Tommy Lee Jones Writing & Directing ‘The Cowboys’ Remake

Published 2 years ago by

tommy lee jones in large three burials of melquides estrada Tommy Lee Jones Writing & Directing The Cowboys Remake

Once upon a time, the western genre dominated the box office, comparable to the way comic book movies do today. While the genre hasn’t died out completely, big studio westerns need to be remakes (True Grit3:10 To Yuma), updates of a classic property which the public has all but forgotten about (The Lone Ranger), have another genre grafted onto it (Cowboys & Aliens), or have Quentin Tarantino’s name on it (Django Unchained).

Of those titles mentioned above, the Coen brothers’ True Grit was perhaps the greatest critical success, which is ironic given that the original film, (which starred John Wayne in his first and only Oscar-winning role), is considered a classic of the genre. Now come reports that Tommy Lee Jones will write and direct a Warner Bros. remake of another Wayne western, 1972′s The Cowboys.

The plot follows rancher Wil Andersen, who has to recruit a crew of boys to help him drive his herd of cattle to sale when none of the local men will join him. They have to contend with a gang of cattle thieves – led by Bruce Dern (Big Love) – who are following them along the way. It is not known at this point if Jones will also star.

Tommy Lee Jones and westerns go way back – he stars as a claim jumper  who helps escort a group of insane women from Nebraska to Iowa in most recent directing effort The Homesman; his 2005 film The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada was a modern-day western revenge tale, and his directorial debut was a TV movie western, The Good Old Boys. 

john wayne in the cowboys Tommy Lee Jones Writing & Directing The Cowboys Remake

Jones’ path to stardom really began with his role in the famous 1989 TV miniseries, Lonesome Dove and he impressed as a tracker in Ron Howard’s The Missing and as a Texas sheriff in the Coen Brothers’ modern-day Cormac McCarthy western-noir, No Country For Old Men. He seems to really come alive these days in historical roles, like his firebrand abolitionist congressman in Lincoln, and while he’s always a solid presence, he appears to almost resent appearing in blockbusters like Captain America or Men In Black 3.

John Wayne’s name is even more synonymous with westerns than Clint Eastwood’s, having starred in more than 80 of them. While well-regarded, The Cowboys is not exactly a beloved classic on the level of True Grit or Rio Bravo, although it is notable for being one of the very few Wayne films in which his character dies at the end. 

So if Jones is going to remake a John Wayne film, he’s smart to avoid the iconic classics, although the outraged fanbase of such things is not as big or vocal as some other genres. My dad hated the True Grit remake, though… so Jones might still need to be careful.


There is currently not release date available for Jones’ remake of The Cowboysbut stay tuned for more information as it becomes available. The Homesman is currently in post-production.

Source: Variety

Follow Anthony Vieira on Twitter @malaclyptic
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  1. My favorite role of Tommy’s is Woodrow Call in Lonesome Dove.
    As a big fan of the big guy Wayne I welcome Tommy tackling this.

    The Cowboys is somewhat overlooked but contains a great performance
    by The Duke himself and I expect Tommy to deliver as actor and director.

  2. Personally, I think The Cowboys is one of Wayne’s best movies of all time. Excellent story, characters and also starred a very young Robert Carridine. Roscoe Lee Brown’s Mr. Nightlinger is a classice role as well. Not to mention that the Cowboy’s was scored by none other than John Williams.

    I will be watching very eagerly to see how this movie develops.

  3. Tommy Lee Jones makes me a little less worried. But, The Cowboys is still my favorite John Wayne movie, not sure how well I feel about this.

    I’ll give it a chance though, considering how much I loved the remake of True Grit. The thing wih The Cowboys was that there was never much I thought needed to be improved. I just hope they don’t change the story TOO much, specifically the final act which I always thought was outstanding.

  4. I expect this to go the route of True Grit
    and essentially do a new take on the novel.

  5. John Wayne’s “Big Jake” is a film that is ripe for a remake as either a period Western or a modern day update. It is the story of a wealthy, yet emotionally distant patriarch that is forced to join forces with his sons to track down his grandson and the boy’s kidnappers.

    The original is dated in spots, but a very solid premise for an action flick that would appeal to today’s audiences.

    • I agree firmly on that one………..

  6. Tommy Lee is a man, a creative human being and a worthy actor… finally something and a someone worth mentioning!

  7. Than again, it’s a remake… screw ‘em!

    • Good luck to you in your pursuit, Barton.

  8. Id like to see a remake of Hell fighters set in the middle east The iconic scene of JW stood on the back of the plane with all his equipment wow But who to play the part

  9. This is another classic movie so Im not sure a remake is absoultely necessary, but if anyone could pull it off it would be Tommy Lee Jones. The True Grit one was horrible, except for the young girl. Like to see Robert Duvall in the lead.

  10. Mr Jones is 40 years my senior but I have been following his work for years. Talented visual artist! I would swoon harder but he is taken (hangs head). :-(

  11. Please how can I get An audition for Tommy”Tuffy” Gessling
    In the remake of the Cowboys !!! Email me at the above address

  12. Jones is an OK actor, but I think he should stay away from a Wayne remake. But with that said I thought True Grit was going to be a P.O.S. & went to the show with that in mind. When I came out I thought it was not bad & well made, but still John Wayne will ALWAYS be Rooster Cogburn. I love westerns (if they’re done right) & unlike westerns in Wayne’s day modern films have a better look to them with the dirty sets & even dirtier people (ala, Deadwood).

  13. Really, leave my movies alone, and while we’re at it quit twisting my 80′s music for your darn tv shows too!