An illustration of the tight-lipped Mr. Jones

Meriah Doty
Movie TalkNovember 15, 2012

This is perhaps not as well known to the public, but Tommy Lee Jones has a reputation that precedes him among members of the media for being difficult. When Yahoo! Movies sat down with him just days ago, he was forthcoming in some areas of the interview and not so much in others.

Indeed, like his character Thaddeus Stevens in "Lincoln," Jones is known to be grumpy.

"Jones makes little attempt to hide his contempt for interviews and those who conduct them," Scott Tobias of the A.V. Club has observed. "Everyone warned me about Tommy Lee Jones," wrote Will Harris of, who interviewed him last year. writer Terry Morrow reported on his first Jones experience: "He can be an intimidating figure. He's tall. His eyes tend to wander slightly in that crazy Paula Abdul kind of way. He has unusually big hands. And he likes to shrug his shoulders and quasi-bark his answers even to the gentle questions." Morrow then indicated he was glad to have survived the experience. And then there's Paul Fischer's observations of Jones, from "Tommy Lee Jones has often showed a visible disdain for the press. Now doing the rounds for 'Men in Black 2,' Jones is coolly cordial, shaking hands and responding simply."

[Related: Amid Oscar buzz for his 'Lincoln' role, Tommy Lee Jones sheds light on Thaddeus Stevens]

These are excerpts from our interview transcript that illustrate those questions that Mr. Jones simply didn't want to answer:

Meriah Doty: Seeing Thaddeus Stevens' biographical information compared with yours. There's some similarity.

Tommy Lee Jones: No, there isn't.

MD: [You went to] Harvard. [He went to] Dartmouth.

TLJ: There's a difference.

MD: Yeah. There is. But you two didn't exactly grow up with a silver spoon in your mouth and you both got into ivy league universities. I'm just curious. Did you relate to him on any level personally?

TLJ: No.


MD: You've worked with so many great directors and Steven Spielberg is no exception.  What do you look for in a director?

TLJ: I don't know how to answer that. A paycheck. Beyond that I don't look for anything, but I feel more comfortable if I know they're thoroughly prepared.


MD: What are your thoughts on the fact that there's Oscar buzz around your performance?

TLJ: I don't have any thoughts on that subject.

"Lincoln" opens nationwide Friday.

[Related: See showtimes for 'Lincoln']

Watch Daniel Day-Lewis and Steven Spielberg discuss 'Lincoln':

'Lincoln' Q&A: Finding the Voice 'Lincoln' Q&A: The Role of Fear

Watch the 'Lincoln' Theatrical Trailer:

'Lincoln' Theatrical Trailer
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