BILLY BOB THORNTON (THE ASTRONAUT FARMER) - Interview
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From the time he was a child, Charles Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) had only one goal: to be an astronaut. Earning his degree in aerospace engineering and joining the Air Force as a pilot, Farmer was a natural for NASA’s astronaut training program and was well on his way when a family situation forced him to drop out and return home—effectively ending his career. But Farmer was not a man to let anything stand in the way of a dream.
He spent the next decade and every cent he had building his own rocket in a barn on his ranch in Story, Texas, working toward the day when he could triumphantly launch it into space. By himself. Sharing his vision are his wife Audie (Virginia Madsen) and their children—daughters Sunshine and Stanley, and 15-year-old Shepard, already a budding engineer and eager to serve as “mission control” on the big day. Even Audie’s father, Hal (Bruce Dern), on hand to lend moral support, can see how his son-in-law’s unwavering commitment has inspired the family with a common dream—something he himself was never able to achieve as a father.
On the eve of the long-anticipated launch, an unexpected problem arises. Farmer’s efforts to secure 10,000 pounds of high-grade fuel catch the attention of the FBI…and subsequently the media, who encamp in droves outside his gate, speculating wildly about this “space cowboy” and his homemade rocket. Farmer finds himself depicted on TV screens worldwide as a renegade hero, inspiring an outpouring of popular support, while simultaneously drawing heavy scrutiny and surveillance from the FBI, CIA, FAA and the U.S. military—all of which see Farmer as a potential risk to civilian safety and will take the necessary steps to shut down his operation.
But Farmer knows this is his only chance, not only to reach his goal of breaking through the Earth’s atmosphere but to instill in his children the courage to pursue their own ideals and never give up…no matter the odds. He will not let himself be grounded again.