No Money for Old Men: Tommy Lee Jones sues studio for $10m

As sheriff Ed Tom Bell, he risked death in the fight for justice, pursuing Javier Bardem's psychotic murderer across the desolate and lawless landscape of west Texas. Now Tommy Lee Jones is taking his love for the letter of the law a step further – albeit for more self-serving reasons.

The veteran actor is suing the makers of No Country For Old Men for $10m (£5.7m), which he claims he is owed for his role in last year's award-winning crime thriller.

The film, about a botched drug deal and its brutal repercussions, was adapted from a Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name. Directed and co-produced by the brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, it was a critical and box-office hit, earning more than $160m and going on to win three Baftas, two Golden Globes and four Oscars, including best picture, best director and best supporting actor for Bardem.

Jones has filed his lawsuit in Bexar County, San Antonio. NM Classics Inc, a Dutch subsidiary of Paramount Pictures, is also named in the action, according to The San Antonio Express-News. Jones, who won his only Oscar for his role alongside Harrison Ford in 1993's The Fugitive, claims that he has not been paid the bonuses he was promised and his initial fee for appearing in the movie was unjustly reduced. He also claims that a contract was given to him despite the fact it contained several inaccuracies.

The 61-year-old says he signed a contract with NM Classics on 3 April 2006, agreeing to act in the film and to provide "additional related services" for promoting the movie. In return, the legal papers allege, the company agreed that it would pay Jones a fixed "upfront" fee and, depending on its success, "significant box-office bonuses and 'back-end' compensation". The vagueness of those promises has returned to haunt the actor. His lawyers claim he was promised "significant" bonuses to compensate him for his reduced fee.

No Country For Old Men was a co-production between Paramount Pictures and Miramax Films, with Paramount largely controlling the film's release and distribution outside the US. Jones demanded that he, the Coens and the film's producer, Scott Rudin, should be entitled to the same treatment and equal shares of the box-office spoils.

But the lawsuit claims that in December 2007, barely a month after the film was released in America, Paramount executives told Jones his contract contained a "mistake" related to "a major issue involving the deduction for home video expenses". It also alleges that on 10 January this year, Paramount officials approached Jones again, this time with information about a second major "mistake" in his contract.

The veteran A-lister, whose career has been reinvigorated after a few years in the wilderness, says his "deception" at the hands of Paramount amounts to fraud.

A central plank of his legal action is a claim that Paramount invited him to sign his contract while fully aware of the flaws it contained.

Jones, born in San Saba, Texas, has lived in the Lone Star State for most of his adult life and is today based in the San Antonio suburb of Terrell Hills. He made his first screen appearance in 1968, when he was 22, in the long-running television soap opera One Life To Live. Revered throughout his long Hollywood career, Jones earned a cult following for his performances alongside Val Kilmer in Batman Forever (1995) and Will Smith in Men In Black (1997).

His memorable introduction of Al Gore, a former college roommate, at the Democratic National Convention in 2000, when Mr Gore was running against Jones's fellow Texan George Bush, endeared him to many of Hollywood's liberal elite.

Jones has not yet commented publicly about the case. He has asked that an auditor be named to review the film's financial records and determine exactly how much compensation he should be paid. His publicist, Jennifer Allen, said: "The paperwork stands for itself."

Stars and their lawsuits

Lawyers and accountants have increasingly been employed by Hollywood's box-office talents in disputes over profit-sharing contracts with studios. Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, sued a subsidiary of Time Warner, saying he had been underpaid by up to $100m (£57m). The case threatened his involvement in the film of The Hobbit, but it was eventually settled. David Duchovny, co-star on The X-Files, sued 20th Century Fox for $25m after it sold re-runs to a sister company and some of its TV stations allegedly at below market value, cutting the share he should have received. Alan Alda also sued Fox, over profit participation in M*A*S*H. The cases were settled out of court. All three were represented by the lawyer Stanton Stein.

Ian Johnston

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935