Howdy folks, I'm Tommy Lee Jones. You probably know me as an actor. (Remember me in The Fugitive? I was good in that. Won me an Oscar, it did.) Today, though, I speak to you not only as an actor but as a director and a human being. I'd like to talk to you for a moment about immigration.
Now, I feel very strongly about the immigration issue. Immigrants have a very tough time making it in America, even more so if they are illegal Mexicans. There's a lot of hatred directed towards Mexican immigrants these days, and I don't think that's right. Mexican immigrants do a lot of things for us, and they do a lot of crummy jobs to help this economy run. That's why I've made a movie about it. It's called The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.
In this movie, I play a ranchhand who befriends the title character, a Mexican cowboy who's come to America looking for work. One day, he's shot and killed by a racist border patrol cop, so in the best traditions of the Western I have to take my revenge. This, of course, involves a great many scenes where I beat the snot out of the border patrolman. I feel that including all these scenes gets my point across very forcefully.
What's more, I've been blessed in that my conviction to the immigrant issue attracted the attention of screenwriter Guillermo Arriga. He's the guy who wrote that movie 21 Grams, and he's Mexican, so how lucky am I that he wrote me a screenplay about the plight of the Mexican immigrant? I mean, truth be told, it's not Arriga's best work. When I was reading it, I thought that it was kinda heavy-handed and obvious, and Arriga's use of irony was, I dunno, a bit laughable. Also, it wasn't really clear to me why the script was non-chronological, other than Arriga likes writing that way. But darn it, it was about an immigrant, and I felt that I could get my message to the world with this film.
I've also been lucky with casting in my journey to make this film. When word got out that I was making a film about the immigrant issue, a lot of talented people offered to help me out. I couldn't cast 'em all, but I got a few of 'em in there. Dwight Yoakam was a no-brainer, being that this film would be a Western and all. Melissa Leo was great too, since she was willing to do the nude scenes. What I was real happy with, though, was getting Barry Pepper to play the border patrolman. He's a talented young actor with a bright future, and there's nobody in Hollywood I'd rather spend half a film beating up.