Interesting Facts About the Life of Beloved Actor Tommy Lee Jones
The Academy Award winner is not your typical Hollywood star, and while you have probably seen him in more than one hit movie for decades, there is a lot about his life that you might have never heard of. 73-year-old Tommy Lee Jones earned the praise of the film industry (and a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award) with his role as a villain in 1993’s “The Fugitive,” opposing Harrison Ford, and ever since then, he has had a brilliant career.
Long gone are the days when he starred in a soap opera, with Jones growing to be one of the most respected character actors on the big screen, but even when he is not in the spotlight, he is quite an interesting individual. Here are some facts about the “No Country For Old Men” star that prove that he is one of a kind.
BIG IN JAPAN
Jones has achieved an iconic status in Japan that is unparalleled with the appreciation his fellow countrymen give him. The actor has been appearing on hilarious Boss coffee ads in the Asian country since 2006. In the immensely popular ads, Jones interprets a confused alien that tries out different jobs to try to understand Japanese culture. As a sign of gratitude and empathy, Jones was the only foreigner featured in a music video with Japanese celebrities attempting to raise the spirits in the country following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
HE LOVES POLO
At this point in his life, Jones’ second passion is polo. He is an avid polo player that breeds and trains horses. The star owns ranches in his native Texas as well as in Florida and Argentina. “I think polo’s the finest thing that a horse and a man can do together,” Jones, a man of few words, told The Global Mail’s Johanna Schneller about it once.
Jones has much to add to any movie he is working in, but sharing the film set with him can be a challenging experience for other actors, as his former co-star Jim Carrey once shared. The actor played The Riddler in 1995’s “Batman Forever,” on which Jones played Two-Face. In an interview with Howard Stern, Carrey recalled the time when Jones told him how he felt about him at a restaurant. “He got kind of shaking and hugged me and said, 'I hate you. I really don't like you.' And I was like, 'Wow, okay, what's going on, man?' And he said, 'I cannot sanction your buffoonery,'” the “The Mask” star said.
As rumor has it, some of the most famous lines Jones has uttered have not been scripted. The actor famously ad libbed the “I don’t care!” line in 1993’s “The Fugitive” in reply to Harrison Ford’s character claiming that he didn’t kill his wife. Jones seems to have known what he was doing, for his performance in the film earned him his only Academy Award to date. Others of his improvised lines were the one about “Saturday morning cartoons” in “Under Siege” (1992) and the revealing speech his character John Neville gives at the end of “Eyes of Laura Mars” (1978).
'The Fugitive' was released 25 years ago today. Here's a look back the critically acclaimed film starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones--who took the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. pic.twitter.com/8ROuD1NtxS— IMDb (@IMDb) August 6, 2018
LOVE STORY WAS PARTIALLY BASED ON HIM
Writer Eric Segal, author of the book 1970 “Love Story” which was later adapted into a film, revealed in 1997 that the hero of the story, Oliver Barrett, was half-modeled after Jones. Even though Jones didn’t get to play the character, he landed his first movie role in the film as Oliver’s roommate Hank.
A DIFFICULT MAN TO INTERVIEW
Jones is known among journalists and hosts for being a difficult subject to interview since he has a lot of topics that he is not willing to address whatsoever. Actually, just asking him something he finds uninteresting can lead to an awkward situation, since he is reportedly not afraid of speaking his mind about it. To be honest, he just doesn’t enjoy doing interviews, and he is so hard with interviews that he once reportedly made a GQ reporter cry by criticizing her and her questions.
Jones attended the prestigious Harvard University, from which he graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in English with honors in 1969. In there, he also discovered his talent as a football player, playing for the college league. During his time at Harvard, Jones was undecided between pursuing a sports career and becoming a professional actor. But by the time he graduated, he had made up his mind and move to New York City.
As a student at Harvard, Jones shared his dorm room with then-future vice president of the US, 71-year-old Al Gore. In fact, Gore was the other half of the inspiration Segal used to write “Love Story,” as he met them in 1968. Jones remained friends with Gore, and in 2000 he publicly supported the Senator in his running for president of the US, which Gore ultimately lost to George W. Bush.
After graduating from Harvard and already focused on what he wanted to do with his life, a young and confident Jones considered he didn’t need any acting lessons in order to make it in the entertainment business. Against all odds, within ten days of his graduation, and just moving to New York City, Jones got himself an agent and a part in Broadway’s “A Patriot for Me,” which earned him a place in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.”
In 2014, Jones released his second film as a big-screen director, “The Homesman” which received critical acclaim and earned Jones a nomination for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Despite his reputation as a real-life cowboy, Jones explicitly wanted to make the opposite of a western film as we know it, but as much as he wanted to portray complex female characters, he refused to the label of “feminist” for the film. “It would not be unfair to call [the movie] that but I’m not looking for labels,” he told The Guardian. In fact, he wouldn’t accept his film to be label as a Western either.
Jones has been married three times. His first wife was actress/writer Katherine Larder, from 1971 to 1978. Then he was married to Kimberlea Cloughley from 1981 to 1996, sharing children Austin and Victoria with her. The actor has been married to photographer Dawn Laurel since 2001, when they finally tied the knot after years of dating.
HE SPEAKS SPANISH
Being born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, right across the border from Mexico, and after years of raising horses and cattle in Argentina, it is not surprising that Jones is fluent both in English and Spanish. Although his bilingual condition hasn’t been exploited much in his career, he does speak Spanish in the 2005 film he directed and starred in “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.”
Before winning a scholarship to attend Harvard University, Jones went to school at the Midland Lee High School at the same time than former first lady Laura Bush, then known as Laura Welch. Jones later graduated from St. Mark’s School in Dallas, while Bush remained in Midland Lee High School until her graduation in 1964.
A REAL COWBOY
Jones is a real-life cowboy who owns a 3000-acre ranch in Texas and likes to spend as much time as possible around horses, and this is why he puts so much passion into playing cowboys for the big screen. The actor was proud to be inducted in the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2009, alongside fellow actor Barry Corbin, who shared the screen with Jones in 2007’s “No Country for Old Men.” “This might be the first time that I’ve taken an award personally. This is the first time in all my long years of award-winning that I wish my granddad could be here,” the star said when accepting the award.
A STYLISH MAN
Jones might be a tough cowboy, but it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t indulge in some luxuries proper of a Hollywood star as successful as himself. He has admitted his weakness for designer’s suits, and he is happy to share that he has a tailor in the famous Savile Row in London. “I’m kind of pleased with myself that I’ve got a tailor on Savile Row. I’m 68 years old. I deserve it,” the actor told The Guardian in 2014.
HE HAS THREE ACADEMY NOMINATIONS
They always say that hard work pays, and Tommy Lee is an example of hard work that should pay. Although he had ventured into different careers before he found his acting calling, he became a shining star in the industry in no time. Did you know that alongside 12 others, Tommy Lee was nominated three times in a row for the best supporting actor at the Academy Awards? Not only that, in 1993, the fantastic actor walked away with an Academy Award for best-supporting actor in a movie titled 'The Fugitive.' It's funny how many people never knew that Tommy Lee played a supporting role in that film.
DOES NOT DO WELL WITH INSTRUCTORS
Some may say that Tommy Lee is aggressive and unpredictable, but one thing that we do know for sure is that he does not do well with instructors or people who teach him how to do things. It is funny because he plays significant roles in the movie, and for every film, some directors tell actors what to do and how to do it. According to Tommy Lee, he would never want to be in a position where he will be told what to do, and that is why he never got along with teachers. The only reason he would sit down in a place where he has to be told what to do is if the person giving the instruction was better than him, and he knew it.
HE HATES LABELS
In a discussion about a film that he directed titled "The Homesman," Tommy Lee explained the movie in an interview with the Guardian, saying it was all about women and not men. He also said that the movie involved lunatics and not heroes, so he did not get why people saw it as otherwise. In the end, Tommy Lee stated that in every aspect, women faced objectification and trivialization. That is why he decided to create a feminist piece.
HE HAS A MOVIE TWIN
When it comes to making great films with his favorite buddy, Tommy Lee will be by no one else's side than Samuel L. Jackson; the duo is probably twins from another planner. According to Samuel, Tommy is an intelligent and passionate person when you talk to him in person, and he appears to be funnier than he is in movies. While this may be hard to believe, Samuel and Tommy have been friends for a long time, and if he says that Tommy is a good guy, but just difficult to understand, then that's what it is.
HE IS OKAY WITH MAKING PEOPLE UNCOMFORTABLE
Many people who have had the privilege to interview Tommy Lee may have one or two things to point out about how he acts during an interview and how it seems like he always has a wall up. However, no one has a better description of how Tommy acts during interviews when it comes to Josh Brolin. According to Brolin, Tommy Lee is most comfortable when he makes other people uncomfortable. We know this is a harsh thing to say about the actor, but here's what Brolin encountered with him during a film set. While playing the younger version of Tommy Lee, Brolin made the mistake of sending regards to Tommy from his wife, Diane Lane, and this set off a bomb in the real Tommy Lee.
HE LOVES WILL SMITH
Every actor has a favorite actor that he or she likes and looks up to, even though they do not talk about it always. Fro the great Tommy Lee, whom everyone thinks is a difficult man to interact with. He is very passionate about his colleague, Will Smith. According to him, Will is one of the most generous and smartest people he has ever known. He also talked about how Will lives to make everyone around him happy, and that is one of the reasons why he is very attracted to him.
THE HOMESMAN WAS ONE OF HIS BEST PRODUCTIONS
Tommy Lee directed a fantastic film titled "The Homesman," and this made him of the greatest directors in the industry. The film received a lot of good reviews from fans and critics all over the world. The movie also represented at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The film also earned him recognition as he was compared to the greatest Western director, John Ford. Since then, Tommy Lee has been seen as an icon in the movie industry. Though he may not be acting in many movies now, he has made a mark in the industry and will always be known as a legend.
HE NEVER OPTED FOR AN ACTING CAREER
There are several actors in the industry today who knew what they wanted since their childhood, which was acting. Nevertheless, for a few people like Tommy Lee, acting was never on his radar until later. As a child, he never saw himself on television, taking on the roles of different people as he was more engaged in polo. He also never took any acting classes to improve on his skills until he moved to New York, where he began a career in theatre. His acting career kicked off entirely in 1969, and his big break came in a film titled "Love Story." He acted alongside Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw, and the movie made the nomination list at the Academy Awards in late 1970.
HIS VOICE WAS GOD-SENT
Some people are known for their unique skills when it comes to acting, but for Tommy Lee, his voice did the trick for him. He has a harsh and Texas accent, and this attracted a lot of producers over the years who wanted that beauty in their movies. He was cast in several ABC movies over the years, and most of his roles were tough. However, he handled them perfectly. Till date, actor, Tommy Lee is still considered as one of the most sought after actors for tough roles in the industry, and this has made him an icon in every regard.
HE DISLIKED SALLY FIELDS
There have been reports of Tommy Lee not getting along with some of his co-actors. One prevalent episode happened with Sally Fields, whom he told that he did not like. In 1981, the duo was cast in an amazing film titled "Back Roads," and though they had to pretend for the sake of the movie, it was obvious that they were not getting along. The film was produced successfully, but no one came forward to talk about why Tommy and Sally were at each other's throats.