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Billy Bob Thornton's complex relationship with Canada

Actor and musician Billy Bob Thornton has hightailed it out of Canada. Some would say he was run out of the country, but Thornton insists it isn’t so.

What’s clear is that Thornton and his band the Boxmasters dropped their two remaining shows as the opening act for Willie Nelson after being booed in Toronto for comparing Canadian audiences to “mashed potatoes with no gravy.”

The cancellations and boos came after a now infamous non-interview Thornton gave CBC radio on Wednesday. It went sour from the moment host Jian Gomeshi referred to Thornton’s Oscar-winning film career in the introduction. Thornton rolled his eyes, looked up at the ceiling and the interview went downhill from there. Here’s a sample:

Ghomeshi: Billy Bob, You guys formed only in the last couple of years, right?

Thornton: I don't know what you're talking about.

Ghomeshi: How so?

Thornton: I don't know what you mean by that.

Ghomeshi: Well, when did the band form?

Thornton: I'm not sure what that means.

Ghomeshi: Oh. When did you guys start playing together? (A band member with an understanding of the word “formed,” then answers the question for Thornton.)

After several more minutes of petulance, Thornton described Canadian audiences as people who “just sort of sit there” and compared them to “mashed potatoes with no gravy.”

He then refused to sing with his band, which awkwardly proceeded to play an instrumental in the CBC studio while Thornton looked on. By late Friday night, about 1.2 million viewers had watched the YouTube video of the CBC interview.

Between songs at his Toronto concert Thursday, Thornton called Gomeshi an “asshole,” claiming Gomeshi had broken a deal not to bring up his acting career during the interview. “If you look someone in the eyes and promise them something, and you don’t do it, you don’t get the interview,” Thornton said.

The audience jeered and responded with shouts of, "Here comes the gravy!”

Thornton then cancelled the show last night in Montreal and the one tonight in London, Ontario. Thornton’s publicist, Arnold Robinson, insisted it had nothing to do with the CBC interview.

“One of the band members and several of the crew have the flu and need a couple of days off to recuperate,” Robinson told the Toronto Star.

“As Billy said before and during the show last night, he loves Canada,” Robinson added.

If Thornton loves Canada, he certainly has a funny way of showing it.

And in case Thornton is interested in contacting for an interview, we state categorically that any reference to his acting career in this dispatch is purely unintentional.