Entertainment Weekly is reporting that Robert Duvall revealed at last Friday’s Critic Choice Movie Awards that he’s eying Billy Bob Thornton’s “Jayne Mansfield’s Car,” his next directorial effort. Thornton first revealed the project late last year, and the film will find him starring and directing a script he co-wrote with Tom Epperson, with whom he worked on “One False Move” and “A Family Thing” that starred Duvall.
“It’s another Southern tale,” Duvall saiid. “It puts Tennessee Williams in the back seat — it’s that brilliant.” Duvall told EW that he would take a supporting role, as Thornton — the writer and director of the film — would also be the star. Duvall outlined the plot, saying, “It’s about a guy in between WWI and WWII who raises a family after his wife left him for an Englishman and moved to England…When the wife dies, she asks to be brought back to Alabama to be buried, and at that point the character hasn’t seen her in 20 or 30 years. The two families — her original family she abandoned and her English family — meet and then things get really interesting.” The title also demonstrates that the death of actress/blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield, who perished at the age of 34 in a car accident, will somehow figure into the plot, although the details about the title’s significance remain under wraps.
Talking about the film last month, Thornton discussed his motivation behind writing this film with co-writer Tom Epperson. “I think because of the nature of movies they are making these days. They are really not my bag as much. I figured that instead of sitting around complaining that I really don’t want to be in a superhero movie or cartoon or a 3D vampire movie and all that kind of thing, I’ve written movies before, so why not write one,” Thornton said. Good enough reason for us.
Duvall recently wowed as hermit Felix Bush in “Get Low,” and is one of the actors vying for those unlocked spaces in the Best Actor category at the Oscars. He’s also finished filming the golf drama as the lead in Matt Russell’s “Seven Days in Utopia.” While Thornton has proved his acting chops with movies like “Sling Blade” and “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” he’s stumbled a little directing films like the misguided adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s “All the Pretty Horses” and the little-known “Daddy and Them.” He did show promise with his triple-threat “Sling Blade” in 1996 though, so here’s hoping for another great Southern drama along the lines of this year’s “Winter’s Bone” and the aforementioned “Get Low.” No word yet on exact filming dates, but Thornton previous revealed he wanted to mount the picture this spring. –Catherine Scott