Billy Bob Thornton Says He Was Really Drunk Filming ‘Bad Santa’

by : Emma Rosemurgey on : 19 Oct 2019 13:35
Billy Bob Thornton Says He Was Drunk Almost Every Day Filming 'Bad Santa'Billy Bob Thornton Says He Was Drunk Almost Every Day Filming 'Bad Santa'Columbia Pictures

Every actor has their own methods when it comes to getting into character, but it turns out Billy Bob Thornton was so committed to making his role in Bad Santa authentic, he turned up blind drunk.


In fact, the actor has admitted he got blackout drunk for the mall scene, and actually drunk a lot of the time during filming.

His co-star Tony Cox once asked if Thornton was high while they were working on the film, to which the actor replied ‘every day,’ and to this day Cox still has no idea whether he was joking or not.

Now, in a new interview, Thornton has admitted he can be somewhat of a method actor.


Speaking on the Entertainment Weekly couch, the actor recalled drinking red wine for breakfast before heading into work to play Santa Clause Willie Soke, who just happened to be an alcoholic.

Specifically referring to a scene in which Willie was blind drunk in a shopping mall, Thornton said:

It’s so obvious. I drank about three glasses of red wine for breakfast… Then I switched over to vodka and cranberry juice, and then I had a few Bud Lights. By the time I got to that scene there, I barely knew I was in a movie.

Columbia Pictures

He continued:

The fact of the matter is I was supposed to be standing on the escalator. It dumps me out and it literally woke me up and that’s what’s in the movie.

And I get up, standing around because I thought I woke up in my house. And then I remembered what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to go there and fall down in all those gifts and be horrible in front of the kids.

At least it wasn’t a monologue.

It was well known Thornton liked to go out and have a good time after filming wrapped up each day, and he admitted that sometimes led into the next day.

Columbia Pictures

He said:

A couple of times, I was drunk, but not every day. I showed up with a hangover a few times. There were times when I’d be with my pals until 3:30 a.m. and have to be at work at 7 a.m. I wasn’t the most pleasant guy to be around.

After that admission it might not come as a surprise Thornton and Bad Santa director Terry Zwigoff struggled to see eye to eye while creating the film, with Zwigoff even saying he doesn’t like to look back at the making of the movie.

As per Movieweb, he said:

Ultimately, I was able to get from Billy Bob what I needed, and I hope that by now he appreciates what I brought to the party.

Too soon to throw Bad Santa on and start the festive film viewings?

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Emma Rosemurgey

Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.

Topics: Film and TV


Entertainment Weekly and 1 other
  1. Entertainment Weekly

    Billy Bob Thornton was really (really!) drunk for that Bad Santa mall scene

  2. Movieweb

    Billy Bob Thornton Admits He Was Really Drunk Shooting Bad Santa Mall Scene