John Joseph “Jack” Nicholson (born April 22, 1937) is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is renowned for his often dark-themed portrayals of neurotic characters. Nicholson has been nominated for Academy Award 12 times and won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice, for One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and for As Good As It Gets, and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 1983 film Terms Of Endearment. He is tied with Walter Brennan for most acting wins by a male actor (three), and second to Katharine Hepburn for most acting wins overall (four).
Well, I was introduced to Jack Nicholson when I was about ten or so, due to my older sister’s fanatism towards him. I believe the first Nicholson movie I watched was The Shining, although I wasn’t able to enjoy it very much at the time. Then, I think, came Something’s Gotta Give, a terribly adorable romantic comedy with Diane Keaton, which I did like. Anyway, the point is that this man intrigued me, I mean, imagine a girl of that age watching “some nutty guy” trying to kill his wife and son with an ax or any of the disturbing events that take place in The Overlook Hotel, that definitely has to call your attention or stick inside your head. Somehow, over the three years that have passed since I was ten, I became more interested in him and developed a strong liking for Jack Nicholson, seeing most of his films. Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Chinatown, The Passenger, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, The Shining, Reds, Terms Of Endearment, Prizzi’s Honor, Batman, The Two Jakes, As Good As It Gets, Anger Management, Something’s Gotta Give and The Departed. Honestly, I wasn’t crazy about each one of them, but whether they were good or bad or simply enjoyable, you always have Jack to make it better and less painfull. I’ve heard people say he’s nasty, he’s fat, he’s old, he’s stupid, and other amount of irrelevant things, but, hypothetically, what if all these things were true? He’s this absolutely amazing actor, he’s won several awards, and he’s also the personification of coolness! So, it really wouldn’t matter. My personal favourite would have to be Chinatown, I just love that one, I do. Anyhow, to start the “Profile of the Week” series, here’s Jack!
“I’ve always sort of liked that there were two of me -the person people think I am and the person I actually am.”
“There’s an element of my father in Jack. I’ve never been attracted to weak men. They [Jack and director John Huston] are both generous, they’re both honorable. The most attractive thing about Jack is his humor. And the fact that he’s never boring. My father has never been boring either”
“If you get an impulse in a scene, no matter how wrong it seems, follow the impulse. It might be something and if it ain’t – take two!”
“So I mean it when I say that if you can’t appreciate Brando, I wouldn’t know how to talk to you. If there’s anything obvious in life, this is it. Other actors don’t go around discussing who is the best actor in the world, because it’s obvious – Marlon Brando is.”
“Antonioni says he just tries to make something beautiful because truth is beautiful and beauty is truth. That’s what I’m really into. I like making beautiful things. Maybe that sounds ridiculous but when I choose a film to do, it’s because it interests me in that way rather than any other. I look at every character I play on the screen as being completely separate. You can say most of them are outsiders, but it’s hard today to think of any character in a film who isn’t an outsider. All I ask is that they relate to the truth in some way.”
“I’d prefer if people had no impressions of me. As a kid, I had to tell my own family, “Please, just don’t talk about me!” Because they always got it wrong. Always. I just didn’t want them to tell anyone anything about me. God knew, they had a great opinion and they loved me and meant well, but it was like, please, you don’t have this right. You know what I mean?”
“I’m an actor who, they said, was wrinkled and balding and everything else when I was in my early 30’s. Most of the people who wrote that, who thought they were younger than me are now bald and wrinkled.”
“We were at the Beverly Hills Hotel where he always shoots. I wanted a classic look and he really loves the whole 1940s/50s, so we made him up to look like a gangster. You can’t go wrong with someone like Jack; he’s so charming and enigmatic and has no insecurities.” -Photographer Lorenzo Agius.
“What bothers me about my acting? Well, I don’t like my smile and sometimes I get into too much physical business. But the biggest difficulty right now is that I’m in too many pictures. People complain that they see too much Nicholson. So in Cuckoo’s Nest I’ve developed a new technique. I pull my hat over my eyes, turn my back to the camera—and disappear within the very movie I am making!”
“I prefer the company of women. I’m buzzed by the female mystique. I always tell you young men, there are three rules: they hate us, we hate them; they’re stronger, they’re smarter; and most important, they don’t play fair.”
“Star quality is if you’re on stage and a cat walks on and they still watch you.”
“I would be so happy if I didn’t smoke, for a lot of reasons. I can’t believe that I can’t break the habit. I don’t want to be lying around, dying in Cedar’s Sinai Hospital and thinking that I was as stupid enough, a man who is as petrified of dying as I am, to have done it to myself. I’m a real fraidy-cat about mortality.”
“[On Stanley Kubrick] Just because you’re a perfectionist doesn’t mean you’re perfect.”
“I’m very contra my constituency in terms of abortion because I’m positively against it. I don’t have the right to any other view. My only emotion is gratitude, literally, for my life.”
“There’s a period just before you start a movie when you start thinking, I don’t know what in the world I’m going to do. It’s free-floating anxiety. In my case, though, this is over by lunch the first day of shooting.”
“My motto is: more good times.”
“I was particularly proud of my performance as the Joker. I considered it a piece of pop art.”
“You only lie to two people in your life: your girlfriend and the police.”
“When I come up against a director who has a concept that I don’t agree with, or maybe I just haven’t thought of it or whatever, I’d be more prone to go with them than my own because I want to be out of control as an actor, I want them to have the control, otherwise it’s going to become predictably my work, and that’s not fun.”
“ The first time I was up for an Oscar, I thought I would win it. But I didn’t have as sharp a view as I do now. The second time…I expected to lose, and deservedly lose, to George C. Scott. But even getting a nomination blows my mind. I’d love to win but now that I’ve had several good performances that people at large have liked, it becomes harder to excite them. And familiarity breeds contempt”.