Personal detailsName: Tommy Lee Jones
Born: 15 September 1946 (Age: 68)
Where: San Saba, Texas, USA
Awards: Won 1 Oscar, 1 Golden Globe; nominated for 3 BAFTAs
All about this star
In building a picture of Tommy Lee Jones, it's interesting to compare him to others born in the same year. Like Dolly Parton, he's a down-home country-type, but with a similar wild streak to David Lynch's. Onscreen, he possesses the same outlandish charisma as Alan Rickman. Off-screen, his passion and artistic tunnel-vision have caused him problems with his peers, much like Syd Barrett. But then that year also saw the arrival of Ted Bundy and Ian Lavender, so go figure.
Perhaps it's more revealing to compare him with Oliver Stone. Both are challenging and controversial in their work, both have risen from rough, macho beginnings to the heights of Hollywood (a system in which they excel yet somehow do not fit), and both have peculiar and uncompromising views of how things should be done. And strangely, considering they have so many similarities and have worked together so many times, Stone and Jones were born on exactly the same day - the 15th of September, 1946.
Tommy's birthplace was San Saba, Texas, about 80 miles north-west of Austin. He's an 8th generation Texan, though he's one quarter Cherokee, with Welsh ancestry. His father, Clyde C. Jones (he had no middle name, just the C), raised cattle until a drought in the early 1950s drove the Jones family west to Midland, close to the New Mexico border, a town slap bang in the middle of nowhere. Here Clyde would work the oil fields. Tommy's mother, Lucille Marie (nee Scott, known as Marie), was a policewoman, the county's first female officer, and a hairdresser, later owning a beauty parlour. She'd borne another child, a son, when Tommy was 3, but the child sadly died in infancy.
Tommy's early life was tough. Clyde was a drinker and Tommy's described his relationship with him as "combative and emotionally abusive. He wasn't there for me that much". Clyde and Marie would divorce when Tommy was still young, then remarry and divorce again. Outside the home life could be tough, too. "It wasn't unusual," Jones would later recall "to settle one's conflicts with physical violence. If you got into an argument you settled it very quickly".
Disturbed by his turbulent home-life, Tommy threw himself into both studies and sport. At Alamo Junior High, in Midland, he was a fine student and a keen football player, and these qualities won him, at age 13, a scholarship to St Mark's School of Texas, a prestigious prep school for boys, in Dallas. He'd take the scholarship even though his father had scored a job in Libya and would be moving the family there. St Mark's was a whole new world for young Tom, filled with rich kids with no experience of the trailer life he'd known. Very quickly, he'd have to learn to be a gentleman.