The pair's eccentric marriage -- and blood vials -- were a tabloid spectacle in the early 2000s, but 15 years later, Thornton has nothing but fond memories of the relationship.
“I look at that time as a great time ‘cause, you know, Angie is still a friend of mine and she’s a great person,” the 62-year-old actor said on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s HFPA In Conversation podcast on Wednesday. “The movies she makes are still things that are important to her … and whether they succeed or fail, she still does what she believes in, and I’ll always respect her for that.”
Jolie, Thornton's fifth wife, split from the actor after three years in 2003. She went on to marry Brad Pitt in 2014, but the two separated in 2016. Thornton, meanwhile, is now married to Connie Angland.
The reason Jolie and Thornton didn't work out is because they "just had different lifestyles," the actor explained. "Hers is a global lifestyle and mine is an agoraphobic lifestyle. So, that’s really … the only reason we’re probably still not together, you know, ‘cause [it was] just a different path and life we wanted to take.”
On top of that, Thornton said his and Jolie's relationship was "exaggerated" by the media -- including the necklaces they wore containing each other's blood.
“The necklaces were a very simple thing,” he explained. “‘Hey, let’s poke our finger with a pin and smear a little on there, and when we’re away from each other, we’ll wear the necklace.’ That was that easy, but by the time it came out in the press, it sounded like we were wearing a bucket of blood around our necks.”
Thorton seemed to have different memories of his time with Jolie during a Hollywood Reporter interview in 2014, calling their marriage a "crazy time." "I've never been fond of it," he said.
Jolie, meanwhile, commented on the necklaces -- "it was never a vial anyway... it was kind of romantic," she gushed -- and their relationship during a 2008 interview with Entertainment Weekly. "I still love him dearly and think of the world of him," she expressed. "I'm proud to have been his wife for a time."
See what Thornton told ET about his relationship with Jolie in 2016 in the video below.
Video: Billy Bob Thornton on Ex-Wife Angelina Jolie