Bad Santa Tries Coaching Bad News Bears

He's played an air-traffic controller, a psychotic murderer and even a really bad Santa. But in real life, Billy Bob Thornton plays one heck of a baseball fan. The Academy Award-winning actor, an immense Cardinals fan since his youth in rural Arkansas, carries his love for the game to each of his movies—none more so than the new remake of "Bad News Bears," which opens nationwide on July 22. Thornton naturally plays the tattooed and profane boozer who coaches a group of Little League goofballs to their championship game. Very true to the original 1976 hit, the movie adds dozens of updated one-liners—he calls his foreigner-infested squad "a damn League of Nations"—to keep today's kids laughing (and parents covering their ears). I sat down with Thornton recently to discuss "Bad News Bears," his ill-fated professional pitching tryout, and learning his nasty slider from Bob Gibson.

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