Interviews


Jack Nicholson


Occupation: Actor, Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Date of Birth: April 22, 1937
Place of Birth: New York City, N.Y., USA
Sign: Sun in Taurus, Moon in Libra
Relations: First wife: Sandra Knight; ex-longtime companion: Anjelica Huston; former companion: Rebecca Broussard; current companion: Lara Flynn Boyle; kids: Jennifer, Lorraine, Raymond
Education: Attended Manasquan High School in New Jersey

 

AFTER a decade of roles in second-rate horror and motorcycle movies (mainly helmed by fringe director Roger Corman), Jack Nicholson's ship came in when Rip Torn shipped out of Easy Rider in 1969. He made the most of his small part and earned the first of many Oscar nominations; he then made screen history in the offbeat Five Easy Pieces diner scene a year later. From then on, more nominations and acclaim accumulated for brilliant characterizations in Carnal Knowledge, The Last Detail, and Chinatown, among others.

By the time he won the Oscar, in 1975, for a tour de force portrayal in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Nicholson was solidly established as Hollywood's hottest and most versatile star. He added a Supporting Actor statue to his mantle in 1983 for his aging astronaut in Terms of Endearment, which was his only win out of a string of nominations for off-beat, anti-hero roles in Reds, Prizzi's Honor, and Ironweed. As Batman's Joker, he added no less than $50 million to his till in pay and merchandising profits. Stints in the director's chair were less successful: Goin' South and The Two Jakes were genuine disasters. But audiences never complained. On a first-name basis with their favorite devil, the public is willing to forgive freak accidents like Man Trouble, the actor's own women troubles, and the golf club incident, especially when he continues to deliver towering performances in films such as A Few Good Men, which earned him yet another Supporting Actor nomination. In fact, Nicholson's portrayals are always strong, even when the films he inhabits are anything but: his dual role--as an oily U.S. president and an equally unctuous Las Vegas slimeball--in Mars Attacks!, Tim Burton's cheeky alien-invasion spoof, delighted audiences if not critics; and though The Evening Star, the entirely unnecessary sequel to 1983's Terms of Endearment, was difficult to stomach, his essentially pointless cameo provided a much-needed moment of blessed relief. But the following year, Nicholson mesmerized critics and audiences alike with his Golden Globe- and Oscar-winning performance as an obsessive-compulsive New York novelist in director James L. Brooks's As Good As It Gets, proving yet again his peerless talent for making an excessively detestable character likable.

Nicholson's private life mirrors his nonconformist roles. His sister turned out to be his mother and his mother his granny, a fact that a Time magazine researcher discovered while preparing a cover story on him. A four-year marriage to actress Sandra Knight and a seventeen-year relationship with Anjelica Huston didn't disrupt indulgences in a roster of recreational drugs and romances with starlets, models, Michelle Phillips, and his daughter's best friend. When the latter (Rebecca Broussard) became pregnant in 1990, Huston finally turned in her house key. Nicholson embraced late-life fatherhood by settling the new family in front of a hearth in a separate house on his grounds.

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