Jack Nicholson on Acting – ‘Being Jack’ – Part 1
Over the weekend I re-read an article in the New York Times by Dana Kennedy about Jack Nicholson and his views on acting and “being Jack.” The interview was done several years ago, but the content is as relevant today as it was then, and I wanted to share it with you because I believe it will speak to you on many levels.
‘JACK NICHOLSON’S house on Mulholland Drive sits high above Los Angeles on a mountain he calls ”Bad Boy Hill.” Marlon Brando and Warren Beatty are neighbors. Right now the house is silent, as if poised for its owner to come home and fill it with his unmistakable presence.
Suddenly the front door flies open and Mr. Nicholson strides in.
”Hey, baby, can you get me some coffee?”
He is talking to the housekeeper.
He walks into the living room, his hair askew, his bulky frame draped in a loud yellow-and-blue-striped shirt and khaki pants. He settles into an armchair facing a row of paintings by Picasso, Bonnard, Dufy, Magritte and Bacon and lights a cigarette. It’s the first of many Mr. Nicholson, 65, will smoke during a three-hour conversation about his life, his career and his new film, ”About Schmidt.”
The role may be the biggest stretch yet for Mr. Nicholson. A three-time Academy Award winner, he has specialized in scene-stealing eccentrics with more than a touch of lunacy, from the mental patient in ”One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” to the ax murderer in ”The Shining.” His public image, which Mr. Nicholson often refers to as ”being Jack,” has been equally flamboyant.
But Warren Schmidt is a colorless drone who never achieved the success he dreamed of; in contrast, Mr. Nicholson says that not a day goes by that he doesn’t marvel that he began life as a beautician’s son from Neptune, N.J.
NICHOLSON is most at home when talking about acting. He can look back at a career that began in 1958 when he made his feature film debut in a low-budget quickie, ”The Cry Baby Killer,” directed by Roger Corman, with the same enthusiasm that he has for his next movie, a comedy with Adam Sandler called ”Anger Management,” which comes out next year.
Mr. Nicholson, who moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles and started as an office boy in MGM’s animation department in the mid-1950’s, worked almost exclusively for Mr. Corman for more than a decade because it was the only acting work he could get.
Next week, I’ll give you the rest of the article, but wanted to give you first a sense of the man today and where’s he come from. Success didn’t just fall in his lap. He worked hard and took work where he could get it and eventually it paid off. Nice to know talent and persistence can win in the end.
By Lynette McNeill
Acting Coach & Director
Blog: Jack Nicholson on Acting – ‘Being Jack’ – Part 1
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