Kathy Bates and Billy Bob Thornton

Both Kathy Bates and Billy Bob Thornton have won Oscars®, played murderous outcasts on screen and gotten naked for a role...but this they've never done. For the first time, Kathy and Billy Bob are sitting down for a one-on-one interview with each other!

"I'm really excited and a little nervous," says Kathy as she waits for her friend and former Primary Colors co-star at her Los Angeles home. When Billy Bob arrives, the two big-screen stars head to Kathy's library, one of her favorite rooms and the home of her Best Actress Oscar, which she won in 1991 for her role as obsessive fan Annie Wilkes in Misery.
Billy Bob Thornton

Six years after Kathy won the Best Actress Oscar®, Billy Bob walked away with the Best Adapted Screenplay award for his work on Sling Blade. Both stars say that winning the Oscar changed their lives and opened new doors in Hollywood, but when they think of the great moments in their lives, the golden statuette ranks low on the list.

"People ask you if the Oscar is the greatest thing that ever happened to you," Billy Bob says. "Sometimes when I'm asked that, I almost feel like somebody just threw a knife at me—because it's a wonderful thing ... but in the scheme of your life, I mean, my children's births, the fact that I've had an amazing relationship all my life with my mother ... those things are the things that really come to my mind."

Kathy opens up to Billy Bob and shares an experience that she has not talked about in the press.

"I was sick with cancer a couple of years ago," she says. "I'd have to say that the most important thing I've ever experienced is going through [treatment] and realizing how I really feel about life...how I feel about the people in my family, my friends and the people who stood by me."
Kathy Bates

If Billy Bob and Kathy had to trade acting for another career, both stars imagine themselves in the classroom. Kathy says she'd love to go to school full time...if she didn't have to write papers. Billy Bob admits that he always wanted to be a history teacher.

Their shared love of learning may explain their choices for ideal dinner guests. Kathy says if she could invite anyone—dead or alive—to her home, she'd pick people who could shed light on history's mysteries. John Wilkes Booth, Marilyn Monroe and Jesus would be invited, along with Kathy's paternal grandparents, whom she never knew. "Kind of a strange group," Kathy says. "We'd have to do buffet, I think."

Billy Bob says he'd love to have dinner with Jesus, Amelia Earhart, Davy Crockett, Benjamin Franklin, and legendary actors Lon Chaney and Alec Guinness.
Marcia Gay Harden

Oscar®-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden, who's had standout performances in Mystic River and Pollock, is on assignment to meet her mentor and favorite Hollywood legend, Ellen Burstyn. Marcia says she was forever changed by the experience of working alongside Ellen when the two filmed The Spitfire Grill in 1996.

"Ellen Burstyn is one of the great loves of my life," Marcia says. "I'm excited and almost ready to just cry because I get to interview her!"
Marcia Gay Harden and Ellen Burstyn

Ellen Burstyn has starred in almost 50 feature films over her illustrious 30-year career. She thrilled audiences in 1973 as the mother of a possessed girl in The Exorcist. Her next role, in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, won her an Oscar® for Best Actress. In recent years, Ellen moved audiences with her performance in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

"You're an amazing actress," Marcia tells Ellen. "You're a mother. You're a grandmother. You did years of television. You were a waitress. You were a dancer on the Jackie Gleason Show. You must have had hunger at that younger age!"

Ellen says she made up her mind as a young girl in Detroit, Michigan, to see as much of the world as possible. "I was blessed with an unhappy childhood," she says, "so it gave me a lot of impetus to change my life and to make decisions for myself that would create the kind of life that I wanted to have."
Ellen Burstyn

A self-described former "wild girl," Ellen says "the drugs, the alcohol, the overeating, the bad habits...all of that is what you go through until you say, 'Excuse me, but isn't this a pile of dung I'm in here?' And you start crawling your way out of it and making some decisions to sweeten your life. ... The only thing around you [that] you can possibly change is yourself. So you start there."

"Regret is a negative state and it doesn't help at all," Ellen says. "Anytime I catch myself regretting, I stop it and say, 'That's all part of me.'"

Ellen says acting has allowed her to transform her life's wounds into art. "It's a truth for all of us," she says. "If you do not bring forth what is within you, what is within you will destroy you. To me, that's what an actor does—we bring forth what is within us, and it saves us."

What does Ellen know for sure? "I know that what passes between us is a beautiful and human thing," she says. "I know that connection with another human being is enriching and necessary. I know that friendship is nourishing for the soul."