Tommy Lee Jones was born in Texas, attended a prestigious prep school for boys in Dallas, went to Harvard, where he graduated cum laude and even roomed with future US Vice President Al Gore. After college, Jones moved to The Big Apple where he began his theatrical career on Broadway. He made his film debut in the 1970 romantic drama Love Story and hasn’t stopped since. He also appeared as Dr. Mark Toland on the ABC daytime drama One Life to Live, from 1971-75, which was an experience Jones looks fondly upon. Known for playing hard, no-nonsense characters, yet with the successful Men In Black movie franchise, Jones has shown his talent for comedy with his deadpan delivery opposite the always humorous Will Smith. In honor of his 67th birthday today, here is the Top 10 Tommy Lee Jones movies.
10. Men in Black 3: – Though Jones wasn’t in this 2012 third installment of the wildly popular sci-fi comedy movie franchise much, for the time he did interact with co-star Will Smith, he made an impact. Jones amped up his character, Agent Kay’s secretive nature relating to alien supervillain Boris the Animal and moviegoers saw just what made the character into the sullen, not often emotional character we grew to love. This installment ranked slightly higher in poignancy than humor than its predecessors but Jones still gave a knock-out performance.
9. JFK: – This 1991 political thriller, which was directed by Oliver Stone, examined the events leading up to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Kevin Costner played former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison, who filed charges against Jones’ character, New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw, for his alleged involvement in the conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy. The film was adapted by Stone and Zachary Sklar from the books On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison and Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy by Jim Marrs. Jones played a reserved man accused of being a part of the biggest cover-up in American history to a tee. Though it was a small part, Jones infused it with his signature brooding expressions, which made the role even more believable.
8. The Client: – This 1994 crime thriller based on the John Grisham’s novel of the same name had Jones co-staring opposite the incomparable Susan Sarandon. Jones played Roy Foltrigg, a self-important US Attorney, who attempted to solve the suicide of a mob lawyer only to further his own ambitions. Sarandon played Reggie Love, a recovering alcoholic attorney, who defended the boy who witnessed the suicide. Jones and Sarandon sparred back and forth and with each encounter, reminded moviegoers why both were and still are such well-loved and respected celebrities. Jones, while playing an underhanded character, did so with finesse and style as audiences were riveted by this pulse-pounding thriller.
7. Blown Away: – In this 1994 action thriller Jones played Ryan Gaerity, an Irish terrorist, who broke out of prison and swore vengeance against ex-friend, Boston police bomb squad member Lt. Jimmy Dove, played by Jeff Bridges, who was responsible for his imprisonment. Non-stop explosions filled this movie as Jones played a chilling villain out for revenge. The action never ends as Jones delivered an unsettling portrayal of a psychotic madman.
6. No Country for Old Men: – This 2007 neo-Western thriller, set in 1980s Texas, was written and directed by the Coen brothers. Jones played Texas sheriff Ed Tom Bell, beleaguered by violence and on the trail of a hitman and a satchel full of cash. The movie was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture and premiered in competition at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. Jones’ stoic performance as a tired lawman looking to leave a life of violence was riveting and won rave reviews.
5. Batman Forever: – Jones played the demented baddie Two-Face in this 1995 action adventure flick. Produced by Tim Burton, Jones mixed full-blown insanity with a dash of wit to make an unforgettable villain. Two-Face’s scenes with fellow villain, The Riddler, played to perfection by Jim Carrey, were filled with creepy yet strangely entertaining evil antics, which made Jones’ performance even better.
4. Double Jeopardy: – In this 1999 crime thriller, Jones played a parole officer Travis Lehman. Co-starring with Ashley Judd and Bruce Greenwood, Jones’ Lehman began to believe Libby Parsons, played by Judd, who was convicted of murdering her husband (Greenwood) was really innocent. Though it received negative reviews, IMO, Jones and Judd made a great action pair as Judd maneuvered through many sticky situations and Jones kept up with her every step of the way!
3. The Fugitive: – In this 1993 action crime thriller based on the 1960s television series of the same name, Jones played Deputy Samuel Gerard, a cop in search of Dr. Richard Kimble, played by Harrison Ford, who was convicted of murdering his wife but claimed a one-armed man was the real killer. Jones’ intense acting style made Gerard’s relentless chase of Kimble that much more believable. Jones also gave Gerard an underlying sensitivity as his detective work led him to the truth of Kimble’s innocence. The movie was nominated for several Academy Awards that year with Jones ultimately winning the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his performance.
2. Men in Black II: – Jones returned as Agent Kay in this hit 2002 sequel to the popular movie franchise. In this installment, Will Smith’s Agent Jay must restore Agent Kay’s memory to save Earth. Jones and Smith proved yet again what a phenomenal comedic duo they made as Jones played it straight against Smith’s more fun-loving Agent Jay. Co-starring Lara Flynn Boyle as the sexy alien hellbent on destroying Earth in order to achieve her goal, Jones infused Agent Kay with subtle humor that made his portrayal even more humorous.
1. Men in Black: – The one that started it all! This 1997 sci-fi comedy had everything, weird looking aliens, off-the-hook special effects and… Jones? Moviegoers discovered Jones’ penchant for comedy as he played Agent Kay, a member of a secret government organization that monitored alien life on Earth. He recruited Smith’s character, who became Agent Jay and they worked together to save the Earth from an insect-like alien. Jones and Smith meshed seamlessly and created a comedic duo like no other. Here’s hoping for a Men in Black 4!