Actor, screenwriter, director and musician Billy Bob Thornton has created many award-winning independent films over the last two decades. He is known in the industry for his ability to write compelling stories and dialogue — which is interesting, considering that he has been diagnosed with dyslexia.


“When I was growing up, they just thought I was slow. Teachers thought I was lazy.” Thornton says. “I never wanted to be anything that school taught me.… and I was only in drama because there were girls in there.”

He grew up in poverty in the rural American South. He struggled through school and eventually dropped out of university after his first year.

His first brush with acting was in elementary school, where he had one line in a school play, “hark”. He said, “harp”! Reading is still difficult for him, Thornton says.


He was a talented baseball player and almost started a career with the Kansas City Royals, but injury sidelined him. Apart from his athleticism, Thornton was a natural creative, so he moved to Los Angeles to pursue writing and performance.

His career jumpstarted with the film One False Move, which he co-wrote and starred in as well. Since then, he has enjoyed a prolific writing career, both in film and music.

Sarah Forrest is a Reading Specialist at Oxford Learning Solutions, creators of the Easyread System. Easyread is an online course for children with reading difficulties due to dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, and more.