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There’s a lot to unpack in GQ’s latest cover story about Billy Bob Thornton. The deep diving feature touches on everything from the rock and roll touring he loves to the acting and directing that seems to carve a piece out of his soul with every project. From his many wives to his anxiety and love of DOGTV. But what stood out the most to me was the realization that Billy Bob is a My Little Pony fan. And not a filthy casual, either. It seems he’s enough of a fan to be legitimately considered a full-fledged Brony.
The fact comes up when Thornton discusses his relationship with his daughter and how they used to watch the original My Little Pony cartoon when she was an infant. When looking it up again in a fit of nostalgia, Billy Bob discovered the new teen-friendly My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic series, and the two fell in love with it all over again.
Thornton particularly likes how the show manages to impart positive messages that explain the way the world works. He cites a specific pony adventure as an example, where Starlight Glimmer creates an alternative to Ponyville where each pony’s unique cutie mark (the Carebear style insignia on their pony butt) is replaced with equal signs. Take it away, Billy Bob:
“This was amazing because the Mane Six ponies, who are the stars of the show, they go out there because Celestia, who runs Equestria, she will tell Twilight Sparkle she needs to go somewhere, but she doesn’t tell her why.” Bear with him, it’s worth it, I promise. “So anyway, suddenly they get captured by them and told that they have to remove their cutie marks and get equal signs. But they said, you know what? No. So Fluttershy, who is my favorite because she kind of talks like Marilyn Monroe, says, ‘Oh, yes.’” (He says this like Marilyn Monroe.) “Fluttershy acts like she wants to become a member, you know? And so they give her the cutie-mark equal-sign stamp and everything. And then she notices something, like it rains, and it washes off Starlight Glimmer’s equal sign, and she’s got her own cutie mark. So she’s like a Jim Jones cult, you know, right?” Suffice it to say that Billy considers these to be essential lessons for his daughter: Don’t be like the phonies. Don’t go looking to homogenize everyone like Starlight Glimmer. Wear your own cutie mark. It’s yours. And when he can do this for his daughter—focus on ways to bring the world into focus for her — that does his anxiety more good than all the spa music and DOGTV in the world.
Just in case you’re thinking this is just a dad enjoying My Little Pony with his daughter … well, it is. But it’s obviously much more as well. You don’t call the stars of My Little Pony ‘the Mane Six’ unless you’re flank deep into that show and reading stuff about it on the internet. And if you check out the rest of the GQ feature, you’ll realize there isn’t a single thing Billy Bob Thornton does on God’s earth that he doesn’t take to extremes.
And for those of you thinking it’s your sensitive pony predilections that keep you from getting the girls, keep this in mind: Billy Bob Thornton was married to Angelina Jolie. We’re not sure if that will inspire or depress you.