Tom Lee Jones


Actor
Tom Lee Jones

About

Birth Place
San Saba, Texas, USA
Born
September 15, 1946

Biography

Despite wading through a significant amount of dreck at the beginning of his career, actor Tommy Lee Jones emerged to become one of the most admired and respected film stars of his generation. An inauspicious start on the daytime soap "One Life to Live" (ABC, 1967-2012) eventually led to leading roles in made-for-television movies like "The Amazing Howard Hughes" (CBS, 1977) and "The Exe...

Family & Companions

Katherine Lardner
Wife
Actor. Married for seven years; divorced; granddaughter of author Ring Lardner.
Lisa Taylor
Companion
Model.
Kimberlea Jones
Wife
Photographer. Married on May 30, 1981; filed for divorce in August 1995; divorced in 1996.
Dawn Maria Laurel
Wife
Photographer, camera assistant. Born in Texas on April 28, 1964; together since c. 1996; married on March 19, 2001.

Notes

"Polo is the finest thing a man and a horse can do together." --Champion polo player Tommy Lee Jones

Jones suffered minor injuries in a polo mishap in October 1998.

Biography

Despite wading through a significant amount of dreck at the beginning of his career, actor Tommy Lee Jones emerged to become one of the most admired and respected film stars of his generation. An inauspicious start on the daytime soap "One Life to Live" (ABC, 1967-2012) eventually led to leading roles in made-for-television movies like "The Amazing Howard Hughes" (CBS, 1977) and "The Executioner's Song" (NBC, 1982) that clearly demonstrated his acting prowess. An Emmy award win for the miniseries "Lonesome Dove" (CBS, 1989) raised his fortunes permanently, leading to defining film roles in "JFK" (1991), "The Fugitive" (1993) and "Men in Black" (1997). Though he settled into a rut playing the grizzled veteran looking for redemption in below the radar fare like "The Hunted" (2003) and "The Missing" (2005), Jones found himself the talk of Oscar buzz once again with empathetic performances in "No Country For Old Men" (2007) and "In the Valley of Elah" (2007), both of which affirmed his status as an actor able to deliver some of the most powerful and nuanced performances of recent memory.

Born on Sept. 15, 1946 in San Saba, TX, Jones was raised an only child by his father, Clyde, a ranch hand-turned-oil rigger, and mother, Lucille Marie, a beauty parlor owner. His father's job led the family from one West Texas oil town to another before finally settling in Midland. Despite a rough-and-tumble image, even as a child, Jones excelled both in both academics and athletics. He received an athletic scholarship to attend St. Mark's School of Texas - an elite all-boys prep school in Dallas - where he played both football and soccer. It was at St. Mark's that Jones' interest in performing on stage reached fruition - he watched a group of boys rehearsing for a production of "Mister Roberts" and soon followed suit. His first play was Dylan Thomas' "Under Milk Wood," which was soon followed by several other performances, including a turn as Sir Thomas More in "A Man For All Seasons."

After graduating from St. Mark's, the erudite Jones attended Harvard University where he wound up rooming with future vice president and Nobel Prize winner Al Gore. He also continued playing football and acting, though the latter took on more significance as time wore on. During the summer, Jones performed in repertory theater alongside contemporaries John Lithgow, Stockard Channing and James Wood in Cambridge, MA, a time he described as "the best experience I had in theater." (The Lost Angeles Times, Aug. 1, 1993). Jones thrived at Cambridge, honing his already considerable gifts in productions of Shakespeare, Brecht, and Pinter. He graduated Harvard cum laude in 1969 with a degree in English, then moved to New York City to continued performing on stage. Unlike most actors, however, Jones landed work right away and worked steadily for the rest of his life. He landed his first film role in "Love Story" (1970), playing one of Ryan O'Neal's roommates, then had more prominent roles in two low-budget indies, "Life Study" (1972) and "Eliza's Horoscope" (1972). Right from the start, Jones' career was off and running.

Despite a foray into the film world, Jones continued doing theater in New York for a few years. He then made the jump to the small screen after landing the role of Dr. Mark Toland on the soap opera "One Life to Live." He learned the ins and outs of three-camera productions in about a month, then spent the next four years grinding away in the vapid wasteland of daytime television. Jones eventually quit the show, though producers convinced him to stick around another couple of weeks so they could appropriately write the character off the show. He agreed, and in that time saw the once impeccably decent Dr. Toland get turned into an adulterer, drug addict, rapist and murderer without rhyme or reason. Back on film, Jones had his first starring role in "Jackson County Jail" (1976), playing a con on the lam with a fellow jailhouse inmate (Yvette Mimieux) who kills a psychopathic prison guard after getting raped and beaten.

Before there was Leonardo DiCaprio, Jones played his version of Howard Hughes in the made-for-television miniseries "The Amazing Howard Hughes," an intriguing, but ultimately dull look at the airline tycoon's life and loves. Jones continued his rise to leading man status, starring opposite William Devane in "Rolling Thunder" (1977) and playing a police detective supposedly protecting a successful photographer (Faye Dunaway) from a serial killer in "Eyes of Laura Mars" (1978). He was overshadowed by Sissy Spacek's Oscar-winning performance as country-western singer Loretta Lynn in "Coal Miner's Daughter" (1980), then failed to attract much attention as an unemployed drifter who goes in search of his California dream with a prostitute (Sally Field) in "Back Roads" (1981). But Jones received his proper due with his performance as convicted murderer Gary Gilmore in the made-for-television miniseries "The Executioner's Song," based on Norman Mailer's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. His searing portrayal of Gilmore during his final nine months - which included parole, re-imprisonment and finally death by firing squad - earned Jones his first major award: an Emmy for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Special.

Returning to his theatrical roots, Jones starred as the charismatic Bill Starbuck, a traveling pitchman who tries to con a farm spinster (Tuesday Weld) into letting him cure the drought devastating her family's farm in "The Rainmaker" (HBO, 1982). After taking to the high seas as the captain of a pirate ship in "Nate and Hayes" (1983), Jones returned to the small screen for an adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "Cat On a Hot Tin Roof" (PBS, 1984), playing Brick, a former football player having marital problems with his wife, Maggie (Jessica Lange), that stem from him questioning his own sexuality. Up to this point, Jones had made a significant impact on television, but had failed to do the same on the big screen. Roles in movies like "Black Moon Rising" (1986) and "The Big Town" (1987) failed to propel the actor further in his feature career. Back on television, he delivered one of most important and noted small screen portrayals in "Lonesome Dove," playing Woodrow Call, a taciturn cowboy who convinces his fun-loving partner (Robert Duvall) to go on one last adventure before riding off into the sunset. The acclaimed miniseries earned 18 Emmy award nominations, including one for Jones for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special.

Despite his film career not living up to his work on television, Jones began to make a turn around as the 1980s came to a close, establishing himself as a bone fide film star. He delivered an unnerving portrayal as Cosmo, a swaggering mobster who competes with a Jazz club owner (Sting) over property and the attention of a beautiful woman (Melanie Griffith) in "Stormy Monday" (1988). After teaming with director Andrew Davis and Gene Hackman on "The Package" (1989), he finally came of age on the big screen with a riveting performance in "JFK." Jones played Clay Shaw, a New Orleans businessman and former head of the International Trade Mart who became the only person ever prosecuted in connection with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, thanks to the tireless and often ridiculed investigation by Orleans Parish District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner). Because of his engaging performance, Jones earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Now firmly atop the heap of leading actors, Jones continued to delight in eccentric heavies like "Under Seige" (1992), playing a disgruntled ex-CIA agent who leads a team aboard a nuclear submarine in attempt to snatch the nuclear warheads and sell them to a Middle Eastern country. Jones' fun performance elevated what could very well have been another forgettable Steven Seagal actioner. He pulled out all the stops for his next project, "The Fugitive," the stunning remake of the classic 1960s television series. Jones played a crafty and relentless U.S. marshal on the hunt for an escaped convict (Harrison Ford) trying to prove his innocence after being convicted of murdering his wife. Come award season, Jones found himself the winner of a Golden Globe and an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role. Jones followed his A-list making role of U.S. Marshall Gerard with sub-standard, but high profile genre fare like "Blown Away" (1994) and "The Client" (1994). Jones turned up the creepiness factor to full throttle in "Natural Born Killers" (1994), playing a seedy warden of a prison housing a murderous couple (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis)-turned-media darlings after going on a kill-crazy rampage across the country.

Jones continued a fruitful year with an uncompromising portrait of ambiguous baseball great Ty "Cobb" (1994) in the well-acted, but little-seen biopic. However, he went way over-the-top in "Batman Forever" (1995), chewing scenery as Two-Face, a crusading district attorney turned dualistic bad guy. Although the disaster picture "Volcano" (1997) blew up in his face, Jones was back on top with the blockbuster hit "Men in Black" - an "X-Files" meets "Ghostbusters" action-comedy for the eye-candy crowd. Based on the comic book creations of Lowell Cunningham, "Men in Black" chronicles two alien busters (Jones and Will Smith) in the pan-galactic version of Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) who track down and subdue extraterrestrial invaders, "neutralizing" any witnesses (with the enormous ray guns atop their 1962 Ford LTDs) into believing the saucer that just flew by was St. Elmo's fire or swamp gas. Played with maximum tongue-in-cheek kitsch, Jones' Agent Kay - with his dead pan comic sense - was the perfect foil for Smith's smart-alecky freshness.

Jones once again stepped into his award-winning role of Sam Gerard for the lesser-quality sequel "U.S. Marshals" (1998), this time hunting down a fugitive (Wesley Snipes) accused of two New York assassinations. After voicing the hard-nosed action figure-come-to-life Maj. Chip Hazard in "Small Soldiers" (1998), Jones appeared in the routine, but popular thriller "Double Jeopardy" (1999) opposite Ashley Judd, setting the template for a series of similar, affordably made films that typically teamed a woman in jeopardy (frequently Judd) with an older, father-figure-like A-list male star (typically Morgan Freeman). He also carried the weight of director William Friedkin's slightly-better-than-routine military legal drama "Rules of Engagement" (2000) opposite Samuel L. Jackson, before lending his considerable charisma to his role as a daredevil pilot in director Clint Eastwood's amusing comedy adventure "Space Cowboys" (2001), joining Eastwood, Donald Sutherland and James Garner as a quartet of over-the-hill astronauts who suit up to solve a world threatening crisis in space.

After reuniting with Smith to reprise Agent Kay for the successful, but not well-received "Men in Black II" (2002), Jones starred in "The Hunted" (2003), an efficient, stripped down chase film that saw Jones play a retired FBI agent scouring the wilderness for a Special Forces assassin (Benecio del Toro) he trained who has dropped out of society while committing a series of murders. He then portrayed a world weary part Native American shaman who reunites with his distant daughter (Cate Blanchett) when one of her children is kidnapped in director Ron Howard's disappointing Western thriller "The Missing" (2003). Radically shifting gears, Jones tried his hand at a lightweight comedy with thriller elements in "Man of the House" (2005), playing a no-nonsense Texas Ranger forced to oversee a quintet of ditzy college cheerleaders who witness a murder. Jones gamely tried his hand at comedy and light romance, but seemed far too accomplished to have much tolerance for the lowbrow material.

It was only a matter of time that Jones would try his hand at directing. With "The Three Burials of Melquiadas Estrada" (2005), a bleak, but poignant western centered around a brand new border patrol agent (Barry Pepper) who, in a panic, hastily guns down an illegal immigrant (Julio Cesar Cedillo), then unceremoniously buries him in the desert. Along comes a grizzled rancher (Jones) upset over the dead man's shoddy treatment, who kidnaps the border agent, forces him to dig up the body, then takes both on a dangerous journey to Mexico in order to seek justice. Jones was hailed by many critics for his triumphant debut and even earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Feature. Jones next turned in a cameo performance as a hit man-turned-door keep in "A Prairie Home Companion" (2006), Robert Altman's fictional take on Garrison Keillor's long-running radio show that featured an unusual cast of local talent and the host's rambling monologues about the ideal town, Lake Wobegon.

In 2007, Jones had perhaps his best year to date in front of the camera. For "In the Valley of Elah" (2007), he played a former military MP who goes in search of his son - an Iraq war veteran - after receiving a call that he's gone AWOL. The father teams up with a reluctant police detective (Charlize Theron) and, along the way, discovers that his son may have been murdered. Jones gave a muted and agonizing performance as a grieving father learning the truth behind his son's time spent in Iraq, rightfully earning heaps of critical praise and several award nominations, including one for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Right on the heels of "Elah" came "No Country For Old Men" (2007), a bleak, but tense crime thriller about a down-and-out Vietnam vet (Josh Brolin) who finds a briefcase containing $2 million in the desert near the remains of a bloody drug deal gone bad. Taking the satchel of cash only makes Moss' life worse, forcing him to elude all manner of pursuers, including a deadly assassin (Javier Bardem) who flips coins for human lives and an aging sheriff (Jones) at the end of his tether. For his work, Jones earned nominations at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards for Best Supporting Actor.

From there, Jones played a small town Louisiana sheriff on the hunt for a serial killer in the direct-to-DVD thriller, "In the Electric Mist" (2009), co-starring John Goodman, Peter Sarsgaard and Kelly Macdonald. He went on to play the long-standing partner of a firm going through severe layoffs in "The Company Men" (2010), John Wells' low-key drama about the lives ruined by corporate greed. Jones next directed, executive produced and starred in "The Sunset Limited" (HBO, 2011), an adaptation of the play by Cormac McCarthy about an ex-con (Samuel L. Jackson) who saves a suicidal college professor (Jones) from throwing himself in front of a moving train, only to struggle to comprehend his unwavering despair. Returning to blockbuster studio films, Jones co-starred in "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011), playing Col. Chester Phillips, who enlists a meek and mild wannabe Army recruit (Chris Evans) into a secret government program that creates super soldiers. Meanwhile, he once again reprised Agent K for "Men in Black 3" (2012), where Agent J (Will Smith) goes back to the 1960s in order to save K's younger self (Josh Brolin) and the future from catastrophe. The film was a massive global hit, guaranteeing there would be a fourth installment to the series. Meanwhile, he starred opposite Meryl Streep in the romantic comedy, "Hope Springs" (2012), in which both played a couple attending an intense counseling program after 30 years of marriage, and he essayed Republican leader Thaddeus Stevens in Steven Spielberg's historical epic, "Lincoln" (2012), the latter performance garnering him nominations at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards as Best Supporting Actor.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

The Homesman (2014)
Director
The Sunset Limited (2011)
Director
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)
Director
Good Old Boys (1995)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Ad Astra (2019)
Shock and Awe (2018)
Villa Capri (2017)
Mechanic: Resurrection (2016)
Criminal (2016)
Jason Bourne (2016)
The Homesman (2014)
Emperor (2013)
The Family (2013)
Hope Springs (2012)
Men in Black III (2012)
Lincoln (2012)
The Sunset Limited (2011)
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
The Company Men (2010)
In the Electric Mist (2009)
Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 (2008)
No Country for Old Men (2007)
The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez (2007)
In the Valley of Elah (2007)
A Prairie Home Companion (2006)
Man of the House (2005)
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)
The Missing (2003)
The Hunted (2003)
Men in Black II (2002)
Space Cowboys (2000)
Rules of Engagement (2000)
Double Jeopardy (1999)
Small Soldiers (1998)
Voice
U.S. Marshals (1998)
Volcano (1997)
Men in Black (1997)
Batman Forever (1995)
Two-Face
Good Old Boys (1995)
Blue Sky (1994)
The Client (1994)
Blown Away (1994)
Cobb (1994)
Natural Born Killers (1994)
The Fugitive (1993)
Samuel Gerard
Heaven and Earth (1993)
House Of Cards (1993)
Under Siege (1992)
JFK (Director's Cut) (1991)
Fire Birds (1990)
The Package (1989)
Stranger on My Land (1988)
Gotham (1988)
Stormy Monday (1988)
April Morning (1988)
The Big Town (1987)
Broken Vows (1987)
Yuri Nosenko, KGB (1986)
Black Moon Rising (1986)
The Park Is Mine (1985)
The River Rat (1984)
Nate and Hayes (1983)
Back Roads (1981)
Coal Miner's Daughter (1980)
The Betsy (1978)
Eyes Of Laura Mars (1978)
Rolling Thunder (1977)
Jackson County Jail (1976)
Charlie's Angels (1976)
Smash Up on Interstate 5 (1976)
Life Study (1972)
Eliza's Horoscope (1972)
Love Story (1970)
Hank

Writer (Feature Film)

The Homesman (2014)
Screenplay
Good Old Boys (1995)
Screenplay

Producer (Feature Film)

The Homesman (2014)
Executive Producer
The Sunset Limited (2011)
Executive Producer
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)
Producer
Man of the House (2005)
Executive Producer

Music (Feature Film)

The Homesman (2014)
Song Performer
Under Siege (1992)
Song

Cast (Special)

The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (2000)
Performer
72nd Annual Academy Awards Presentation (2000)
Presenter
Intimate Portrait: Tipper Gore (2000)
Narrator
The Kennedy Center Honors (1998)
Performer
The 69th Annual Academy Awards (1997)
Presenter
Al Gore: A Burning Ambition (1997)
The 67th Annual Academy Awards (1995)
Presenter
Riddle Me This: Why Is Batman Forever? (1995)
Proudheart (1993)
Lonesome Dove: The Making of an Epic (1992)
Texas 150: A Celebration Special (1986)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1984)
The Rainmaker (1982)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Lonesome Dove (1989)
The Executioner's Song (1982)
The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977)

Life Events

1960

Won a scholarship to attend St. Mark's prep school in Dallas, TX

1969

Landed first acting job on Broadway ten days after arriving in New York City in John Osborne's play "A Patriot For Me"

1969

Starred in Sal Mineo's controversial off-Broadway production "Fortune and Men's Eyes"

1970

Feature film debut, "Love Story"

1971

Played Dr. Mark Toland on the ABC daytime serial drama "One Life to Live"

1971

Appeared in the Broadway production "Four on a Garden" with Carol Channing and Sid Caesar

1972

Played a leading role in the low-budget Canadian feature "Eliza's Horoscope"

1974

Cast as Stephen Daedalus in "Ulysses in Nighttown" co-starring Zero Mostel

1976

TV-movie debut, the pilot for the ABC-TV series "Charlie's Angels"

1976

First lead in a Hollywood feature, "Jackson County Jail"

1977

First TV miniseries, "The Amazing Howard Hughes" (CBS), in which he played the title role

1982

Returned to TV after five years in feature films to act in an HBO production of the play "The Rainmaker"

1982

Played the lead role of convicted killer Gary Gillmore in acclaimed NBC miniseries "The Executioner's Song"

1989

Played Woodrow F. Call in the four-part CBS miniseries "Lonesome Dove"

1989

First film with director Andrew Davis, "The Package"

1991

Renewed his prominence in Hollywood features after his performance in the controversial Oliver Stone-directed hit film "JFK"

1993

Offered an Academy Award-winning performance as U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard in "The Fugitive"

1994

Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

1995

Debut as director and screenwriter (written with J T Allen), the TV-movie, "Good Old Boys" (TNT), also starred

1997

Teamed with Will Smith for smash hit "Men in Black"

1998

Reprised "Fugitive" role of Sam Gerard in "U.S. Marshals"

1999

Appeared as a parole officer to Ashley Judd in the hit "Double Jeopardy"

2000

Starred with Samuel L Jackson in "Rules of Engagement"

2002

Reprised role of Agent K opposite Smith in sequel "Men in Black II"

2003

Starred in the action feature "The Hunted"

2005

Feature directing debut, "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada"; also starred and co-produced

2006

Cast in Robert Altman's ensemble feature "A Prairie Home Companion," based on Garrison Keilor's radio program

2007

Played a father whose son, a soldier who recently returned from Iraq, mysteriously goes missing in "In the Valley of Elah"

2007

Played a Local Sheriff in the Coen brothers' "No Country For Old Men"

2010

Cast alongside Ben Affleck in the recession drama "The Company Men," directed by John Wells

2011

Directed, produced, and co-starred with Samuel L. Jackson in an adaptation of "The Sunset Limited" for HBO

2011

Cast as Col. Chester Phillips in "Captain America: The First Avenger"

2012

Reprised his role of Agent K in "Men in Black III"; re-teamed with director Barry Sonnenfeld and co-star Smith

2012

Co-starred with Meryl Streep as a couple trying to bring some spark back to their marriage in "Hope Springs"

2012

Portrayed Pennsylvania representative Thaddeus Stevens opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln"

Family

Clyde Jones
Father
Oil rigger. Worked in Texas oil fields.
Lucille Marie Jones
Mother
Police officer. Also owned beauty parlor; parents were married and divorced twice.
Austin Leonard Jones
Son
Born c. 1983 on a location shoot in New Zealand; mother, Kimberlea Cloughley.
Victoria Kafka Jones
Daughter
Born c. 1991; mother, Kimberlea Cloughley.

Companions

Katherine Lardner
Wife
Actor. Married for seven years; divorced; granddaughter of author Ring Lardner.
Lisa Taylor
Companion
Model.
Kimberlea Jones
Wife
Photographer. Married on May 30, 1981; filed for divorce in August 1995; divorced in 1996.
Dawn Maria Laurel
Wife
Photographer, camera assistant. Born in Texas on April 28, 1964; together since c. 1996; married on March 19, 2001.

Bibliography

Notes

"Polo is the finest thing a man and a horse can do together." --Champion polo player Tommy Lee Jones

Jones suffered minor injuries in a polo mishap in October 1998.

In answer to a question if making films is fun, Jones responded, "Damn right, it's fun. There's good company. It's creative. It's adventurous. Combines high adventure and art with intellection. It's more fun than polo. It's like going undefeated in football." --Tommy Lee Jones quoted in Harvard Magazine, May-June, 1994.

While attending Harvard, Jones roomed with Vice President Al Gore. In a profile by Cathy Horyn which appeared in the Washington Post, Gore said: "Tommy has an unerring sense for the poetry of life that is not apparent to someone who simply sees [his taciturnity] ... He went through a lot in his childhood. Childhood is a crucible for a lot of us, but I think his was forged in a pretty hot fire." --Quoted in the Los Angeles Times Calendar, August 1, 1993.

Tommy Lee Jones's senior tutor from his undergraduate Harvard days, playwright William Alfred: "His most famous role was Coriolanus. Unforgettable. So was the version of "Everyman" he directed. When Everyman, Tommy Lee, went down into the grave [he used a trap door in the stage]--when this big, strapping Texan surrendered to death, they sang "Amazing Grace". There wasn't a dry eye. I've been watching him for 25 years. He's the actor of his generation. I think--I hope--he will return to Shakespeare. What a Hamlet he'd be! Tommy Lee used to stand on my back porch and shake quarters in his hand, and squirrels would come down from the trees. That's how country boys call squirrels. I think his grandmother was a full Comanche. You can see that in his rugged face. --Quoted in Harvard Magazine, May-June 1994.