Sling Blade (1996) Poster



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Billy Wilder once told Billy Bob Thornton that he was "too ugly" to be an actor and that he should write a screenplay for himself where he could exploit his "less than perfect" features. After the movie launched Thornton's career, Thornton publicly discussed his conversation with Wilder, which was at a cocktail party where Thornton was working as a waiter. Thornton got a call from Wilder, who invited him over to his house. Wilder said he didn't recall the conversation with Thornton but was glad that he heeded his advice. As a gift, Wilder gave Thornton a paperback copy of the Sling Blade script with his autograph and a personal message inscribed on it.
In order to make his walk more awkward and consistent, Billy Bob Thornton placed crushed glass in his shoes.
When Doyle tells Linda that "retards" make him sick, he adds that the same is true for antique furniture and midgets. Billy Bob Thornton has been quoted as saying that two of his phobias are antique furniture and midgets.
According to Billy Bob Thornton, he invented Karl's unique facial expressions and speech patterns, plus ad-libbed the entire "sling blade" speech at the beginning of the film, while looking at himself in a make-up room mirror, waiting to film his scene as a train conductor in The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains (1987). His scene was later cut from that film.
Billy Bob Thornton said he wrote the role of Vaughan Cunningham specifically for his good friend John Ritter.
A remake of the short film Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade (1994). Both were written and starred Billy Bob Thornton.
According to Billy Bob Thornton, in an interview on The Howard Stern Show (2/7/1997), Karl living behind a shed is based on a boy where he grew up who could not walk or talk very well, so his parents kept him in the shed. Billy says the story is that the boy's mother was scared by a snake when she was pregnant, so they felt he was like a child of the devil. They kept him locked up and fed him like a dog. It turned out the boy had polio.
Fellow independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch appears as the "Frostee Cream" worker in the beginning. His name tag reads "Deke", the name of the film's Electrical Best Boy.
According to the DVD Commentary, Billy Bob Thornton considers Sling Blade to be the greatest movie he has ever made.
Billy Bob Thornton had written the script in long hand, at his family's house in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
All of the members of Doyle's mediocre band in the movie, including Doyle himself, are played by real-life accomplished and talented musicians.
When the film was in pre-production, Billy Bob Thornton envisioned John Ritter's character as having dyed blonde hair, thinking that Vaughan was a man who was transferred out of St. Louis for his job in where the film is set, and based his hairstyle on what he saw men sporting in GQ magazine. Thornton, Ritter and the film's hairstylist began experimenting with hairstyles on Ritter at the hotel where the cast and crew stayed. According to Thornton, Ritter was insistent that the hairstyle wasn't too drastic as he had to go back to Los Angeles to shoot a public service announcement. But when the hairstylist came up with, and applied the hairstyle that Ritter's Vaughan character would sport in the film, Thornton immediately approved. However when Ritter finally got a look at his hair in the hotel room's bathroom mirror, he was infuriated at Thornton. Thornton said that when Ritter went back home to shoot the PSA, he was wearing a baseball cap.
Cameo by Col. Bruce Hampton Ret. of Aquarium Rescue Unit and Code Talkers during Doyle's band scene. Col. Bruce is the Tambourine player and can be seen blowing his trademark "Smokeless Smoke Ring" in a close up shot.
Robert Duvall appearing as Karl's father was a kind turn to Billy Bob Thornton, who would play a small role in Duvall's The Apostle (1997) for free in exchange.
Harvey Weinstein - then co-chairman of Miramax - only saw the first 30 minutes of Sling Blade (1996) when he agreed to pay $10m for the rights to the film. He later regretted this and forced Billy Bob Thornton to cut about 20 minutes from the movie.
Although Karl's father's (Robert Duvall) name is never mentioned, in the original short, "Some Folks Call it a Sling Blade", it is mentioned that his father's name is Franklin.
Molly Ringwald played the newspaper reporter in the original short Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade (1994). Sarah Boss replaced her for the feature-length production.
Nominated for 14 awards, and only five lost.
Billy Bob Thornton was the runner up for Best New Filmmaker in the a Film Critics Awards for the role of Karl.
Karl says "Alright then" 19 times.
By his description Karl's "sling blade" matches a bush axe or ditch-bank axe, a kind of long-handled machete with a short broad blade (and easily lethal), though the term is also used for sickles and weed-cutters. "Kaiser blade" has murkier roots, but likely is slang for similar tools favored by remnant communities of Pennsylvania Dutch, who were actually mostly German in origin (thus "kaiser").
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Despite the title and Karl's history, no sling blade ever appears in the film.
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Less than ten women who were not extras were in the film.
In most of the group shots the camera holds static on the actors for the duration of the take without ever panning or cutting away for the traditional series of reverse angle shots.
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The name main character carl was named after Billy Bob Thorntons special needs cousin who died a month before Billy Bob wrote the movie
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Billy Bob Thornton and Lucas Black play football 8 years after they do in "Sling Blade" as Coach Gary Gaines and Quaterback Mike Winchell in "Friday Night Lights" (2004).
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The last spoken word in the movie by Doyle, Vaughan, Frank, and Linda is the same: "Karl...?"
Vaughan (John Ritter) is holding a copy of the book "A Confederacy of Dunces" in his final scene. The book revolves around a Southern character that is unable to fit into society.
In his autobiography "The Billy Bob Tapes", Billy Bob Thornton had become good friends with John Ritter when they were shooting the sitcom Hearts Afire. This friendship inspired Thornton to cast Ritter as the first person in his film. According to Thornton, his first scene with Ritter was in the cafe when Vaughan (Ritter) tells Karl (Thornton) that he's gay. Thornton said that none of the film's cast had watched him in character as Karl. So when he got into character, Ritter burst out laughing, as he thought Thornton was joking. Thornton explained that it was the character, an explanation which Ritter said was going to be difficult for Ritter to act with, as he knew Thornton too well. Thornton said they were able to shoot the scene but its difficulty was due to Ritter trying to keep a straight face throughout the shoot.
Dwight Yoakam's character is killed by Billy Bob Thornton's character in both Don't Look Back (1996) and Sling Blade (1996).
in the scene where Karl kills Doyle with the lawnmower blade, in the reflection in the mirror you see neither any blood castoff nor blood on the blade itself
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Billy Bob Thornton appeared in 2 episodes of Evening Shade starring Burt Reynolds. James Hampton plays the prison warden in this, he starred with Burt Reynolds as a fellow prisoner in the original Longest Yard.
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