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A Family Thing Details


In this family drama, a white Southerner discovers that his family history isn't what he thought it was -- with the fact that he's half-black only one of his many surprises. Earl Pilcher, Jr. (Robert Duvall) runs a gas station in Arkansas; he's a typical middle-aged Southern man who likes his pickup truck and loves his momma. Shortly after his mother's death, he receives some very unexpected news; she wasn't really his mother after all. It seems that years ago, Earl Sr. (James N. Harrell) raped the family's African-American maid, Willie Mae, who nine months later died while giving birth to Earl Jr. To avoid further scandal, Mrs. Pilcher simply raised Earl Jr. as her own. While the family has kept the matter a secret all these years, Earl Jr. has a half-brother living in Chicago, and it was his mother's wish that the two should some day meet and become friends. Earl travels to Chicago and tracks down Ray Murdock (James Earl Jones), a veteran police officer and Willie Mae's other son. Earl Jr. quickly learns that Ray has little interest in getting to know him better; he knows all the facts behind the matter, and he's always blamed Earl for the death of his mother. However, Earl Jr. isn't used to life in a big city up north, and after he's mugged and carjacked, Ray grudgingly takes in his half-brother, letting him stay in the home he shares with his son Virgil (Michael Beach) and Aunt T. (Irma P. Hall), who raised Ray as a boy. A Family Thing was written by Billy Bob Thornton shortly before his breakthrough as writer, director, and star of Billy Bob Thornton. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi


Awarded by
Chicago Film Critics Association Irma P. Hall Best Supporting Actress 1996 Winner


Robert Duvall
as Earl Pilcher, Jr.
James Earl Jones
as Ray Murdock
Michael Beach
as Virgil
Irma P. Hall
as Aunt T.
Grace Zabriskie
as Ruby
Regina Taylor
as Ann
Paula Marshall
as Karen
Rufus Thomas
as Tommy
David Keith
as Sonny
Willo Hausman
as Waitress
Meg Thalken
as Doctor
Wanda Christine
as Woman at City Hall
James Harrell
as Earl Pilcher, Sr.
Roy Hytower
as Man at Gas Station
Xander Berkeley
as Sunburned Man
Antoine Roshell
as Young Man in Car
Don James
as Junior Turner
Mary Jackson
as Carrie


Richard Pearce
Todd Black
Randa Haines
Robert Duvall
Tom Epperson
Billy Bob Thornton
Fred Murphy
Jerry Goldsmith
Composer (Music Score)
Mark Warner
Linda de Scenna
Production Designer
Jim Nedza
Art Director
Brad Wilson
Scott Ferguson
Associate Producer
Michael Hausman
Executive Producer
Ric Mcelvin
Set Designer
Gary Baugh
Set Designer
Joe Tompkins
Costume Designer
Glenn Williams
Sound/Sound Designer
Gerrit Dangremond
Camera Operator
Max Maxwell
Victoria Thomas