Back in 1996, Billy Bob Thornton gained international acclaim and an Academy Award for writing, directing, and starring in the hit indie film, Sling Blade. Since then, the 66-year-old actor has become a household name, known for both his many movies roles and his reputation as a Hollywood bad boy. In fact, the Armageddon star has been married a total of six times—that’s a lot of ex-spouses! Here’s a rundown of all of Billy Bob Thornton’s wives, from well-known women like Angelina Jolie to lesser-known, non-famous names.
Billy Bob Thornton’s Early Marriages
By the time Billy Bob Thornton caught his first big break co-writing and acting in the 1992 crime thriller One False Move, the Arkansas-born actor had already tied the knot three times. He was married to his first wife, Melissa Lee Gatlin, from 1978 until 1980. While little is known about Gatlin or her relationship with Thornton, we do know that the couple had one child together, a daughter named Amanda. Back in 2011, Amanda—who is apparently estranged from her famous father—was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of aggravated manslaughter of a child.
In 1986, Thornton married actress Toni Lawrence. According to her IMDB profile, she’s best known for appearing on various ’70s and ’80s-era TV shows like Emergency!, McCloud, and Marcus Welby, M.D. She also had a recurring role on the soap opera Days of Our Lives and appeared in early ‘80s movies like Sole Survivor and Beyond Reason. Lawrence and Thornton divorced in 1988 after two years of marriage.
The Bad Santa star’s third wife, Cynda Williams, was also an actress. She made her debut in Spike Lee’s 1990 film, Mo’ Better Blues, then appeared alongside Thornton in the 1992 movie, One False Move. Since then, she’s worked steadily in TV and film, appearing in more than two dozen TV shows and movies. Some of her most recent credits include Life Ain’t Like the Movies, The Misadventures of Mistress Maneater, Why Me, and Every Day But Christmas. She and Thornton were married from 1990 until 1992, making it another two-year marriage for the Bandits star. We’re starting to see a pattern here!
His Marriage To Pietra Dawn Cherniak Had A Troubling Ending
Just one year after his split from Williams, Thornton got hitched once again. This time, it was to former Playboy Playmate Pietra Dawn Cherniak. While this union lasted longer than his other three—and produced two sons, William and Harry James—it was clearly troubled. According to a 1997 article in People magazine, Cherniak requested a restraining order when she filed for divorce, accusing Thornton of domestic abuse.
“Over the past year, at least once or twice per month, [Thornton] has hit me, pushed me, punched me, bit me, or otherwise physically attacked me, sometimes in front of the children,” she wrote in court papers. In the same filing, Cherniak alleged that Thornton “lifted me off the ground by my neck and said, ‘I’m going to kill you, and then I’m going to go to prison and the children will be orphans.’”
Thornton vehemently denied the accusations and released a statement saying, “I’m sorry that Pietra’s advisers have convinced her to take this malicious and untruthful course of action by making these false accusations of physical and mental abuse. Our marriage was not perfect, but I never exhibited the behavior she’s accusing me of. Our concerns right now should be about our sons, who will suffer the most as a result of her advisers’ conduct.”
Thornton’s Most Famous Ex-Wife Is Angelina Jolie
After his dramatic divorce from Cherniak, Thornton started dating actress Laura Dern. The pair dated for more than two years, living together and even getting engaged in 1999. But they never made it down the aisle, which was a big surprise to Dern. According to the Jurassic Park star, Thornton ditched her for another woman while she was out of town working on a film. “I left our home to work on a movie, and while I was away, my boyfriend got married, and I’ve never heard from him again,” Dern said in a 2000 interview.
The woman that Thornton married was none other than actress Angelina Jolie, who was 20 years younger than the Monster’s Ball star. The two actors met while playing husband and wife in the 1999 movie Pushing Tin and got hitched in May of 2000 in Las Vegas.
During the course of their three-year union, the couple frequently made headlines for their outrageous behavior. One of their most famous antics was wearing vials of each other’s blood around their necks, though Thornton has since insisted that the idea really wasn’t that crazy.
“The necklaces were a very simple thing: ‘Hey, let’s poke our fingers with a pen and smear a little blood on there, and when we’re away from each other we’ll wear the necklace,’” the Friday Night Lights star explained in a 2018 podcast interview with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). “It was that easy. But by the time it came out in the press, it sounded like we were wearing a bucket of blood around our necks.”
While Thornton’s marriage to Jolie was his most high-profile union, it was not his longest. The couple announced that they were separating in June of 2002 and finalized their divorce in 2003. Thornton has said that the pressures of being a high-profile couple—as well as his own doubts and insecurities—were what ultimately led to the breakup.
“When Angie and I got married, during that time, I was more famous than she was to start with, and then when she becomes this big thing, it’s hard in these relationships,” he admitted in a 2012 interview on ABC’s Nightline. “And I blew it because I didn’t think I was good enough for her. She has one way she wanted to live her life and I had another way to live mine and I was just too insecure.”
Fortunately, the pair have remained friends since their split. “Angie is still a friend of mine and she’s a great person and she’s done so much,” Thornton said in his interview with the HFPA. “And I remember our time together has really been great. We just had different lifestyles. Hers is a global lifestyle and mine is an agoraphobic lifestyle. So that’s really, that’s the only reason we’re probably not still together.”
He Is Currently Married To Connie Angland
It appears as though the sixth time is the charm for Billy Bob Thornton when it comes to wedded bliss. Not long after his divorce from Jolie in 2003, he started dating makeup artist and special effects technician Connie Angland. She was 39 at the time and had worked on a number of high-profile Hollywood films, including Men in Black, Big Momma’s House, Planet of the Apes, and Men in Black II. According to IMBD, Angland met Thornton while working on the film, Bad Santa.
The couple had a child together in 2004—a daughter named Bella—but waited ten more years to finally tie the knot. “I didn’t want her to be called number six. You know?” the actor joked in a 2016 interview with GQ when asked why he waited so long to make Angland his wife. Now together for a total of 18 years, Thornton and Angland clearly have what it takes to make their union last.