Tommy Lee Jones


Biography of Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy Lee Jones is an outstanding American actor, whose name has repeatedly appeared in the list of contenders for the main prize of the American Film Academy. The coveted statuette went to him in 1994 for the best supporting actor in the film The Fugitive. Among his most famous works are the thriller No Country for Old Men and the comedy Men in Black. His most common roles are often diametrically opposed: cold-blooded, unflappable law enforcement officers or eccentric “bad guys”.

Severe and cold-blooded Tommy Lee Jones

Childhood and family of Tommy Lee Jones

The great actor was born in the town of San Saba, Texas, in an average American family: his father worked as a driller in the oil fields, and his mother was a school teacher, although she later left this occupation and opened her own beauty salon. It is noteworthy that on the maternal side, Tommy Lee Jones has Native American roots.

Childhood photo of Tommy Lee Jones (1953)

The childhood of Tommy Lee Jones was by no means cloudless. Once upon a time, his parents, Clyde and Lucy, were the cutest couple on their street, but after the death of their youngest son, whom Tommy didn’t even remember, his parents constantly sorted out the relationship “under the degree”, and at such moments the boy also fell. To avoid another scandal, he often retired to the library, where he enthusiastically read the classics of English literature. A little later, he signed up for the football section. An athletic and erudite young man could become the soul of any company, but, alas, the tense atmosphere in the family, his father’s cuffs and slaps in the face, working on an oil rig from the age of 13 – all this played a role, and Tommy grew up unsociable and withdrawn. Classmates did not like him, but were afraid, and therefore did not enter into an open confrontation.

Tommy Lee Jones played American football when he was young

As noted in some sources, the future first lady of the United States, Laura Bush, was a classmate of the future actor. Moreover, in their youth, the two future celebrities were very friendly. The guy got acquainted with the scene in the senior class, accidentally getting to the rehearsal of the school theater group. Acting filled him with new emotions, and since then Tommy attended classes every day, eventually getting a role in Shakespeare’s production.

Tommy Lee Jones studied well, and therefore, after graduation, he decided to enter not just anywhere, but at the famous Harvard University. The young man managed to conquer the coveted height the first time. He easily got into the number of first-year students of the Faculty of English Language and Literature and very soon began to study under the guidance of the best teachers in America. And, of course, he continued rehearsals on the stage of the student theater, appearing during his studies, perhaps, in every performance based on Shakespeare’s plays.

Tommy Lee Jones went to Harvard

Coincidence or not, but here, too, he was in for an acquaintance with a future prominent character from the world of American politics. His college friend and roommate was the notorious politician Al Gore. They played together on the high school football team, and even after graduating from Harvard in 1969, they maintained friendly relations.

Tommy Lee Jones and Al Gore were roommates at Harvard

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree, Tommy Lee Jones moved to New York, where he made an attempt to get into a professional drama theater. At the audition, the director was skeptical about the guy who was in New York for less than a week, but when Tommy spontaneously descended into the auditorium, hugged the girl sitting there and began to whisper hot words of love in her ear, he was impressed and included the young actor in the production ” My patriot.”

Tommy Lee Jones in movies

Very soon, the first line appeared in the filmography of Tommy Lee Jones – the romantic film “Love Story”, in which Tommy played one of the secondary roles. The melodramatic picture won the love of the audience, but at some point the actor nevertheless decided to pay more attention to his theatrical career and subsequently did not appear on the screens for five years. The only exception was two episodes of the series One Life to Live, where the actor played the capricious Dr. Mark Toland.

“Love Story” – the first role of Tommy Lee Jones in the movie

In 1975, the actor returned to the world of cinema with a role in the film Eliza’s Horoscope. Subsequently, he organically alternated theatrical roles with works in “soapy” television series, in which he usually appeared only briefly: “Barnaby Jones”, “Baretta”, “Family”, “Charlie’s Angels”. He also appeared in a couple of feature films that remained almost unnoticed: the action movie Jackson County Jail and the biopic The Amazing Howard Hughes.

The turning point in the career of Tommy Lee Jones was 1977 – the year of the release of the thriller “Rolling Thunder” (“Rolling Thunder”) on the big screens. He got the role of a Vietnam veteran captured by the enemy. After 8 long years of imprisonment, he and his friend Charlie returned to their homeland, but there they were not welcome at all.

Shot from the film “Rolling Thunder”

The eighties flew by, replenishing the portfolio of Tommy Lee Jones with two dozen new roles and a number of prestigious awards. The biopic The Miner’s Daughter earned him his first Golden Globe nomination. After playing the role of cold-blooded killer Gary Gilmour in the drama The Executioner’s Song, his collection was enriched with an Emmy. There was also a type of actor – an unshakable, self-confident “brutal macho”.

Tommy Lee Jones on the set of “The Coal Miner’s Daughter”

Opinions about Tommy Lee Jones among colleagues in the acting department varied: some, like Jim Carrey and Harrison Ford, recalled with horror the experience of filming together, but venerable directors like Oliver Stone and Andrew Davis vying assured that Jones was a real genius. But there were no tapes that would make him a world-famous celebrity.

But in 1992, the name of Tommy Lee Jones finally appeared among the contenders for the Oscar. This nomination (as well as a BAFTA nomination) was brought to the actor by the role of banker Clay Shaw from the film “John F. Kennedy. Shots in Dallas. His hero was accused of assassinating the US President, as was his partner on the set, Gary Oldman. Subsequently, the actors took part in common projects more than once.

Batman Forever: Tommy Lee Jones as Villain Two-Face

But the truly breakthrough role of Tommy Lee Jones was the bailiff Samuel Gerard from the action-packed film The Fugitive. His character stood out for his sincere love for his work, as well as his willingness to do anything for the sake of a victorious end. In one scene, he even walked around in a chicken life-size puppet. This time, the Oscar nomination turned into a statuette, although the competitors were strong: John Malkovich, Ralph Fiennes and the very young Leonardo DiCaprio, who starred in the drama What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

Tommy Lee Jones had to dress up as a chicken in The Runaway

Looking ahead, the name of the actor was mentioned twice more among the applicants for the main award of the American Film Academy. Tommy Lee Jones was nominated for an Oscar in 2008 for In the Valley of Elah. Five years later, a similar success was repeated with Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. The last of these tapes, although it did not bring the actor an Oscar, but provided him with another prestigious award – the US Screen Actors Guild Prize.

1995: Tommy Lee Jones wins an Oscar for his performance in The Fugitive.

And three years later, the actor managed to successfully try himself in a comedy role, however, retaining his inherent composure and masculinity. We are talking about participation in the film Men in Black by Barry Sonnerfeld, where Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, a young but long-established actor, appeared as agents of a top-secret service that takes into account aliens who have migrated to earth. The adventures of agents K and J, who were engaged in the capture of a deadly space cockroach, gained wild success and received two sequels: in 2002 and 2012.

Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith: the legendary duet from “Men in Black”

In 2007, Tommy Lee Jones, along with Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem, appeared in the title role in the Coen brothers’ crime drama No Country for Old Men. He again played the sheriff, watching a chain of events full of blood and violence that occurred after a simple welder found a truck with drugs and an impressive amount of money in the desert. Subsequently, this tape took the fifth line in the ranking of the best films of the XXI century, sharing it with David Fincher’s Zodiac.

No Country for Old Men: Tommy Lee Jones as Sheriff Ed Bell

However, sometimes Tommy Lee Jones allowed himself to deviate from the usual image. So, in 2010, he and Samuel L. Jackson premiered a benefit performance – the drama Sunset Limited Evening Express. And two years later, the romantic comedy “Spring Hopes” saw the light, where the partner of Tommy Lee Jones was the beautiful Meryl Streep. They reincarnated as elderly spouses undergoing a relationship crisis.

tommy lee jones ad

The black comedy “Malavita” turned out to be curious. Tommy Lee Jones played FBI agent Robert Stansfield, chasing a mafia family led by Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Trailer of the film “Criminal” with Tommy Lee Jones

2016 was rich in premieres with his name in the credits. At the beginning of the year, the film “Criminal” was released, in the cast of which the “old guard” met: Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman and Kevin Costner. The younger generation of Hollywood was represented by Ryan Reynolds, who played a criminal in whose brain the mind of a deceased CIA officer was implanted. Following on the screens came the action movie “Mechanic: Resurrection”, where the main roles, in addition to Tommy Lee Jones, were played by Jessica Alba and Jason Statham.

Frame from the film “Mechanic: Resurrection”

In autumn, the premiere of the fourth film from the series about the special agent “Born” performed by Matt Damon took place. The actor appeared on the screens as CIA chief Robert Dewey.

Personal life of Tommy Lee Jones

The label of “gloomy unsociable” that followed the actor did not prevent him from tying the knot three times. Twice failed. With his first wife, the granddaughter of the famous playwright Ring Lardner, Kate Lardner, he met at a social event shortly after the premiere of “Love Story” – in the early 70s. The 26-year-old budding actor was not deterred by the fact that he and his lover belonged to different circles of society. After all, he was used to overcoming difficulties! But their family life did not stand the test of obscurity and poverty. Jones over and over again got only roles in the “soap”, and Kate was tired of waiting for her husband to receive a lucrative contract. In 1976, she filed for divorce, just a little before the triumph of “Rolling Thunder”.

Pictured: Kate Lardner, Tommy Lee Jones’ first wife

In 1981, while filming Country Roads, he met and became close friends with photographer Kimberly Clafley. A few months later they got married. The actor fulfilled a long-forgotten dream: he bought a ranch, started horses, and tried to spend every free minute from work in the company of his wife and children who were born: son Austin and daughter Victoria.

Tommy Lee Jones with ex-wife and son Austin

Shortly after the birth of his daughter, Tommy Lee received the long-awaited Oscar. It seemed that he finally found happiness and recognition.

Tommy Lee Jones and his daughter Victoria

Everything was destroyed by an affair with his young assistant Dawn Maria Laurel. Although before that he had never cheated on his wife, this time passion covered him with his head. The worst thing is that all those close to him guessed about his relationship, not only colleagues, but also his wife and even his son. Kimberly did not make scandals, but simply took the children and left. They maintained friendly relations. The Tommy Lee Jones children even got along with Dawn Laurel, who changed her last name shortly after Kimberly left and officially became Dawn Jones.

Tommy Lee Jones and his third wife Dawn Jones (2016)

Tommy Lee Jones now

Despite his advanced age, Tommy Lee Jones continued to act actively. So, in 2019, Tommy Lee Jones appeared in the fantasy thriller Ad Astra in the role of Cliff McBride. At the same time, he was busy filming Hollywood Hustle with Morgan Freeman and Robert De Niro. The film premiered in 2024.

Tommy Lee Jones in his youth and now

In 2024, the film “Wonder” is expected to be released – an action movie that tells about the investigation of a mysterious case by detective Arthur Bretnik. In it, Tommy also played one of the main roles.

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