"Heath was a kid who … well, let me put it this way, if Heath was here right now, he would really enjoy the conversation we just had. He never involved himself in Hollywood and he wasn’t a guy who wanted to be a celebrity. He wanted to be an actor."
Thornton worked with Ledger on one of the late actor’s early films, "Monster’s Ball."
He also spoke very fondly and supportively of his ex-wife, Angelina Jolie, with whom he’s still good pals.
“She’s a wonderful person. And she’s one of my best friends. I love her. I always have, always will. She’s a great person who has endured a lot, and every thought I have for her is positive."
And he admits to being baffled by criticism of Angelina.
“She’s an amazing person and, you know, it’s so funny to me that people can put her down sometimes when she’s doing what she’s doing. ‘Why is she having so many children?’ It’s nobody’s business why she’s having so many children. It’s a great thing, and if that’s what she wants to do, she has every right to, and she’s saved some children’s lives, so … I mean, so what?"
"Let’s say she saves 30 children’s lives, or 30,000,000 children’s lives. It’s more than a lot of people are doing."
Photo: Billy Bob Thornton at the "Eagle Eye" premiere Wednesday night.