Oscar-winning actor Tommy Lee Jones is batting two for two. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, the first feature he directed, was invited to be part of the competition at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. Nearly a decade later, Jones is back with his second directorial effort, The Homesman, which again has scored a coveted competition slot. Screening May 18, it stars Jones as a rascally claim jumper who teams up with a pious spinster (Hilary Swank) to drive a wagonload of women driven mad by the harshness of life on the frontier back East and deliver them into the care of a minister’s wife (Meryl Streep). Born in Texas, where Jones still lives outside San Antonio, the laconic actor always has played his cards close to the vest, but he did offer The Hollywood Reporter a few, sometimes curt, words about his new film, about directing, and about returning to Cannes.
How did you go about casting? First of all, choosing Hilary Swank to play the main female character.
Hilary is perfect casting, and that was clear from the first moment I met her. I was very happy that she was willing to take on the job. The other girls, we just looked and we found them.