June 13-- LOS ANGELES-There's no holding back for Billy Bob Thornton. When the Oscar-winning actor is in front of a camera or an audience, he gives everything emotionally, spiritually and artistically he has to the performance. Logic would suggest that might be dangerous in a TV series because of more and more times he must go deeply to the acting well. Whether it is a one-episode guest spot or a continuing production, Thornton treats them the same way.
"You don't want to waste something by holding back, because what if you don't get the chance to do the role again? Whatever is happening in the moment or if I have an idea, I will do it," Thornton says.
He didn't hold back in any episodes of the Amazon Prime series "Goliath"'s first season, and that earned him more chances to play every moment to the max as the second season of the streaming show will be available Friday. Thornton reprises his role as Billy McBride, who, after winning a huge verdict in the Borns Tech case, is pulled back into madness of the legal world when his friend's teenage son is arrested for a double homicide. What becomes clear is the murder case is just part of a criminal activity cornucopia.
Thornton has such a great passion for the character that earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama series, he was happy to get the chance to keep playing him. If the original plans for the show had gone as intended, Thornton would have never been part of the streaming series.
Lawrence Trilling, the "Goliath" executive producer who has directed numerous episodes, explains Kevin Costner was to play the role until be backed out. He knows Costner would have done a good job but is delighted that with Thornton they not only get his passionate approach to the role, but his unwavering determination to make sure every scene is as near perfect as possible.
The new season of "Goliath" also stars Mark Duplass ("Room 104") portraying a successful developer who wants to create a new skyline for Los Angeles. Duplass, who has a strong background in improvising and writing, praises Thornton's work ethic in a scene that doesn't show any life the way it's written.
"I will keep working on a scene until I beat the honesty into it," Thornton says. "Some days you just have scenes that are flat as a pancake and we have to do something about this. And, we always figure it out."
Getting "Goliath" just right meant a change of thinking for Thornton and those working on the series. He keeps reminding himself and everyone else this is not traditional television, where the work is rushed because 22 or more episodes have to be finished to give sponsors a place to put their commercials. Thornton jokes that on a show like "Goliath," you will never see him deliver a cliffhanger line of dialogue that leads to a commercial break.
He wants all the energy put into making the series as compelling, smart and entertaining as possible. The biggest difference Thornton sees between "Goliath" and some other series is everyone behind the streaming series goes to work knowing their audience is smart. That means they can't be lazy or take shortcuts in telling the story.
The second season of "Goliath" gets a boost because much of the groundwork is already in place. Thornton describes McBride as being as flawed and possessed by demons as he was the first year, despite having a few more dollars in his pocket. McBride's not the kind of guy you would necessarily want as a best friend, but he's the person you need when there's a tough legal battle to be fought.
Thornton pulls up short of describing McBride as an antihero.
"I guess that's a label that's been on a lot of characters over the years, and I've played a few of those. The thing that appealed to me was a guy whose sense of justice is not exactly what's legal. It's more what's fair, he believes," Thornton says. "But he's also got a bunch of flaws.
"Every human being has their flaws and he's not always right. And he also doesn't always do things on the up and up. He's kind of a guy who uses whatever means he has, which I guess any lawyer does."
Thornton got a small taste of playing a lawyer with a cameo appearance in the 2014 feature film "The Judge." While he was making movies like "Armageddon" and "Sling Blade," he always liked the idea of one day playing a lawyer because they have a lot of similarities to actors. Both rehearse and put on a show.
This is the second television series for Thornton in recent years. He's made guest appearances on TV shows-including "The Big Bang Theory" (a job he loved)-but before 2014's "Fargo," Thornton had not had a recurring role on a series since "Hearts Afire" in the mid-1990s.
Thornton's certain he would like to do another comedy project, but as long as "Goliath" remains such an important job for Thornton, he's happy to stick with doing heavy drama. And, more importantly, to always commit to making sure every moment of "Goliath" is the best he can make it.
12:01 a.m. Friday, Amazon Prime Video
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