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Even when he’s starring in a futuristic movie like Men in Black 3, you can just tell that Tommy Lee Jones wants to step out of that time period and hop back on the range. Historical dramas and westerns seem to be where Jones feels most at home. And Warner Bros. is more than happy to go there with him, as Variety reports they have signed on to develop Jones’ remake of Mark Rydell’s 1972 film The Cowboys, which starred none other than John Wayne. Those are some pretty big boots to fill, and we don’t even know who is going to be filling them.
Jones will be writing the screenplay himself as well as directing, with Donald De Line stepping in as producer. There is no word yet on whether Jones will be starring in the film or not, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he joined in. If there’s anybody who could rival Wayne’s powerful on-screen presence, Jones is a sure fit - as was Jeff Bridges in the Coens’ remake of True Grit.
In the original, Wayne played Wil Anderson, a rancher whose cattle drivers all leave him behind in search for gold. He takes on a group of young boys to help him get his cattle herd to market so that he doesn’t end up screwed out of a bunch of money. Not only does he have to worry about turning a bunch of ragtag boys into men, they’re also being followed by a group of thieves. I’m certain the stakes will be upped for this remake, lest it turn into Bad News Bears Go Cattle Ranching.
Jones is currently in post-production on his latest directorial effort, the drama The Homesman, in which he plays a claim jumper who assists in helping a pioneer woman escort three crazy women across part of the country. He previously directed and starred in the 2005 western The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and the 1995 western The Good Old Boys. It seems strange the only other film he’s directed was a 2011 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s play The Sunset Limited, which took place largely in an apartment during modern times.
Having also previously wowed audiences in both the miniseries Lonesome Dove and Ron Howard’s The Missing, Jones spent part of last year in two different historical films: Peter Webber’s WWII drama and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. He’ll soon be seen in Luc Besson’s non-historical action comedy The Family, which comes out next weekend and co-stars Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer.
While I’m not sure what it is about this story that Jones feels needs to be updated, I have no reason not to look forward to it. Take a peek at the original film’s trailer below, and marvel at how ridiculously long and involved it is.