30 April 2010

Icons of our time - Jack Nicholson


When one actor is in several of the best movies ever made, you know he's cool, when one man is now older, balder and considerably podgier but still getting the ladies (half his age) you know he's cool, when someone who can terrify us as an author, make us laugh as a hoodlum, make us cry as a mentalist, and still look smart in a sailor hat and tache combo, you know he's cool.
With his trademark naughty grin and eyebrows in a world of their own, a non existent hairline, he is one of the most watchable and enjoyable actors of his generation, backed by the fact he's the most nominated male actor in the history of the Academy Awards.
John Joseph 'Jack' Nicholson born in New Jersey, April 1937. Actor, Director, Producer, basketball fan, ladies man, 'hell raiser'. Nicholson was brought up in a slightly broken home, with a cloudy knowledge of who his parents really were, the son of a Showgirl, it is believed his father could have been one of a few different men, but this uncertainty was never pursued by his own personal choice. It was alleged that in 1974 a journalist for Time Magazine who was doing a feature on him, had actually informed him of the fact his 'sister' was none other than his mother. He grew up believing his Grandparents were his actual Mother and Father.
Raised a Roman Catholic, Nicholson was the class clown in school. He was a keen artist and during his early Hollywood tenure - working as a go between for animation favourites William Hanna and Joseph Barbera at the MGM studios his artistic talents were noticed and he was offered a job, he declined in order to pursue a career in acting.
Nicholson made his film debut in a small independent teen drama The Cry Baby Killer (1958) playing the title role. Working with Producer Roger Corman, who also directed Nicholson on several occasions, he took a role in the original 1960 version of The Little Shop of Horrors.
Nicholson's acting work was not going as he had planned, and so he turned his attention behind the camera, he wrote the screenplay for the psychedelic drug fuelled The Trip (1967) which starred Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, who he would later work with again to bigger acclaim.
He also co-wrote and arranged the score to the Monkees cult feature film Head (1968) another psyched out film of it's time. Nicholson's big acting break came with Fonda and Hopper after nabbing a part in their huge cult film Easy Rider (1969). Nicholson's role was the fairly short, but memorable portrayal of drunken lawyer George Hanson with a penchant for Jack Daniels in the early hours of the day, he joins them on their road trip to New Orleans and is introduced to cannabis, but unfortunately meets his marker after a confrontation with some local hicks in a restaurant later ends in tragedy. Easy Rider paved the way for some very notable roles, with a Best Actor nomination for 1970's Five Easy Pieces.
Nicholson was soon awarded the Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his role as Billy 'Badass' Buddusky in Hal Ashby's 1973 comedy drama The Last Detail. Just a year later Nicholson was once again nominated for Best Actor in Roman Polanski's cult crime noir Chinatown.
A personal friend of Director Polanski, Nicholson started to sleep with a hammer under his pillow after the death of Polanski's wife Sharon Tate at the hands of the Californian oddball Manson family. Nicholson supported his friend during Manson's trial.
His acting career really came into fruition after nabbing the Best Actor Oscar for his excellent portrayal of Randal P McMurphy in the stunning One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest - based on the novel by Ken Kesey and brought to the screen by Miloš Forman, this is one of the greatest films out there in my humble opinion. Receiving the Best Supporting Actor in Terms of Endearment in 1980, another of Nicholson's most memorable roles came in the eerily psychological Stanley Kubrick horror The Shining, based on Stephen Kings novel. More nominations came in for other roles including A Few Good Men (1992) and Prizzi's Honor (1985) in what was a prolific period for the actor, not to mention highly lucrative after a cut of the box office takings from 1989's worldwide smash Batman saw him allegedly net a cool $60m. Nicholson collaborated with Actor/Director Sean Penn in The Crossing Guard (1995) and The Pledge (2001).
Nicholson once again took the Best Actor award for his role as OCD affected author Melvin Udall in As Good as it Gets (1997) . More recent cinema outings have included playing arguably against type in About Schmidt (2002) a return to a more sinister role as wiseguy Frank Costello in Martin Scorsese's The Departed (2006) and as a terminally ill 'buddy' movie alongside Morgan Freeman in Rob Reiner's The Bucket List (2007) . Always the sports fan you will never fail to spot him court side at at LA Lakers games as he is a die-hard supporter and a very animated one at that. Cross country Nicholson can often be seen enjoying baseball with the New York Yankees, Nicholson once told British chat show host 'Parky' that he was also a keen Manchester United fan, so you can add football, or soccer as he'd probably call it to his sporting interests too.
Nicholson lived on the notorious Mulholland Drive, Beverly Hills, his next door neighbour was none other than Marlon Brando and fellow thesp Warren Beatty also lived on the street, a street which earned the nickname 'Bad Boy Drive'. English Footballer turned actor Vinnie Jones lives there now.
Nicholson has four (possibly five) children, and over the years has been romantically linked to several models and actress's most notably Anjelica Huston and Lara Flynn Boyle of Twin Peaks fame. Nicholson votes Democrat and collects twentieth century contemporary art.
In 2008 Nicholson was inducted into his adopted home of California's Hall of Fame.

2 comments:

  1. The Postman...is one the best JN films, Jessica Lang is super fit in it and the chemistry between them is almost bursting through the screen.

    Top Post mate, nice one.

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