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'Men in Black' writer Ed Solomon shares story of Tommy Lee Jones's brutal on-set script edit

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
·2-min read
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones aiming their weapons towards the sky in a scene from the film 'Men In Black', 1997. (Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones aiming their weapons towards the sky in a scene from the film 'Men In Black', 1997. (Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)

The screenwriter behind Men in Black has revealed that Tommy Lee Jones took a pen to his script on set, removing a lengthy speech — and improving the scene.

Ed Solomon, who also co-wrote the Bill and Ted trilogy with Chris Matheson, said on Twitter that he spent a week writing a three-paragraph speech for the character.

Read more: Jim Carrey reveals Tommy Lee Jones did not like him

Jones, who played the experienced Agent K in the movie, then crossed out the dialogue in front of the writer.

Solomon said: “Then he conveyed the entire speech with a single glance. And it was better.”

The first entry in the Men in Black trilogy, released in 1997 and directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, follows the arrival of Will Smith’s newbie Agent J into the titular organisation.

The film was a box office success, bringing in $589m (£443m) worldwide.

Despite its success, Solomon has regularly shared his profit statements for the movie, declaring it to still be in the red — by virtue of “creative accounting” in Hollywood.

Read more: Men in Black/Jump Street cross-over no longer happening

Men in Black was followed by two sequels in 2002 and 2012, with Josh Brolin joining the cast for the latter movie as the younger incarnation of Jones’s character.

A 2019 reboot of the franchise starring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, entitled Men in Black: International, attracted negative reviews and proved to be a financial disappointment.

Watch: Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson talk about creating Bill & Ted

Given the disappointment of the reboot, it seems unlikely that the Men in Black franchise will return in the near future, but both Smith and Jones have indicated they might be willing to have another go.

Read more: Will Smith regrets making Men in Black sequel

Jones told CNN in 2012 that he would be keen to step into the snappy suit and shades of Agent K again if the idea was a good one.

He said: “It is easy to pick up where we left off. We know what we are doing, we know how to do it. It's just a hell of a lot of fun."

Presumably, he’d also like to reserve his right to take a red biro to the script.

Watch: Chris Hemsworth discusses Will Smith charisma in Men in Black