Jack Nicholson: the myth makes 80 years


Jack Nicholson turns 80 next April 22. Director, screenwriter, producer, but above all histrionic, eclectic and disruptive performer, Jack Nicholson, with his ability to transform a smile into an evil grin, is considered one of the most complete and memorable stars of the Hollywood scene and is the actor which holds the record of nominations to the Oscar Prize, 15, including 3 won.

  Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975) © AP Photo,

Best Actor Oscar for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975 © AP Photo

Starting tonight, April 4th, every Tuesday at 9.00pm, Universal Studio (Mediaset Premium DT) celebrates 80 years of Jack Nicholson, with four famous films and a Focus made by the Channel with an exclusive interview with Patrick McGilligan, his biographer.

"Easy Rider" with his friend Peter Fonda, in 1969 © Ansa

Easy Rider with friend Peter Fonda, in 1969 © Ansa

Let’s start with Easy Rider (1969) by Dennis Hopper (April 4th at 9.15 pm). The film represents the actor’s first major success thanks to the role of the alcoholic and drug addict lawyer who forces him to the attention of the public and critics and which earns him the first of a long series of nominations for theOscar. Neither The honor of the Prizzi (1985) by John Huston (April 11 at 9.15 pm), Jack Nicholson invents the most spectacular mafia killer in American cinema while embodying the devil himself in the satirical The Witches of Eastwick (1987) by George Miller (April 18th at 9.15pm). Finally in Ironweed (1987) together with Meryl Streep gives life to the alcoholic bum, in the Argentine’s Hollywood debut Ector Babenco (April 25th at 9.15 pm). The films in the review will be accompanied by an exclusive focus produced by the channel.

We retrace the stages of his career through some excerpts from the interview with his biographer Patrcik McGilligan aired on Universal Studio (Mediaset Premium DT).

Jack Nicholson, 1970 © AP Photo

Jack Nicholson, 1970 © AP Photo

McGilligan: “I say he is really the Bogart of our generation and I say he is a Bogart with tears because in many films he cries, shows his emotions, while Bogart is famous for not doing it. His work is so deep and his personality so remarkable… really for me he is our Bogart. “

Jack Nicholson was born in New Jersey on April 22, 1937 and the composition of his family is quite complex, so much so that Jack will only discover in adulthood from a journalist of the Time the truth about his origins: his sister June is actually his mother, who gave birth to him at the age of 16 after a brief relationship with the Italian-born showman Donald Furcillo, while the one who believed his mom Ethel is his grandmother.

  Jack Nicholson, New York City, 1974 © AP Photo

Jack Nicholson, New York City, 1974 © AP Photo

McGilligan: “He grew up with his grandmother pretending to be his mother and his mother pretending to be his sister, but actually Jack had a very, very happy childhood, because everyone loved him and treated him like the only boy in the world. home, since his father ran away and became an alcoholic. But he grew up in a very loving environment and it’s a beautiful image of America ”.

Easy Rider 1969

After high school, Jack pursues his dream of becoming an actor and moves to Hollywood, where he begins a long apprenticeship. His film debut dates back to 1958 with The Cry Baby Killer directed by Jus Addiss and his first memorable role is that of the eccentric attorney George Henson in Easy Rider by Dennis Hopper in 1969. His bizarre speech on the Venusians remains famous and allows him to obtain a nomination for theOscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Jack Nicholson on the film set "5 Easy Pieces 1990 © AP Photo

Jack Nicholson on the set of the movie 5 Easy Pieces 1970 © AP Photo


McGilligan: “He’s incredibly fascinating from the very first moment he appears in the film and the film needed a character like that. It carries its message and says what the other two characters cannot express: that America is losing its best personalities in various ways. He’s an incredibly hard-working actor who was ready for the impact with stardom. He seemed so loose in front of the camera that Fonda and Hopper, the film’s protagonists, eclipsed. He really created the film ”.

Five Easy Pieces 1970

After Easy Rider his career is launched suddenly and Jack Nicholson becomes one of the most sought after actors in Hollywood. The following years are a succession of nominations for the Oscar, thanks to movies like Five easy pieces from Bob Rafelson, The last corvè from Hal Ashby And Chinatown from Roman Polanski. It was in 1975 that Nicholson finally managed to snatch the Academy from the Oscar Prize as Best Leading Actor for his extraordinary performance as a psychiatric internship in One flew over the cuckoo’s nest from Milos Forman.

One flew over the cuckoo’s nest 1975

Mc Gilligan: “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest it’s a real collective cinematic feat, with a lot of improvisation during the acting by both Jack and all the other performers ”.

Shining 1980

In the early 1980s Nicholson plays unforgettable new roles, such as that of the psychopath Jack Torrance in Shining from Stanley Kubrick or the romantic role in Longing for tenderness from James L. Brooks, thanks to which he wins his second statuette in 1983 as Best Supporting Actor.

Longing for Tenderness 1983

Mc Gilligan: “He won for Longing for tenderness, playing the kind of character that no one would have imagined. He was romantic, sweet, kind, a kind of failure in love with Shirley MacLaine. A character without whom the film would have had much less humor and warmth ”.

In the following years Nicholson plays the role of the most disparate characters with talent and ease: the criminal in the grotesque caricature of the Italian-American mafia The honor of the Prizzi, in which he acts with his historical partner Anjelica Huston, directed by her father John; the madman Joker in the movie Batman from Tim Burton; the homeless in Ironweed from Hector Babenco and the diabolical Daryl ne The Witches of Eastwick from George Miller.

Batman 1989

In 1997 Jack Nicholson won the Oscar Prize, the second as a leading actor, for the interpretation of the moody writer in Something is changed, again directed by James L. Brooks.

Something changed 1997

Mc Gilligan: “Wins Best Actor for Something is changed, a very complicated, difficult film, a challenging comedy drama with him playing one of his most irascible and somehow unsympathetic roles and throughout the film he gradually tries to make us understand and appreciate him ”.

Nicholson’s success is unstoppable, but the news circulating about Jack isn’t just about his film career. Magazines and tabloids do not miss an opportunity, in fact, to report indiscretions on the actor’s unruly private and sentimental life.

The Departed 2006

Mc Gilligan: “It is not possible to calculate his mistresses, but in the end he became very sexually active with many girlfriends and more or less long relationships. Many of his longtime friends have started families, but Jack knows how to fill this hole with happiness, he knows what’s fun for him, whether it’s skiing or going to parties or traveling to Europe. Although he was still married and had children, that’s not the role he was born for, in real life or on screen… fatherhood, being a faithful husband, are not his own things ”.

The Witches of Eastwick Eastwick with Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer, 1987 © AP Photo

The Witches of Eastwick Eastwick: Cher, S. Sarandon and M. Pfeiffer, 1987 © AP Photo

The news that the public hopes to receive soon, however, is that of a return to the screens of Nicholson, after his last performance in the film. How do you know it from James L. Brooks of 2010. After all, Jack doesn’t seem to suffer from the ailments of his age at all …

© AP PHoto

© AP Photo

Mc Gilligan: “I love the anecdote of a woman who blocks him and Danny DeVito on the way to the golf course and says,” Oh Mr. Nicholson, we are so sorry for your memory problems, we love you and your films and we hope you feel better “. So Jack goes around her, recites a long Shakespeare monologue from memory and then tells her: “Madam, my brain is fine!” and goes off to play golf with Danny DeVito ”.


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