If you could choose a period of time to go back to, which would it be? For Billy Bob Thornton, the late 1960s clearly hold a special place in his heart and nowhere is it more evident than in the new film he directed, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, in which he brings together several generations of actors — himself, Robert Patrick, Kevin Bacon, and Robert Duvall — to play the men in a family who in 1969 Alabama find themselves torn apart by their experiences in three different wars.
“I had to set it in ’69 because I wanted to comment on this idea of the different generations and how they deal with war and how it affected them all differently,” Thornton tells EW. “And in the last three decades the way people look at the wars we’ve been in, there’s not that great a difference in it from decade to decade, but from World War I to World War II to Vietnam, there was a huge difference.”
The late 1960s shaped a generation, and Thornton says he’s drawn to those times as a director. “1969 was the pivotal year,” he says. “The social network has changed a lot about how we look at the world, who comments on it, and I think I’m just very attracted to the ’60s, I like the way things operated then.” And don’t forget the tunes. “People can tell me music’s as good right now as it was in the 1960s, but they’re just wrong.”
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