Virginia Madsen and Billy Bob Thorton Talk The Astronaut Farmer

I had the chance to speak with the talented duo of Virginia Madsen and Billy Bob Thorton during the publicity tour for their pending film The Astronaut Farmer.

What attracted you to the part and what sort of work did you do to prepare for the part?

Billy Bob: We both loved the script and the work of the Polish Brothers, and that fact that the film is an emotional drama that makes you feel good was a big factor.

Virginia: The film also was about dreaming and the characters both were very close to us.

The characters in the film were very easy to root for as they were genuine and easy to relate to. Was it tricky to play real people in such an extraordinary situation and not lose their everyman quality?

Billy Bob: Not really as their situation was not extraordinary to them, it was their life and they saw that as ordinary.

I really appreciated the can do spirit of the film. Do you think the film is not only a kick in the butt for people to do more, and do you think that we will see more films with this sort of theme in the future?

Billy Bob: I sure hope so. The film challenges people to dream more and not be so complacent and cynical.

Virginia: The film does encourage people to rise to challenges and to not be afraid to dream, which is not a bad thing.

Both commented on the fact that the characters they play have a loving family with good values. They play parents who truly love each other and their children, and both actors felt these were things that we should see more of.

What were some of your favorite moments making the film?

Billy Bob: The carnival scenes as they were like a day off, especially for the kids and they had a lot of fun. Anytime you can spend the day dancing with Virginia is always a good day.

Virginia: For me it was the scene where he lost his wedding ring and they were discussing that. They were very much a real couple there, and it was one of those moments that was captured them and their love for each other.

What were some of the biggest obstacles you had during the making of the film?

Virginia: The fight scene at the table was very hard, as we both get along well with each other.

Billy Bob: Learning to square dance was hard as well.

As a follow up, how difficult was it doing the scenes in the spacesuit as I would think you had a cooling system?

Billy Bob: (Laughing), you would think wrong. It was an actual suit but did not include the cooling system, which when we were filming in New Mexico made it tough. Once the faceplate was closed, I was totally isolated, and especially in the small capsule, it got tough. It did offer some protection at night when it got cold though. The hardest was filming the launch and crash scenes.

What was it like working with Bruce Willis again after “Armageddon” as it was a pleasant surprise to see him in the film?

Billy Bob: That was a business decision. Usually when they get a star to do a cameo, they tend to underplay them as they do not want to make it look like they are the main part of the film when they may not be that important in the story.

In this case, Bruce was great for doing it, and there were some great scenes especially his hearing with the F.A.A. and it was great working with him.

What do you have coming up next?

Virginia: I am still looking for my next project but Billy Bob has several lined up.

Billy Bob: I have a romantic comedy called “Woodcock” coming up with Sean William Scott and Susan Sarandon. Think “Bad Santa” in gym shorts.

Virginia, I wanted to ask you about the rumor that was going around that Harrison Ford asked you to be in the new “Indiana Jones Film”.

Virginia: Harrison did an interview shortly after Firewall, and he mentioned that he thought I would be good in the film. That was all that I heard about it which was very nice of him to say, but nothing has come of it. Besides, I thought Karen Allen was his girlfriend in the film.