The other weekend, American Airlines gave me the opportunity to attend an event that they were sponsoring called Faces of our American Heroes, a fundraiser from the Young President's Organization to purchase iBOT’s for wounded veterans. What are iBots? Designed by the creator of the Segway, the iBOT is a motorized wheelchair that can go up stairs and do lots of other cool things to make life somewhat easier for these injured vets. Performing at the event was Billy Bob Thornton and his hillbilly band--The Boxmasters. Since I was attending the event as media, my colleague Kathleen thankfully came as my camerawoman to create some online videos of the overall night, speak with some soldiers, see the iBots up close and as a bonus, we were even told we’d have interview time with Billy Bob!
Although I’ve had the opportunity to interview quite a few celebs before, for some reason I was nervous about this one. It didn’t help that when I was researching him online, I came across the fact that he has OCD and a phobia of antique furniture and heavy silverware. Not that I'd be dining with him or inviting him to sit on a Louis XIV settee or anything, either way I was anxious and afraid I would stumble over my words when it came time to do the interview, instead I just stumbled through my intro, lol.
The big night arrived, I spoke with and was humbled by the injured soldiers and their families, was awed by the brilliance of the iBOT, spoke with an American Airlines pilot and pretty much froze outside in my little red dress. The only snag came once Billy Bob's manager arrived and we found out that she knew nothing about our promised interview with the actor, singer, writer and musician. I begged that I'd only ask two questions and promised that I'd keep them focused on the event and the band. I also agreed to speak with his main band members. Thankfully, after several anxious minutes she gave the OK, so our interview was back on, but it was being moved to inside his trailer. Not the ideal situation for shooting and setting up camera equipment, but pretty cool nonetheless.
Inside the plush and rented trailer there were surprisingly tons of people lingering about. We were shown into the bedroom area and since the guys would be sitting on the bed, my colleague had to stand half in and half out of the little bathroom with the camera held on her shoulder, as I leaned my hip up on the outside sink and vanity. First entered The Boxmaster's two main players, JD Andrew and Mike Butler. We chitchatted a bit about how long their set was going to be and stuff like that when finally a lean Billy Bob entered wearing a black suit, cowboy boots and a thin black tie. I instantly thought of Johnny Cash and later wasn't too surprised to hear that some of his songs were reminiscent of the country singer too.
In one hand he was smoking a cigarette the other held a green beer bottle, he then sat on the bed in between his two band members. We introduced ourselves, shook hands and I was struck by how much he oozed charm and how cool he seemed. In fact he reminded us of his powerful country-boy, cocky Presidential character in Love Actually. My questions were rather boring, but time was limited and I had already agreed to focus them on the band, their new album "Modbilly" (releasing on April 21) and their presence at the event. Everything went smoothly, Billy Bob cracked a few jokes and I kind of melted when he called me "baby" as he thanked me when we were leaving. As for their instrumental performance later on, I really enjoyed it, especially the fast paced country bluegrass beat and funny/explicit lyrics.
Interview with Billy:
Video with the veterans, A&A and iBots:
Fox 4 News video on the iBot.