I first watched Jack Nicholson in the film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and vividly remember being instantly struck by his boyish and slightly naughty charms. He is one of those people who can convey so much emotion and feeling with just one raised eyebrow, not to mention the wicked gleam in his eyes.
Over the years, I have watched him in awe in so many different roles. Sadly frustrated in “Terms of Endearment” with Shirley Maclaine and the comical devil in “Witches of Eastwick.” He played the maniacal hotel caretaker in “The Shining and the grumpy obsessive-compulsive writer in “As Good as it Gets.”
The other day I watched him in “The Bucket List” with Morgan Freeman. Old and not as attractive these days, but the charm was still there if you looked hard enough.
Jack was fascinated by the actor Marlon Brando, watching the film “On the Waterfront” over forty times, studying the method acting style Brando professed to have invented. This surely had an impact on Jack’s development as an actor. If proof were needed, and certainly not by me, Jack has 12 Academy Nominations to his name.
I don’t know much about his personal life, although I suspected it hadn’t been a rose garden. I have since learned that his life almost mirrored my own. No father on the scene, Nicholson was his mother’s name. His ‘sister,’ who was in fact, his Irish mother, brought him up. Regarded as the class clown in High School, he had detention every day for a year. And one failed marriage, yet several children by other women.
He has said that he attributes his eccentricity to being born on the cusp, the point where two star signs meet, on April 22nd, 1937. They say this gives you the characteristics of both astrological signs, and I think the mixture of Aries and Taurus would indeed produce someone like Jack Nicholson.
He is 80 this year, just a few years older than I am. I wonder how he is faring in his old age, for he looks lonely sometimes. Is he still searching for that special someone, or has he resigned himself to remain alone. Like myself, he has been branded ‘difficult to live with,’ but maybe we would have got along just fine…
“Nicholson is the Hollywood celebrity who is most like a character in some ongoing novel of our times. He is also the most beloved of stars—not even his huge wealth, his reckless aging, and the public disasters of his private life can detract from this…For he is still a touchstone, someone we value for the way he helps us see ourselves.” David Thomson, film critic.