If they gave degrees for this sort of thing, Billy Bob Thornton would have a Ph.D. In School for Scoundrels, he plays a lothario who helps hapless nerds charm gorgeous women. That's never been an issue for Thornton, 51, who was once wed to Angelina Jolie. ("Angie and I are friends," he says of his fifth ex-wife.) So what explains his romantic prowess? PEOPLE's Oliver Jones is on the case.

• Okay, how do you manage to attract these beautiful women?
I could do it since I was a kid. My friends through junior high were kind of like the guys in this movie. But I was an athlete and a musician, and girls actually liked me. So that's my advice to the truly hopeless: Join a band.

• Is it possible to be naturally irresistible?
You can never tell with attraction or chemistry. When you go out hoping to meet someone and put on your best hot-date shirt, those are the nights when you can't get anybody to talk to you. But the night you run to the market in holey sweats, smelling like hell, been drunk for three days, every chick wants your number.

• Ever miss having your every move in the gossip columns?
My level of popularity is kind of where I want it. I am not all over the place. Like in [photo spreads] where they show everybody out at every party. I am just not in those things.

• They don't run your picture or you're not at the party?
I'm not there, and if I was, you wouldn't want to take my picture. To tell the truth, I never had a good time at those things.

• You don't miss talking to pretty girls over drinks?
Well, it's just a lot more fun at my house. Because if they are at the house, well, you know ...

• Your work is half done?
Exactly.