Tommy Lee Jones
Jones was born in San Saba, Texas,the son of Lucille Marie (née Scott), a police officer, school teacher, and beauty shop owner, and Clyde C. Jones, an oil field worker the two were married and divorced twice. Jones has Cherokee ancestry from his grandmother.He was a resident of Midland, Texas and attended Robert E. Lee High School.
Jones graduated from the St. Mark's School of Texas, where he attended on scholarship and is now on the board of directors, and attended Harvard College on a need-based scholarship. He stayed in Mower B-12 as a freshman, across the hall from future Vice President Al Gore, the son of Sen. Albert Gore of Tennessee. As an upperclassman, he was roommates in Dunster House with Gore and Bob Somerby, who later became editor of the media criticism site the Daily Howler. Jones played offensive tackle on Harvard's undefeated 1968 varsity football team, was nominated as a first-team All-Ivy League selection, and played in the memorable and literally last-minute Harvard sixteen-point comeback to tie Yale in the 1968 Game. He recounts his memory of "the most famous football game in Ivy League history" in the documentary Harvard Beats Yale 29-29. Jones graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1969, and his senior thesis was on "the mechanics of Catholicism" in Flannery O'Connor.
Jones moved to New York to become an actor, making his Broadway debut in 1969's A Patriot for Me in a number of supporting roles. In 1970, he landed his first film role, appropriately playing a Harvard student in Love Story (Erich Segal, the author of "Love Story," said that he based the lead character of Oliver on the two undergrad roommates he knew while attending Harvard, Jones and Gore).
In early 1971, he returned to Broadway in Abe Burrows' Four on a Garden where he shared the stage with Carol Channing and Sid Caesar. Between 1971 and 1975, he portrayed Dr. Mark Toland on the ABC soap opera, One Life to Live. He returned to the stage for a 1974 production of Ulysses in Nighttown with Zero Mostel. In films, he played an escaped convict hunted in Jackson County Jail (1976), a Vietnam veteran in Rolling Thunder (1977) and an automobile mogul, co-starring with Laurence Olivier, in the Harold Robbins drama The Betsy.
In 1980, Jones earned his first Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of country singer Loretta Lynn's husband, Doolittle "Mooney" Lynn, in the popular Coal Miner's Daughter. In 1981, he played a drifter opposite Sally Field in Back Roads, a comedy that received middling reviews.
In 1983, he received an Emmy for Best Actor for his performance as murderer Gary Gilmore in a TV adaptation of Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song. That same year he starred in a pirate adventure, Nate and Hayes, playing the heavily bearded Captain Bully Hayes.
In 1989, he earned another Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Texas Ranger lawman Woodrow F. Call in the acclaimed television mini-series Lonesome Dove, based on the best-seller by Larry McMurtry.
In the 1990s, blockbuster hits such as The Fugitive co-starring Harrison Ford, Batman Forever co-starring Val Kilmer, and Men in Black with Will Smith made Jones one of the best-paid and most in-demand actors in Hollywood. His role in The Fugitive won wide acclaim and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. When he accepted his Oscar, his head was shaved for his role in the film Cobb, a situation he made light of in his speech with: "All a man can say at a time like this is 'I am not really bald.'"
Among his other well-known performances during the 1990s were those of the accused conspirator Clay Shaw/Clay Bertrand in the 1991 film JFK (earning him another Oscar nomination), as a terrorist who hijacks a U.S. Navy battleship in 1992's Under Siege and as a maximum-security prison warden in way over his head in 1994's Natural Born Killers.
Jones co-starred with director Clint Eastwood as astronauts in the 2000 film Space Cowboys, leading a space rescue mission.
In 2005, the first theatrical feature film Jones directed, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, was presented at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. In it, Jones speaks both English and Spanish. It won him the Best Actor Award. His first film as a director had been in The Good Old Boys in 1995, a made-for-television movie.
Tommy Lee Jones at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival.
Two strong performances in 2007 marked a resurgence in Jones' career, one as a beleaguered father investigating the disappearance of his soldier son in In the Valley of Elah, the other as a Texas sheriff hunting an assassin in the Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men. For the former, he was nominated for an Academy Award.
Jones has been a spokesperson for Japanese brewing company Suntory since 2006. He can be seen in various Japanese TV commercials of Suntory's Coffee brand Boss as a character called "Alien Jones," an extraterrestrial who takes the form of a human being to check on the world of humans. There are 21 such commercials that can be seen on YouTube.
In 2010, Jones appeared alongside Ben Affleck in the recession drama, The Company Men. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where early reviews praised Jones' performance as "pitch-perfect". On May 26, 2010, LeicesterSquareTV reported that, after weeks of speculation, Hayley Atwell confirmed that Jones has signed on for a role in the upcoming Marvel Studios' film, Captain America: The First Avenger. He also directed, produced, and co-starred with Samuel L. Jackson in an adaptation of The Sunset Limited.