Amazon snags Billy Bob Thornton for latest original series, The Trial

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Amazon managed to snag Billy Bob Thornton to play the lead character in its upcoming original series The Trial, reports Variety.

The show, created by David E. Kelley, follows the story of Billy McBride (played by Thornton), a lawyer who co-founds a high-profile law firm, only to be ousted from it. Despondent at his unfortunate turn of events, he begins to drink heavily. At least his ex-wife – presumably a reason for the ousting from the company in the first place – throws him a bone of a case every now and then to keep his mind, er, fresh. But things start to look up for McBride when a young, clearly angry, lawyer from his former firm gets fired, and approaches him to help with a wrongful death case. The clincher? McBride will be fighting against the new head of his old firm. Oh, sweet revenge.

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Interestingly, it was Kevin Costner who was originally pegged for the role, but passed on it, opening the door for Thornton. Perhaps Costner, an A-list Hollywood movie actor whose only real major venture into TV was the miniseries Hatfields & McCoys, felt more comfortable on the big screen. Thornton, meanwhile, has recently been embracing the small screen, notably starring in the TV anthology series Fargo, a role for which he received both an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Film. 

The Trial will be Amazon Instant Video’s first straight-to-series order: typically, Amazon holds audience panel viewings of pilot episodes to determine which shows to pick up and move forward with and when. The show is executive produced by Kelley and Jonathan Shapiro; the pair also wrote the pilot together.