EXCLUSIVE: Hailee Steinfeld held her own among a cast of grizzled veterans in True Grit and earned an Oscar nod for it. Now she’s set to return to the frontier in The Homesman, opposite Tommy Lee Jones who is director, co-writer, producer and star on the period project. Steinfeld joins Meryl Streep, Hilary Swank, James Spader, John Lithgow, and Tim Blake Nelson in the pic, about a man (Jones) who teams up with a pioneer woman (Swank) to escort three insane women across the prairie back to civilization. The 16-year-old will play a poor, simple, and barefooted teenager named Tabitha Hutchinson. READ MORE »
This year’s most anticipated Tommy Lee Jones performance was expected to be in his long-awaited return to the Men In Black franchise, but that actually turned out to be his least interesting part. The reliable veteran star, who won his one and only Oscar nearly two decades ago for chasing Harrison Ford in The Fugitive, has enjoyed a year full of unexpected acting pleasures. After MIB3, he starred in a rare summer adult comedy opposite Meryl Streep and won praise in Hope Springs as a long-married man whose wife wants to add sexual sparks to their relationship. He could earn a Golden Globe nom for best actor in a comedy or musical for that film, plus a second supporting actor nom for his sensationally entertaining turn as Senator Thaddeus Stevens in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. That one has also brought him back as a frontrunner in the Oscar race, too. These are good times for Jones, who as usual is focused on the work and rather blasé about all the awards buzz.
Related: OSCARS: The Supporting Actor Race
AwardsLine: What appealed to you about playing Thaddeus Stevens?
Tommy Lee Jones: Steven (Spielberg) sent me the screenplay, asked if I would read it and consider the part of Thaddeus Stevens. I read the screenplay, loved it, and was fascinated with Stevens. I called him back and said, “This is a very fine undertaking, and it would be my good luck if I had a chance to work on it.”
Related: OSCARS: The Supporting Actress Race
“It has all been leading up to this night,” AFI CEO and President Bob Gazzale told me at the Hollywood Roosevelt pre-screening reception for the AFI Fest closing film, the official World Premiere of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. It was actually first presented in “unfinished” form at the New York Film Festival, a fact that didn’t bother Gazzale. “We ask the studios ‘how can we help you with your movie? We were thrilled to get it as our closing’,” he said and felt this was a very big deal. It made nice bookends for the festival that opened with Hitchcock and now was closing with Lincoln.
It was indeed a big deal with virtually the entire principal cast turning out. Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones as well as Spielberg, screenwriter Tony Kushner and most of the key crew were there. DreamWorks chief Stacey Snider, Participant’s Jim Berk and Jeff Skoll and Disney’s Bob Iger also attended, along with many others.
Spielberg was excited to see the long gestating project finally premiere at the Chinese Theatre. The film, which details Lincoln’s battle with Congress to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, is ironically relevant to today’s fractured Congressional fights and the director thinks the post-election timing is perfect, especially with looming debates about several hot button issues. “I didn’t want to see this released in front of the election or see it politicized”, Spielberg told me. “I think now it can almost be a kind of cleansing for the country”.
William Morris Endeavor today filed a petition to get Tommy Lee Jones to pay the $1.95 million in commissions the state Labor Commissioner recently ruled the No Country For Old Men actor owes the agency. WME’s filing today (read it here) with the California Superior Court arises out of the appeal the Oscar winner filed on October 10, with an amendment on October 19, against the Labor Commissioner’s October 1 ruling. WME says it can still push for its money now because Jones did not follow procedure. “A prevailing party in a Labor Commission proceeding may enforce an award where the opposing party has appealed the award but has failed to post the requisite bond,” WME’s action today noted. “To date, Jones has not posted a bond…Absent a satisfactory bond, an award issued by the Labor Commissioner is not stayed and may be confirmed by the Superior Court,” it added. Today’s petition requests a hearing date from the court for a ruling on its request.
The No Country For Old Men actor today filed an appeal (read it here) of the state Labor Commissioner’s recent ruling in favor of his former agency William Morris Endeavor. On October 1, the California State Labor Commissioner rejected Tommy Lee Jones’ request to bar the agency’s recovery of $1.95 million in commissions from his role as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell in the 2007 film. The recent ruling also said the agency did support the actor in his multi-million-dollar battle with Paramount over his NCFOM back-end compensation. Jones was awarded $15 million in that action. This case arises from WME seeking 10% of that award. The October 1 ruling also found that subsequent actions by WME did not prevent Jones from getting a role in the 2010 remake of True Grit (although the role eventually went to Jeff Bridges). “Everyone did their job here, including WME albeit with a few bumps along the way. And in the end, Jones received every dollar he was entitled to,” said the ruling from commissioner Julie A. Su. Jones first filed his petition in January 2010, with an amendment in February 2011.
Today Sony Pictures is doing the unthinkable. It is breaking, on a wide release of 2500+ screens, a dialogue-driven adult comedy/drama about the sex life (or lack of it) of a long-married couple both in their 60′s. And in the middle of August no less!
Sure it stars Meryl Streep, a bona fide box office draw even at her age, but it’s highly unusual and somewhat risky business to go this wide with a movie that is clearly aimed at the much older audience who is slow to show up no matter what the attraction. The studio is opening on a Wednesday in order to build some good word of mouth and reviews for its first weekend where it must face more typical summer flicks like Universal’s The Bourne Legacy and Warner Bros. The Campaign. Currently it stands at a decent 77% fresh for reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, a good sign for a movie that would seem like it would be more indie-oriented fodder than summertime major studio fare.
With the August release though Sony is also getting a jump on awards season as this cast includes such Oscar favorites as 17- time nominee and 3- time winner Streep (most recently in February for The Iron Lady) as well as Supporting Actor winner Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive), along with a deadpan Steve Carell as their couples therapist who counsels them at a week-long retreat on how to put the sexual spark back into their marriage. Of course Streep tends to get Oscar noms for just showing up on the set, while Jones was last nominated for Best Actor for 2007′s In The Valley Of Elah, a bit of a surprise then since his film was a boxoffice non-starter that had largely been written off at that point indicating the Academy likes him, they really like him. Both stars are getting strong reviews so far. Whether the strategy works at the boxoffice for this very Academy-friendly fare (official Los Angeles Academy member screening is Sunday night at the Goldwyn) remains to be seen but producers Todd Black and Guymon Casady told me they are just hoping the audience turns out, and happy they decided to go the studio route even though that wasn’t initially the plan.
Deadline told you back in March that Tommy Lee Jones was looking good to star as Meryl Streep’s husband in the David Frankel-directed Great Hope Springs, and now Mandate has confirmed it. Steve Carell also stars. It has shaped up as a strong cast and was one of the hot titles at the Cannes Film Festival market. Deadline revealed last Saturday that Sony Pictures took it off the table for North American distribution with a huge offer. Here is the official announcement:
Los Angeles, CA (May 19, 2011) – Tommy Lee Jones has closed a deal to star in GREAT HOPE SPRINGS, to be directed by David Frankel. The comedy also stars Meryl Streep and Steve Carell. Sony Pictures holds North American distribution rights to the film which will be released in the 4th quarter of 2012. The screenplay by Vanessa Taylor and featured on the prestigious Black List, follows a middle-aged couple who after thirty years of marriage attend an intense counseling weekend to examine the intimacy issues that are threatening their marriage.
LOS ANGELES, CA (May 5, 2011) – Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Hal Holbrook, James Spader, John Hawkes, Tim Blake Nelson, Bruce McGill and Joseph Cross are in negotiations to join the cast of DreamWorks Studios’ “Lincoln,” it was announced today by DreamWorks partners Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider.
Men in Black 3 is casting up. I’m told that Emma Thompson will be taking a lead role of Oh, the head of MIB. She’ll join Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin in the Barry Sonnenfeld-directed film for Sony Pictures Entertainment. She’s negotiating. Principal photography begins in mid-November.