Thornton slings blade to make Coens’ barber cut

Untitled project to co-star McDormand

NEW YORK — Billy Bob Thornton has committed to co-star with Frances McDormand in an upcoming film by Joel and Ethan Coen for Working Title. Though untitled, the film is being called “the barber project,” with Thornton playing the hair splitter. Pic, which begins filming June 21, will be distribbed by USA Films.

Movie is a period piece in the spirit of “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” with McDormand — who won an Oscar for “Fargo,” her last Coen collaboration — playing a femme fatale (Daily Variety, March 16). She’ll portray the wife of a barber who is as conniving as she is philandering. Things heat up when her boyfriend turns up dead.

All in the family

Joel Coen, who’s married to McDormand, will direct, and Ethan Coen will produce with Working Title partners Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan, the same team behind the upcoming Coen caper pic “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?,” which stars George Clooney as one of three escapees from a chain gang in the 1930s. That pic is a Disney-Universal co-production.

As an actor, Thornton just completed “Wakin’ Up in Reno” for Miramax. “Daddy and Them,” a Miramax comedy he wrote, directed and stars in, will open in September, and “All the Pretty Horses,” the Thornton-directed adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, which stars Matt Damon and is a Columbia and Miramax co-production, will open in October.

Thornton will make the Coen film next and will then segue this fall to starring in the MGM comedy “Outlaws” alongside Bruce Willis and Cate Blanchett for director Barry Levinson.

Thornton is repped by William Morris agents Todd Harris and John Fogelman.

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