Jack Nicholson on Acting – ‘Being Jack’ – Part 2
Here is Part 2 of Jack Nicholson on Acting!
Jack Nicholson on Acting and “Being Jack” Part 2
Last week I gave you the first part of an article that was in the New York Times by Dana Kennedy about Jack Nicholson and his views on acting, and as he puts it, “being Jack.” This is part two of that article. I hope you enjoy it!
By the time Mr. Nicholson was cast in ”Easy Rider” he had almost given up hope of making it out of B movies.
”I hadn’t dropped the pose of 10 to 12 years of failure,” he says. ”Like: ‘You can use me or not. I can tell you my credits. I can charm you. But really, I’m the best actor there is in my age group.’ This was the kind of form that I would get myself into when I would get those occasional interviews for jobs. False confidence, but you have to believe a certain amount of it.”
Once Mr. Nicholson achieved stardom, however, he says, he was better equipped to handle it because of his long struggle. He saw his chance to build on his newfound prestige with ”Five Easy Pieces” in 1970.
”I wanted to do a smashing follow-up to ‘Easy Rider’ and hammer that nail in,” he says. ”I wanted to get even more distance from being somebody who had some kind of demand for their services versus somebody who is running crazy to try and keep up.”
Since then, Mr. Nicholson has not wanted for work, or the kind of roles most actors would kill for.
”There are stars who have made bigger pictures,” says his friend of 40 years, the producer Robert Evans, ”but there’s no one who is as known around the world as he is, who still connects with teenagers. Every kid knows him. Jack stands alone. He’s an original. He’s not playing anybody. That’s who he is.”
In 1997, Mr. Nicholson was so convinced he was giving a bad performance as a curmudgeonly novelist in ”As Good as It Gets” that he offered his close friend, the director James Brooks (who had also directed him in his Academy Award-winning performance in ”Terms of Endearment”), the opportunity to replace him.
”I didn’t feel I was satisfying what he was after,” says Mr. Nicholson, who went on to win his third Oscar for the film. ”We were having a lot of trouble with a scene. Jim is a tough bird and I like those kinds of people. It was one of the toughest movies he and I will ever do.”
Mr. Nicholson says he became the character of Warren Schmidt in much the same way he prepares for all his roles.
”What I have always done is not necessarily have to act but become the physicality of the person,” he says. ”For Schmidt I thought, what would I have been like if I had lived this sedentary kind of life. And I got into it enough to where I really didn’t like it.
”I’d like to not care that much about criticism, but I do care about it,” he says. ”So that’s always at stake. There’s a real chance I could embarrass myself in this picture I just did with Adam because it’s out of my comfort zone. I almost did it again to challenge that convention, to put myself somewhere where they can say, ‘Jeez, he’s overacting again.’ Which I am, but damn, that’s why I’m good!”
It’s inspiring to read how Jack Nicholson started as an office boy at MGM, felt stuck in “B” movies, and went on to become a legend and win 3 Academy Awards and all the while “being Jack.”
It really does come down to commitment, talent, and staying true to the course regardless of any obstacles or criticism.
By Lynette McNeill
Acting Coach & Director
Blog: Jack Nicholson on Acting – ‘Being Jack’ – Part 2
Source: New York Times by Dana Kennedy
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