Tommy Lee Jones turned 75 years old today.
One man. Three names. Countless movies and television (yes, you should find a way to watch Lonesome Dove) appearances that he was meant to play.
And now, 75 years on this earth.
Outsider’s Jim Casey and Wes Blankenship took the opportunity to spin the content mill and honor the occasion with a conversation about TLJ. We just took a couple of minutes to cut it up about the roles, characters, and scenes that immediately spring to mind when you think about Mr. Jones.
Tommy Lee Jones Was Built to Play Bell
No Country for Old Men is the reflex, I think, for much of our audience. Jones’ portrayal of Sheriff Ed Tom Bell comes straight from the pages of the source material from Cormac McCarthy (yes, you should find a way to read the book).
From the opening scene, Jones’ monologue about the old-timers and how they’d “operate” in the modern era brings you right into Bell’s police cruiser. You’re a part of this world. There will be coin tosses and a bovine air gun. Buckle up.
Jones Won an Oscar Because He Didn’t Care
It’s impossible not to think about the role that won Tommy Lee a Best Supporting Actor Oscar: Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard in 1993’s The Fugitive.
If you never knew a thing about Tommy Lee Jones’ acting career, persona, etc… His confrontation with Harrison Ford’s Dr. Richard Kimble in that drainage tunnel tells you all you need to know.
Kimble: “I didn’t kill my wife.”
Gerard, with all the empathy of a Saguaro cactus: “I don’t care.”
Tommy Does Doo
With apologies to Walk the Line and Crazy Heart (no apology to Pure Country), 1980’s Coal Miner’s Daughter is the greatest film from the country music genre. Tommy Lee Jones’ turn as Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn opposite Sissy Spacek’s Loretta Lynn in the biopic is a big reason.
Tommy Lee’s hard-nosed Doo steals plenty of scenes, but Sissy took home the Oscar (ever notice how TLJ’s co-stars always win Oscar hardware? Javier Bardem in No Country and Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln come to mind). Tommy Lee elevates everyone’s game.
Doolittle Lynn: “There ain’t nothin’ for me in Kentucky, Loretta, ’cept a chest full of coal dust and being an old man time I’m 40—you ask your daddy.”
Of course, there was Agent K alongside Will Smith’s Agent J in the Men in Black franchise. We don’t have to talk about Batman Forever. He didn’t exactly jive with Jim Carrey (The Riddler), but that’s to be expected when an actual piece of granite is co-starring with an unhinged comedic mind.
(Incidentally found this clip while celebrating and appreciating the life of Norm Macdonald Tuesday evening. Rest in peace, sir.)
Jones isn’t for everyone, I guess. Nobody is. Jones would probably tell you he doesn’t care. He’s definitely right up our alley, and we’re glad he’s a part of this world.