Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A DIFFICULT TRUTH TO HANDLE:  Radar Online is reporting that Jack Nicholson quietly has decided to retire from acting, with diminished memory cited as a key factor. 

He is 76, the most-Oscar nominated male actor of all time (8 lead and 4 supporting across five decades, with two wins in the former and one in the latter), and if this is true then his last-minute-substituting-for-Bill-Murray role in James L. Brooks' How Do You Know (2010, and his fourth film with Brooks) will have been his last screen work. It's not, of course, the one we'll remember first, and as the 1994 AFI Tribute notes:
A rebel with an unquenchable spirit — both onscreen and off — Nicholson's roles have spanned all genres. His performances offer an impressive variety of experience, yet his artistry is consistent. He has had the courage to tackle offbeat, often unsympathetic, roles; but he invests each of his characters with humanity and intelligence.... 
Although most of his work shares themes of alienation, loyalty, and deception, he has experimented with a broad range of styles: somber, exuberant, pessimistic, and hallucinogenic. Whether dominating with his mach imprimatur, dazzling with his ironic grin, snarling with sarcasm, or offering himself up as a vulnerable sacrifice to a society he can't grasp, his presence is commanding 
Jack Nicholson possesses every quality we require of a movie star: personality, looks, charm. He is always uniquely "himself" — "Everything I do in the movies is autobiographical," he says — yet the actor merges seamlessly with the personality of whatever role he plays.


  1. Joseph Finn12:04 PM

    On the plus side, he avoided his last film being "The Bucket List," for which I think we can call be thankful.

  2. Jason Carlin12:15 PM

    I like to imagine Jack Nicholson and Gene Hackman, just sitting and fishing off a dock.

  3. Joseph Finn12:35 PM

    It seems really odd that the two of them have never done something together, unless my memory and a cursory IMDB search are wrong..

  4. Adam B.2:55 PM

    Both were in Reds, but not together IIRC.

    Also retired (officially or not, but they haven't done a film in at least a decade): Sean Connery, Warren Beatty.

  5. Beatty's just sitting around thinking, "That song IS about me, isn't it? I think is. Right?"

  6. Reds will always be one of my favorite of his performances. So quiet and controlled and so powerful. That scene with Keaton is amazing,

  7. Phil_Throckmorton9:09 PM

    For those (*cough* MANSQUADGER *cough*) who are interested in such things, Nicholson gives a great interview in the Roger Corman retrospective/biopick/thingie that came out a few years ago. On the one hand, he can't help joking that Corman could have made Easy Rider if he wasn't such a cheapskate. On the other hand, he winds up literally weeping with gratitude that Corman cast him in B movie after B movie for however many years so that he could eat while trying to make it in Hollywood.

  8. isaac_spaceman9:27 PM

    I haven't seen a Nicholson movie in years. I saw As Good as It Gets, I think -- the one with Helen Hunt, though all of the late-period Nicholson movie titles run together for me. Before that, I can't recall whether Batman or Witches of Eastwick came later. So while I have very strong attachments to some Nicholson work (especially Chinatown, which is a masterpiece), the truth or falsity of this rumor won't affect me.
    That said, and quite apart from the quality of his last decade of work, it would be a peculiar thing for anybody to begrudge a 76-year-old the right to devote all of his time (instead of just most of it, I guess) to the leisure of his choice.

  9. isaac_spaceman9:31 PM

    Connery I would have guessed. But Beatty surprised me. Bulworth doesn't seem like it was a dozen years ago.

  10. Wait, which is the one where he plays a crotchety old guy whose libido is still running strong? I saw that one.

  11. Bulworth was actually 15 years ago. His last movie was the execrable Town and Country, a comedy that took nearly 3 years to make but manages to be basically devoid of laughs. Unfortunate, but we can agree to pretend that Bulworth was his last film, just like we all agree that Royal Tenenbaums was Hackman's last film, erasing from existence Behind Enemy Lines, Welcome to Mooseport, and Runaway Jury.