Feature by: Jack Foley
ALL good things come to an end, and Im not much of
a raver anymore, announced Jack Nicholson, to a room full
of journalists at the launch of his latest movie, Somethings
Gotta Give, recently.
Yet while the wild parties and womanising antics may be drawing
to a close, there is no denying that Nicholson remains one of
the coolest customers around, a revered and respected veteran,
who has been responsible for some of the greatest films of all-time.
One only had to look at the number of journalists present for
this press conference, and the manner in which they greeted him,
to realise just how much esteem the press still holds for him.
And Nicholson, for his part, has lost none of the charm and enthusiasm
for what he does, despite such a long and distinguished career.
The release of Somethings Gotta Give does, however, present
an ideal opportunity for Nicholson to step out of the limelight,
particularly as art, for once, would seem to be imitating life.
The charismatic performer plays a hugely successful music executive,
with a reputation for dating younger women (usually under the
age of 30), who finds himself falling for an older woman for the
first time, following a Viagra-induced heart attack.
And he candidly admits that, I guess it's got some good
pieces about what my life has been like.
The film has mostly been well-received by critics on both sides
of the Atlantic, and US audiences, especially, flocked to see
it, despite its release amid the Christmas blockbusters of last
Nicholson is not surprised by the allure of the subject matter,
"It got something like 97% exit poll approval in America,
so some movies, as they say, you just can't keep people from going
to see them if they want to," he observed.
"It's a script that you read and it works, you know? And
I felt the same about this movie from the very beginning, that
pretty much we had to do this script, and get it out, and the
movie would work."
The movie also offered the chance for Nicholson to work with
Diane Keaton for the first time since they appeared together in
Reds, while also marking the first time he has worked for a woman
director, in the form of Nancy Meyers. But he didnt notice
that much difference in the movie-making process.
"I couldn't push her around as much," he laughed, before
adding: "Nancy's a very forceful director, so she has that
in common with most of the directors I've worked with.
"They [women] like to tart you up a bit more, you know,
and they're a little happier when you're cute, and stuff like
that. But she wrote the material and this is a movie which, as
I say, works from the script on, and she just makes you do the
script, so I didn't find it that different, actually."
Given the movies obvious parallels with Nicholsons
life, it is little wonder to find many of the questions attempting
to find comparisons.
At one point in the film, for instance, a doctor, played by Keanu
Reeves, informs Nicholsons character that he can have sex
again, if he can make it up a flight of stairs. So it was little
wonder to find one journalist asking whether issues such as ill
health, sexual competence and old age had become a concern for
him, while filming?
"Well, I've been walking pretty slow upstairs for a while,
actually," he admits, with a trademark grin, before noting
that whenever you do a movie that's got a heart attack,
a car wreck, or this or that, there's something superstitious
about actors, and every time I had heartburn I thought it was
Of the chances of following in his characters footsteps
and setting up home with an older woman, however, he becomes a
little less candid.
"It's never really been a matter of years for me, although
I've got into trouble whenever I've tried to be slightly more
scientific than that," he explained. "You know, obviously,
nature has sort of an innate breeding area for human beings, and
that certainly is somewhere in the background.
"But I'm not being coy, it's on an individual basis for
me. I don't really go by age all that much."
Turning to his career, however, it would appear that Nicholson
has no intention of easing up, despite being due a good
long break, after three years of near continuous acting.
The star made the decision, after September 11, 2001, to turn
his attention to comedy - or to go over there with the clowns,
where I belong - but remains keen not to pigeon-hole himself
into any particular category, describing it as the death
of an actor.
And he continually finds himself being surprised by the scenarios
that are being written for him, particularly with regard to being
able to play the romantic lead so late in the day.
"Oddly, the most unusual thing about this script, apart
from the fact Nancy asked me to do it, is the fact that it is
romantic," he observed, fondly.
"I found myself doing scenes that may have had a lot in
common with my own life, but which would force me to step back
and say, well I don't think I've ever done that in a movie
"It wasn't particularly difficult acting, it was just the
fact that I hadn't done it. Whenever I've been in any kind of
romantic juxtaposition with a woman in a movie, I'm usually a
murderer, or a monster, or she's crazy, so straight over the horns
romantic comedy, or acting, simply is kind of unusual for me."
Not that it should be, of course, for Nicholson has made a reputation
out of being one of the worlds great lovers, albeit a womaniser
to boot. And while he may be calling an end to his raver
days, referring to it as unattractive and inappropriate,
it is clear that he has lost none of his charm with the ladies.
Keaton, for instance, reportedly insisted on prolonging the scenes
in which she had to kiss Nicholson, on-screen, while Amanda Peet,
another of his co-stars, who joined him at the press conference,
was gushing in her praise for him.
"I already hit the Jack-pot," she confessed, upon being
asked whether there were any other stars she would like to work
with. "I mean, you have to understand, I was sitting at a
table with Diane Keaton, Frances McDormand and Jack Nicholson,
and it was just completely surreal. I hit the Lottery!"
It is probably a sentiment shared by so many of his co-stars.