Billy Bob Thornton To Star In David E. Kelley’s Amazon Drama ‘Trial’

Billy Bob Thornton is set for the lead in Trial, the Amazon Studios drama from The Practice, Ally McBeal and Picket Fences creator David E. Kelley, which is on track for a 10-episode straight-to-series order. Kevin Costner previously had been eyed for the role but talks fell through.

David Semel, who has directed the pilots for such series as Heroes, Person Of Interest, Madam Secretary, and most recently, CBS’ upcoming Code Black and Amazon’s The Man In The High Castle, is expected to direct.

The legal drama, which Kelley co-wrote with his Practice and Boston Legal producer, fellow former attorney Jonathan Shapiro, centers on Billy McBride (Thornton). Once a big and powerful lawyer, Billy has become a shell of his former self, an alcoholic in a rumpled suit. Billy’s downfall came after he lost a case that saw an innocent kid murdered, and his guilt-driven alcoholism cost him his wife and his job after his longtime partner Cooper turned on him and kicked him out of their law firm. Still hanging onto his dry charisma, Billy is now going head-to-head against Cooper, bringing a case against his former partner, which begins to stir in him his old ambition.

Kelley and Shapiro executive produce Trial with Ross Fineman (FX’s Lights Out, A&E’s Damien).

Trial is one of several drama pilots that were recently quietly picked up by Amazon including Shane Black’s spaghetti Western Edge; thriller/family dramedy The Patriot, from Steve Conrad; and 1970s drama The Good Girls Revolt.

This marks Oscar winner Thornton’s first series regular role in 20 years, since comedy Hearts Afire. He recently toplined the first installment of FX’s Fargo limited series, winning a Golden Globe.

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