From Gary Marcus, Marietta, GA:
In a recent article [review of "In the Valley of Elah"], you said that you "don't know Tommy Lee Jones at all". I do... or did... and maybe I can help. He was in my High School class of 75 students at St. Marks School of Texas, Class of '65, in Dallas Texas. I sat behind him in "home room." Back then he was Tom Jones, but he had to use his real (full) name when he became an actor, because the singer had already claimed the "Tom Jones" name, and, no doubt, some other aspiring actor had already registered as Tommy Jones..
What you see on screen is what he is ... odd and interesting. He has always been old ... and a man of very few words. His face has been -- since before High School -- severely pock-marked, which probably affected his introverted personality. His voice has always been deep and measured. He has very controversial ideas about "this sorry planet", and probably found that talking too much brought disapproval.
The only time I ever saw him really act, was when he played a gay man in the film about JFK. That character didn't have act of his personal traits. In all other films, he does not act, he just puts himself in the characters position in Life, and then does what he would do, and projects his own unusually serious personality into the action. I hope this helps in your assessment of this unusual man.