John Joseph Nicholson|
April 22, 1937
Neptune City, New Jersey, United States
|Residence||Hollywood Hills, California|
|Alma mater||Actors Studio|
|Home town||Neptune City, New Jersey|
|Spouse||Sandra Knight (1962–1968)|
|Children||5, including Lorraine Nicholson|
John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson (born April 22, 1937) is an American actor and filmmaker. Throughout his career, Nicholson has portrayed unique and challenging roles, many of which include dark portrayals of excitable, neurotic and psychopathic characters. Nicholson's 12 Academy Award nominations make him the most nominated male actor in the Academy's history.
Nicholson has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice, one for the drama One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and the other for the romantic comedy As Good as It Gets (1997). He also won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the comedy-drama Terms of Endearment (1983). Nicholson is tied with Walter Brennan and Sir Daniel Day-Lewis as one of three male actors to win three Academy Awards. In 1988 Nicholson won a Grammy Award for Best Album for Children for The Elephant's Child. He is well known for playing Frank Costello in the Martin Scorsese-directed crime drama The Departed (2006), Jack Torrance in the Stanley Kubrick–directed psychological horror film The Shining and the Joker in Batman (1989).
Nicholson is one of only two actors to be nominated for an Academy Award for acting in every decade from the 1960s to the 2000s; the other was Michael Caine. He has won six Golden Globe Awards, and received the Kennedy Center Honor in 2001. In 1994, he became one of the youngest actors to be awarded the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award. Other notable films in which he has starred include the road movie Easy Rider (1969), the drama Five Easy Pieces (1970), the comedy-drama film The Last Detail (1973), the neo-noir mystery film Chinatown (1974), the drama The Passenger (1975), the epic film Reds (1981), the romantic horror film Wolf (1994), the legal drama A Few Good Men (1992), the Sean Penn-directed mystery film The Pledge (2001), and the comedy-drama About Schmidt (2002).
Career[edit | edit source]
Early work[edit | edit source]
When Nicholson first came to Hollywood, he worked as a gofer for animation legends William Hanna and Joseph Barbera at the MGM cartoon studio. Seeing his talent as an artist, they offered Nicholson a starting level position as an animation artist. However, citing his desire to become an actor, he declined.
He made his film debut in a low-budget teen drama The Cry Baby Killer, in 1958, playing the title role. For the following decade, Nicholson was a frequent collaborator with the film's producer, Roger Corman. Corman directed Nicholson on several occasions, most notably in The Little Shop of Horrors, as masochistic dental patient and undertaker Wilbur Force, and also in The Raven, The Terror, and The St. Valentine's Day Massacre. He worked frequently with director Monte Hellman as well on low-budget westerns, though two in particular, Ride in the Whirlwind and The Shooting, initially failed to find interest from any US film distributors but gained cult success on the art house circuit in France and were later sold to television. Nicholson also appeared in two episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, one as Marvin Jenkins, a townsman falsely accused of stealing merchandise from a local hardware store in the episode titled "Aunt Bee, the Juror". He also played Mr. Garland, a father who with his wife, left a baby on the courthouse steps in the episode entitled, "Opie and the Baby".
Rise to fame[edit | edit source]
With his acting career heading nowhere, Nicholson seemed resigned to a career behind the camera as a writer/director. His first real taste of writing success was the screenplay for the 1967 counterculture film The Trip (directed by Corman), which starred Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. Nicholson also co-wrote, with Bob Rafelson, the movie Head, which starred The Monkees. In addition, he also arranged the movie's soundtrack. However, after a spot opened up in Fonda and Hopper's Easy Rider, it led to his first big acting break. Nicholson played hard-drinking lawyer George Hanson, for which he received his first Oscar nomination. The part of Hanson was a lucky break for Nicholson—the role had in fact been written for actor Rip Torn, who was a close friend of screen writer Terry Southern, but Torn withdrew from the project after a bitter argument with the film's director and co-star Dennis Hopper, during which the two men almost came to blows. In interview, Nicholson later acknowledged the importance of being cast in Easy Rider: "All I could see in the early films, before Easy Rider, was this desperate young actor trying to vault out of the screen and create a movie career." Nicholson was cast by Stanley Kubrick, who was impressed with his role in Easy Rider, in the part of Napoleon in a film about his life, and although production on the film commenced, the project fizzled out, partly due to a change in ownership at MGM and other issues.
A Best Actor nomination came the following year for his persona-defining role in Five Easy Pieces (1970). Also that year, he appeared in the movie adaptation of On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, although most of his performance was left on the cutting room floor. He was the first choice to play the role of Father Damien Karras in The Exorcist, but the role was turned over to Jason Miller.
Other Nicholson roles included Hal Ashby's The Last Detail (1973), for which he was awarded the Prix d'interprétation masculine at the Cannes Film Festival, and the Roman Polanski noir thriller, Chinatown (1974). Nicholson was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for both films. Nicholson was friends with the director long before the death of Polanski's wife, Sharon Tate, at the hands of the Manson Family, and supported him in the days following the deaths. After Tate's death, Nicholson began sleeping with a hammer under his pillow, and took breaks from work to attend the Manson trial. It was at Nicholson's home where the rape for which Polanski was convicted occurred. Nicholson would go on to star in The Who's Tommy (1975), directed by Ken Russell, and Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger (1975).
Nicholson earned his first Best Actor Oscar for portraying Randle P. McMurphy in the movie adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, directed by Miloš Forman in 1975. His Oscar was matched when Louise Fletcher received the Best Actress Award for her portrayal of Nurse Ratched. After this, he began to take more unusual roles. He took a small role in The Last Tycoon, opposite Robert De Niro. He took a less sympathetic role in Arthur Penn's western The Missouri Breaks, specifically to work with Marlon Brando. He followed this by making his second directorial effort with the western comedy Goin' South.
Although he garnered no Academy Award for Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining (1980), it remains one of his more significant roles. His second Oscar, the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, came for his role of retired astronaut Garrett Breedlove in Terms of Endearment (1983), directed by James L. Brooks. Nicholson continued to work prolifically in the 1980s, starring in such films as The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), Reds (1981), Prizzi's Honor (1985), The Witches of Eastwick (1987), Broadcast News (1987), and Ironweed (1987). Three Oscar nominations also followed (Reds, Prizzi's Honor, and Ironweed).
Nicholson introduced several acts at Live Aid at the JFK Stadium in July 1985. He turned down the role of John Book in Witness. The 1989 Batman movie, wherein Nicholson played the psychotic murderer and villain, The Joker, was an international smash hit, and a lucrative percentage deal earned him a percentage of the box office gross estimated at $60 million to $90 million. For his role as hot-headed Col. Nathan R. Jessup in A Few Good Men (1992), a movie about a murder in a U.S. Marine Corps unit, Nicholson received yet another Academy nomination.
In 1996, Nicholson collaborated once more with Batman director Tim Burton on Mars Attacks!, pulling double duty as two contrasting characters, President James Dale and Las Vegas property developer Art Land. At first studio executives at Warner Bros. disliked the idea of killing off Nicholson's character, so Burton created two characters and killed them both off. Not all of Nicholson's performances have been well received. He was nominated for Razzie Awards as worst actor for Man Trouble (1992) and Hoffa (1992). However, Nicholson's performance in Hoffa also earned him a Golden Globe nomination.
Nicholson went on to win his next Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Melvin Udall, a mean-spirited, obsessive-compulsive, neurotic author in As Good as It Gets (1997), again directed by Brooks. His Oscar was matched with the Academy Award for Best Actress for Helen Hunt as a Manhattan waitress drawn into a love/hate friendship with Udall, a frequent diner in the restaurant in which she worked. In 2001, Nicholson was the first actor to receive the Stanislavsky Award at the 23rd Moscow International Film Festival for "conquering the heights of acting and faithfulness".
2002–present[edit | edit source]
In About Schmidt (2002), Nicholson portrayed a retired Omaha, Nebraska, actuary who questions his own life following his wife's death. His quietly restrained performance earned him an Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor. In Anger Management (2003), he played an aggressive therapist assigned to help an overly pacifist man (Adam Sandler). In 2003, Nicholson also starred in Something's Gotta Give, as an aging playboy who falls for the mother (Diane Keaton) of his young girlfriend. In late 2006, Nicholson marked his return to the dark side as Frank Costello, a sadistic Boston Irish Mob boss presiding over Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning The Departed, a remake of Andrew Lau's Infernal Affairs. The role earned Nicholson world-wide critical praise along with various award wins and nominations including a Golden Globe nomination for supporting actor.
In November 2006, Nicholson began filming his next project, Rob Reiner's The Bucket List, a role for which he shaved his head. The film starred Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as dying men who fulfill their list of goals. The film was released on December 25, 2007 (limited), and January 11, 2008 (wide). In researching the role, Nicholson visited a Los Angeles hospital to see how cancer patients coped with their illnesses. His last film role to date saw him reunite with Terms of Endearment and As Good as It Gets director James L. Brooks, for a supporting role as Paul Rudd's character's father in How Do You Know.
On September 4, 2013, reports spread around the internet from various sources claiming that Nicholson was retiring from acting due to memory loss, unable to remember the lines for his scripts. Hours later, an unidentified source informed NBC News that the rumors were false and that Nicholson was actively reading scripts and is looking forward to his next project.
On February 15, 2015, Nicholson made a special appearance as a presenter on SNL 40, the 40th anniversary special of Saturday Night Live.
In February 2017, it was reported that Nicholson would be starring in an English-language remake of Toni Erdmann opposite Kristen Wiig. It will be his first feature film role since 2010.
Filmography[edit | edit source]
|1958||The Cry Baby Killer||Jimmy Walker|
|1960||Too Soon to Love||Buddy|
|1960||The Wild Ride||Johnny Varron|
|1960||The Little Shop of Horrors||Wilbur Force|
|1960||Studs Lonigan||Weary Reilly|
|1962||The Broken Land||Will Brocious|
|1963||The Raven||Rexford Bedlo|
|1963||The Terror||Andre Duvalier|
|1964||Flight to Fury||Jay Wickham||Also writer|
|1964||Back Door to Hell||Burnett|
|1966||Ride in the Whirlwind||Wes||Television film; also writer, producer|
|1966||The Shooting||Billy Spear||Television film; also producer|
|1967||The St. Valentine's Day Massacre||Gino, Hit Man||Uncredited|
|1967||Hells Angels on Wheels||Poet|
|1969||Easy Rider||George Hanson|
|1970||On a Clear Day You Can See Forever||Tad Pringle|
|1970||The Rebel Rousers||Bunny|
|1970||Five Easy Pieces||Robert Eroica Dupea|
|1971||Carnal Knowledge||Jonathan Fuerst|
|1971||A Safe Place||Mitch|
|1971||Drive, He Said||Producer, writer, director|
|1972||The King of Marvin Gardens||David Staebler|
|1973||The Last Detail||Signalman 1st Class Billy L. "Badass" Buddusky|
|1974||Chinatown||J. J. "Jake" Gittes|
|1975||The Passenger||David Locke|
|1975||The Fortune||Oscar Sullivan aka Oscar Dix|
|1975||One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest||Randle Patrick "Mac" McMurphy|
|1976||The Missouri Breaks||Tom Logan|
|1976||The Last Tycoon||Brimmer|
|1978||Goin' South||Henry Lloyd Moon||Also director|
|1980||The Shining||Jack Torrance|
|1981||The Postman Always Rings Twice||Frank Chambers|
|1981||Ragtime||Pirate at beach||Uncredited|
|1982||The Border||Charlie Smith|
|1983||Terms of Endearment||Garrett Breedlove|
|1985||Prizzi's Honor||Charley Partanna|
|1987||The Witches of Eastwick||Daryl Van Horne|
|1987||Broadcast News||Bill Rorich|
|1989||Batman||Jack Napier / The Joker|
|1990||The Two Jakes||J. J. "Jake" Gittes||Also director and uncredited producer|
|1992||Man Trouble||Eugene Earl Axline / Harry Bliss|
|1992||A Few Good Men||Colonel Nathan R. Jessup|
|1992||Hoffa||James R. "Jimmy" Hoffa|
|1995||The Crossing Guard||Freddy Gale|
|1996||Blood and Wine||Alex Gates|
|1996||The Evening Star||Garrett Breedlove|
|1996||Mars Attacks!||President James Dale / Art Land|
|1997||As Good as It Gets||Melvin Udall|
|2001||The Pledge||Jerry Black|
|2002||About Schmidt||Warren R. Schmidt|
|2003||Anger Management||Dr. Buddy Rydell|
|2003||Something's Gotta Give||Harry Sanborn|
|2006||The Departed||Francis "Frank" Costello|
|2007||The Bucket List||Edward Cole|
|2010||I'm Still Here||Himself|
|2010||How Do You Know||Charles Madison|