John Joseph Nicholson (born April 22, 1937) is an American actor and filmmaker who has performed for over sixty years. He is known for playing a wide range of starring or supporting roles, including satirical comedy, romance, and dark portrayals of anti-heroes and villainous characters. In many of his films, he has played the “eternal outsider, the sardonic drifter”, someone who rebels against the social structure.
His most known and celebrated films include the road drama Easy Rider (1969); the dramas Five Easy Pieces (1970) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975); the comedy-dramas The Last Detail (1973), Terms of Endearment (1983), As Good as It Gets (1997), About Schmidt (2002), and The Bucket List (2007); the neo-noir mystery Chinatown (1974); the horror film The Shining (1980); the biopic Reds (1981); the fantasy comedy The Witches of Eastwick (1987); the superhero film Batman (1989) as the Joker; the legal drama A Few Good Men (1992); the romantic horror film Wolf (1994); the science fiction comedy Mars Attacks! (1996); the comedy Anger Management (2003); the romantic comedy Something’s Gotta Give (2003); and the crime drama The Departed (2006). Nicholson has not acted in a film since How Do You Know in 2010, but does not consider himself to be retired. He has also directed three films, including The Two Jakes (1990), the sequel to Chinatown.
Nicholson’s 12 Academy Award nominations make him the most nominated male actor in the Academy’s history. Nicholson has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice – one for the drama One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), and the other for the romantic comedy As Good as It Gets (1997). He also won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the comedy-drama Terms of Endearment (1983). Nicholson is one of three male actors to win three Academy Awards. Nicholson is one of only two actors to be nominated for an Academy Award for acting in every decade from the 1960s to the 2000s; the other is Michael Caine. He has won six Golden Globe Awards, and received the Kennedy Center Honor in 2001. In 1994, at 57, he became one of the youngest actors to be awarded the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award.
He has had a number of high-profile relationships, most notably with Anjelica Huston and Rebecca Broussard, and was married to Sandra Knight from 1962 until their divorce in 1968. Nicholson has five children – one with Knight, two with Broussard (including Lorraine Nicholson), and one each with Susan Anspach and Winnie Hollman.
Actually the first time l saw Jack Nicholsan in a film was in the 1963 The Terror, but the first time l started to take notice of him as an actor was with the film One Flew Over The Cuckoo Nest 1975 followed by his performance in The Shining 1980. As an actor, l really like his works – these are my top fifteen favourites, what are yours?
The Terror 1963
Lt. Duvalier (Jack Nicholson), a French soldier, loses contact with his unit and is forced to wander alone near the Baltic Sea. While in search of his regiment, he spies Helene (Sandra Knight), a mysterious beauty, walking by herself. Mesmerized, Duvalier begins tracking her, but she vanishes. He later catches up with her and follows her into a castle, where he encounters the bizarre Baron Von Leppe (Boris Karloff), finds signs of witchcraft and learns the shocking truth about Helene.
1 – Easy Rider – 1969
Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper), two Harley-riding hippies, complete a drug deal in Southern California and decide to travel cross-country in search of spiritual truth. On their journey, they experience bigotry and hatred from the inhabitants of small-town America and also meet with other travelers seeking alternative lifestyles. After a terrifying drug experience in New Orleans, the two travelers wonder if they will ever find a way to live peacefully in America.
2 – One Flew Over The Cuckoo Nest – 1975
When Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) gets transferred for evaluation from a prison farm to a mental institution, he assumes it will be a less restrictive environment. But the martinet Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) runs the psychiatric ward with an iron fist, keeping her patients cowed through abuse, medication and sessions of electroconvulsive therapy. The battle of wills between the rebellious McMurphy and the inflexible Ratched soon affects all the ward’s patients.
3 – Carnal Knowledge – 1971
Nice guy Sandy (Art Garfunkel) and charming schemer Jonathan (Jack Nicholson) meet as college roommates in the late 1940s. Sandy woos and eventually marries the sweetly virginal Susan (Candice Bergen) without knowing that she had cheated on him with Jonathan. Years later, his marriage faltering, Sandy attempts to mimic Jonathan’s promiscuous womanizing, while the misogynistic Jonathan finally tries his hand at monogamy with the gorgeous but emotionally needy Bobbie (Ann-Margret).
4 – The Last Detail – 1973
When sailor Larry Meadows (Randy Quaid) is sentenced to eight years in a New Hampshire prison, Navy lifers Billy Buddusky (Jack Nicholson) and Mule Mulhall (Otis Young) are assigned to escort him there from Virginia. Along the way, they warm up to their prisoner, indulging him in small ways such as making excursions to a brothel, and to his mother’s house. As they get closer to their destination, their fondness for Larry makes it harder for them to execute their orders.
5 – Chinatown – 1974
When Los Angeles private eye J.J. “Jake” Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is hired by Evelyn Mulwray to investigate her husband’s activities, he believes it’s a routine infidelity case. Jake’s investigation soon becomes anything but routine when he meets the real Mrs. Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) and realizes he was hired by an imposter. Mr. Mulwray’s sudden death sets Gittes on a tangled trail of corruption, deceit and sinister family secrets as Evelyn’s father (John Huston) becomes a suspect in the case.
6 – The Shining – 1980
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer’s block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and his son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), who is plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack’s writing goes nowhere and Danny’s visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel’s dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.
7 – The Postman Always Rings Twice – 1981
Itinerant troublemaker Frank Chambers (Jack Nicholson) has a meal at a roadside restaurant and meets devastating femme fatale Cora Papadakis (Jessica Lange). As it turns out, Cora is married to the restaurant’s owner, Nick (John Colicos). Happy to have a visitor, Papadakis offers Chambers a job. Chambers stays on and begins to help himself to whatever he likes — including Cora. The two dive headlong into a torrid romance and begin to plot the perfect murder.
8 – Reds – 1981
American journalist John Reed (Warren Beatty) journeys to Russia to document the Boleshevik Revolution and returns a revolutionary. His fervor for left-wing politics leads him to Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton), then married, who will become a feminist icon and activist. Politics at home become more complicated as the rift grows between reality and Reed’s ideals. Bryant takes up with a cynical playwright (Jack Nicholson), and Reed returns to Russia, where his health declines.
9 – The Witches of Eastwick – 1987
Three small-town friends, Alexandra (Cher), Jane (Susan Sarandon) and Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer), each having lost the man in their lives, are feeling unfulfilled — until a furtive stranger, Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson), arrives and begins courting each of them in turn. Eventually, Daryl tells them that they are witches. But as the three friends spend more time at his mansion, enjoying themselves and learning about their powers, they begin to worry about Daryl’s ultimate intentions.
10 – Batman – 1989
Having witnessed his parents’ brutal murder as a child, millionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) fights crime in Gotham City disguised as Batman, a costumed hero who strikes fear into the hearts of villains. But when a deformed madman who calls himself “The Joker” (Jack Nicholson) seizes control of Gotham’s criminal underworld, Batman must face his most ruthless nemesis ever while protecting both his identity and his love interest, reporter Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger).
11 – A Few Good Men – 1992
Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) is a military lawyer defending two U.S. Marines charged with killing a fellow Marine at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Although Kaffee is known for seeking plea bargains, a fellow lawyer, Lt. Cdr. JoAnne Galloway (Demi Moore), convinces him that the accused marines were most likely carrying out an order from a commanding officer. Kaffee takes a risk by calling Col. Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson) to the stand in an effort to uncover the conspiracy.
11 – Wolf – 1994
After being bitten by a wolf in rural Vermont, aging book editor Will Randall (Jack Nicholson) finds himself full of youthful vigor. Randall then discovers that he’s been fired and replaced by Stewart Swinton (James Spader), a vicious young executive. As Randall struggles to regain his position, he becomes enthralled with Laura Alden (Michelle Pfeiffer), his former boss’s daughter. And, as increasingly animal-like urges begin to overwhelm him, Randall worries that he may be a werewolf.
12 – As Good as it Gets – 1997
Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) is an obsessive-compulsive writer of romantic fiction who’s rude to everyone he meets, including his gay neighbor Simon (Greg Kinnear), but when he has to look after Simon’s dog, he begins to soften and, if still not completely over his problems, finds he can conduct a relationship with the only waitress (Helen Hunt) at the local diner who’ll serve him.
13 – About Schmidt – 2002
Warren Schmidt, a quiet ex-insurance actuary, is unhappily married to Helen and brooding over the forthcoming wedding of his daughter Jeannie to Randall Hertzel. When Helen suddenly dies and he finds love letters to her from his best friend, he is inspired to try and stop the wedding, but standing in his way is Randall’s feisty mother, and slowly, he realises he must make the most of his remaining life.
14 – Something’s Gotta Give – 2003
When aging womanizer Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson) and his young girlfriend, Marin (Amanda Peet), arrive at her family’s beach house in the Hamptons, they find that her mother, dramatist Erica Barry (Diane Keaton), also plans to stay for the weekend. Erica is scandalized by the relationship and Harry’s sexist ways. But when Harry has a heart attack, and a doctor (Keanu Reeves) prescribes bed rest at the Barry home, he finds himself falling for Erica — who, for once, may be out of his league.
15 -The Bucket List – 2007
Billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and car mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) are complete strangers, until fate lands them in the same hospital room. The men find they have two things in common: a need to come to terms with who they are and what they have done with their lives, and a desire to complete a list of things they want to see and do before they die. Against their doctor’s advice, the men leave the hospital and set out on the adventure of a lifetime.
So there we go folks, my top 15. What are yours?