Tommy Lee Jones turns 71 on Friday: Here are 5 ways to celebrate

Tommy Lee Jones turns 71 on Friday. He’s probably not going to have a party. If there were to be a party, you would not be invited.

Don’t take it personally. 

The taciturn Texan has spent decades developing a reputation as a man who isn’t interested in pretending he cares about what the media wants. What the public wants. What anyone wants.

“I don’t care!” wasn’t just a line from his Oscar-winning role in “The Fugitive.” It was a mission statement.

Read this 2006 interview from Texas Monthly and parse the words: Snappish. Blunt. Unblinking. Combative. Unsmiling. Disgust. Dismissive. 

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But if he’s a hard man to like, he’s still pretty damn good when the cameras are rolling. And we can celebrate Tommy Lee Jones, whether he likes it or not.

Here are 5 things you can do to honor Jones’ 71st birthday

5. Watch “The Fugitive”

His Oscar-winning role (supporting actor) is one of his best, though some critics said he did stand toe-to-toe with Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln.” According to, when Richard Kimble shouted “I didn’t kill my wife!” Jones’ character — U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard — was supposed to reply “That’s not my problem.” Jones wanted it changed and the end result was an iconic scene.

4. Watch “Escape From New York”

Studio executives wanted Jones to play Snake Plissken in the 1981 movie. Kurt Russell got the part. It’s hard to imagine Jones in the part, but it doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

3. Read a book

Jones — who famously was roommates with former Vice President Al Gore at Harvard — has a degree in English literature. His senior thesis at Harvard was “the mechanics of Catholicism” in the works of Flannery O’Connor. He’s a big fan of English poet T.S. Eliot. But says he owns the movie rights to Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian,” which is a good place to start. 

Tommy Lee Jones, director and star of the film "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" , left, and Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States, pose for photographers at the film's premiere Monday Dec. 12, 2005 in New York. (TINA FINEBERG/AP)

2. Go visit San Saba

Buy some pecans. Drive over the Regency Suspension Bridge. Get shod at Harry’s Boots. Have a drink at Wedding Oak Winery. Go see the San Saba Armadillos high school football team play (actually, they’re at Johnson City on Friday night). Just don’t expect to go visit Jones. This is on the gate to his ranch …

Photo of the entrance to Tommy Lee Jones Ranch in San Saba. (Rayc)

1. Watch “Lonesome Dove”

Oh, I guess you could see some of his other Westerns. “The Missing,” “The Homesman,” “ The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” .. even TV movie “The Good Old Boys.” But, you know, this is Texas and “Lonesome Dove” will forever be atop this list. Woodrow Call is a hard man to beat.

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