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Billy Bob Thornton Changes His Name

When you’re a celebrity, it’s hard to be just “one of the guys,” but that’s all Billy Bob Thornton really wants to be — a band member, one of The Boxmasters. In fact, in the music world, he’s not going by Billy Bob at all. His musical alter ego is W.R. “Bud” Thornton.

“Bud sounded like a good name for a guy who is a Boxmaster,” Thornton tells The Boot. “In the beginning, we were going to downplay me a lot. But sometimes they won’t let ya,” he continues with a laugh. “We made up this whole story, kinda like the Traveling Wilburys who all had different names, but then we thought we don’t want it to be like we’re trying to trick people. When you look at a record cover and I’m on it, there’s no mystery. But I used the name because I simply like being part of a band. I don’t like to be the star of something.”

Thornton says after three solo records and the release of two Boxmasters projects, the press is finally beginning to accept him as a musician.

“In the beginning there was a backlash,” he admits. “‘Beautiful Door‘ was a real good record, if I do say so myself. It was a record that got a lot of good critical acclaim, so it started to change on that record. By the time we got to the Boxmasters, we actually had people that didn’t even mention me as an actor anymore, which made me real happy.”

With the Boxmasters’ third album, ‘Modbilly,’ set for release April 21, Thornton says it infuriates him when people call him an actor who is trying to sing. He insists music is his first passion, and he hopes the Boxmasters’ name will eventually be as famous as his own.

“It’s a band; it’s not just my name out there,” Thornton says. “I will tell people when we come on a TV show, ‘Just call us the Boxmasters,’ and you can bet your ass it’s going to say ‘Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters.’ Obviously, they want viewers, and they think I’m going to talk about my ex-wives and blood drinking and all those other fantasies they have.”

Thornton has made more than 60 films but has played music all of his life, starting out as a drummer in his uncle’s country band when he was a young child.

Actors Who Rock

    KIRSTEN DUNST, known for dating musicians, is now making some music of her own. The actress is writing a musical she’s been working on for a few years.

    Soul Brother/FilmMagic, Getty

    JESSICA BIEL recorded vocals for the soundtrack of her movie ‘Easy Virtue’.

    Matt Carr, Getty Images

    Steve Spatafore, Getty Images

    KEVIN COSTNER has a six-piece rock group called the Kevin Costner Band.

    Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

    Actress KIM KARDASHIAN told E! in Sept. 2008 that she’d “be down” to make an album “if it was something fun. I love music, so it would just have to be the right thing.”

    Bryan Bedder, Getty Images

    ‘House’ actor HUGH LAURIE also plays piano and calls himself a “frustrated musician.” He has also composed and recorded numerous original songs.

    Gregg DeGuire, WireImage

    The actor collaborated with Jim Brickman on the soundtrack of ‘Cinderella’ and released his debut album, ‘A Long Time Coming,’ in Sept. 2008.

    Lisa Lake, WireImage

    SCARLETT JOHANSSON’s album of Tom Waits was released in May of 2008. She debuted her pipes on stage with Jesus and Mary Chain at Coachella 2007.

    John Shearer, WireImage

    Actor JOAQUIN PHOENIX, who portrayed Johnny Cash in ‘Walk the Line,’ is recording an album with Charlatans singer Tim Burgess. (Photo by E. Charbonneau, WireImage)

    MICHAEL CERA — Impressed with his vocals and guitar skills in ‘Juno’? Makes sense as he’s had practice in his band, The Long Goodbye.(Photo ny Doane Gregory, Fox Searchlight)

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