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Daddy and Them

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Diane Ladd, Laura Dern, ...
Van Redin

In the words of Thornton: a ”white-trash romantic comedy” about family strife, alcoholism, and relationships. The two-seater vehicle, which Thornton wrote for his girlfriend, Dern, and himself, puts him back on triple duty as actor-director-screenwriter for the first time since 1996’s ”Sling Blade” (which won an Oscar for adapted screenplay) and marks a return to his Arkansas roots.

”I’m in love with the characters,” says Thornton, who plays Dern’s paramour on screen, as well. ”There’s no bulls— involved.” Which is a fine thing, considering that Thornton had such a narrow filming schedule that even with everything on track, he ended up doing preproduction on his next directorial effort, ”All the Pretty Horses,” while filming ”Daddy and Them.”

Luckily, some actors jumped on board without even reading the script. ”He called me at home and said, ‘I’ve written a little something for you,”’ says Preston (who also appeared with Dern in ”Citizen Ruth”). ”I said yes with no idea if I’d be playing a broom in a corner.” Instead, she found herself cast as Dern’s flirtatious sister, with Dern’s real-life mother, Ladd, doing the on-screen parenting, too.

With everyone being old friends or family, says Preston, filming zoomed along: ”There would be days when by 11 a.m., Billy Bob would call wrap and we’d go bowling.” Says Dern: ”I’m so sick of this tortured-artist thing. High art comes from having a good time.” BUZZ FACTOR: 4

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