Appreciating all that makes America special

Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy Lee Jones, www.greatamericanthings.net

It’s not that Tommy Lee Jones has aged especially well, but with such character. Uploaded by kino.com.

Tommy Lee Jones has been an actor most of his adult life, and he even had some success in his younger years. He won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special for The Executioner’s Song in 1982, for example. But something happened when he reached middle age. His face got character. He had a gravitas he’d never experienced before. And his career took off.

Tommy Lee Jones, www.greatamericanthings.net

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When I think of Tommy Lee, I think of that slightly pained expression he wears when he’s suffering fools poorly. Like in The Fugitive, when he listened to the local police chief acting stupid. Or throughout Lonesome Dove and No Country for Old Men. He now embodies a masculine Texas persona, without resorting to swagger. He’s made it into the upper pantheon of great American actors. Here’s a summary of his important roles:

  • Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)
  • The Executioner’s Song (1982 – Emmy)
  • Lonesome Dove (1989 – Emmy Nomination)
  • JFK (1991 – Oscar Nomination)
  • The Fugitive (1993 – Oscar, Best Supporting Actor)
  • Men in Black (1997)
  • The Three Burials of Melquaides Estrada (2005 – Cannes, Best Actor)
  • No Country for Old Men (2007)
  • In the Valley of Elah (2007 – Oscar Nomination)

You probably know by now that he roomed with Al Gore at Harvard. I bet he didn’t call himself “Tommy Lee” while at school. I’ve made the conscious choice to hold neither his alma mater nor his roommate against him. He was too young to know better.

 

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