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Creator / Jack Nicholson

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"I don't want people to know what I'm actually like. It's not good for an actor."

You want us to describe Jack Nicholson here? You want the TRUTH?!


But if you insist... If you want a candidate for the title of "best actor of all time", John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson (born April 22, 1937) is the man - though he's not so much an actor as a force of nature. He's also in the running for most Magnificent Bastard.

Nicholson has been nominated for Academy Awards twelve times. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice, for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and for As Good as It Gets. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Terms of Endearment. He is tied with Walter Brennan and Daniel Day-Lewis for most acting wins by a male actor (three), and second to Katharine Hepburn for most acting wins overall (four). He is also one of only two actors nominated for an Academy Award for acting (either lead or supporting) in every decade since the 1960s (the other being Michael Caine). He has won seven Golden Globe Awards, and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2001. In 2010 he was the very enthusiastic honorary starter for the Indianapolis 500. In 1994, he became one of the youngest actors to be awarded the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award. He is internationally renowned for his often dark-themed portrayals of neurotic characters, such as The Joker in the Tim Burton Batman movie and Randle McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Also known for keeping up his career, as he has to approve of the script personally to make the movie and thus often avoiding only doing his roles for the money. Also, because Nicholson is a MASSIVE Los Angeles Lakers fan, attending every home game, his shooting schedule has to revolve around the Lakers' schedule. However, he will still take a pretty big paycheck...

He was raised believing his mother was his sister and his grandmother was his mother because his real mother had sex with a man out of wedlock, and back then, being an unwed mom was considered taboo (even though everyone close to the Nicholson family knew about this, except for Jack). Both were long dead when he found out—in a conversation with a reporter from Time magazine about Chinatown. The irony has been noted on several occasions. For bonus points, he's said that his mother, as part of her cover, would sometimes call him a "son of a bitch."

Trope Namer of The Genie Knows Jack Nicholsonnote .

Jack Nicholson has appeared in many films, including:

His works provide examples of the following tropes:

  • Cheshire Cat Grin: His signature grin.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Quite often. Take a look at his almost literal scenery-chewing rat impression in The Departed.
  • Doing It for the Art: He not only accepted a minor role in Broadcast News for no money, but specifically requested that he not appear in the trailer, the opening credits, or any advertisements or promotions for the film because he did not want to take attention away from lead actors William Hurt, Albert Brooks and Holly Hunter.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: Considers his best performance and the favorite of all his films to be Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger which is far less famous than his more notable films.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: The difference between his interviews and his characters is...striking. The man was born to play insane, scary characters, but Jack himself is incredibly nice who can have a few emotional moments from time to time.
  • Misplaced Accent: Born in New Jersey, but his default voice (which he hardly ever alters for films) sounds a lot more Midwestern.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Why he played The Joker in Batman. He got paid a percentage of the profits and a share of the merchandising. That said, he did name this as one of his favourite roles.
  • Star-Making Role: Easy Rider earned Jack his first Oscar nomination, and Five Easy Pieces solidified him as a leading man, but his Oscar-winning role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest assured his place in movie history.
  • What Could Have Been: Shortly before his acting career took off, he tried to get hired at MGM's animation unit as a cleanup artist on Tom and Jerry. The unit closed less than a week after his job interview. MGM animators Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera then offered him an opportunity as an animator at their upcoming studio. He declined the offer to pursue his acting dreams, but remained good friends with the animation duo.