Jack Nicholson who the “Jack the Lad” phase had to be based on, has never found it difficult with women. But feels as though he has lost his touch and wants to find love.
Source: Daily Telegraph
THE 73-year-old Oscar-winning actor Jack Nicholson talks about everything from mortality to drugs to heartbreak.
“I would love that one last romance. But I’m not very realistic about that happening,” Nicholson told The Mail on Sunday.
Nicholson, in the middle of his 12th cigarette of the day, says in that mesmerising, molasses-mixed-with-gravel drawl: “It’s a hard-wired thing in me. I’m not good with being told. I just immediately start resisting the situation … I overreact to having my attention directed.
“I’m definitely still wild at heart. But I’ve struck bio-gravity. I can’t hit on women in public any more. I didn’t decide this; it just doesn’t feel right at my age.”
He pauses to get straight to the heart of his own theory of life.
“If men are honest, everything they do and everywhere they go is for a chance to see women. There were points in my life where I felt oddly irresistible to women. I’m not in that state now and that makes me sad.
“But I also believe that a lot of the improvements in my character have come through ageing and the diminishing of powers. It’s all a balancing act; you just have to get used to the ride.”
Nicholson, whose longest relationship was for 16 years with actress Anjelica Huston, is in a new movie, the romantic comedyHow Do You Know, alongside Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd as a rich, selfish tycoon who sets his son up to go to jail for a crime that he himself committed.
Nicholson – whose lovers have included actresses and models such as Michelle Phillips, Bebe Buell, Lara Flynn Boyle, Anjelica Huston and Rebecca Broussard – was once described by the actor Peter Finch as a “very social loner”. It’s a surprising description for a man who has reportedly slept with 2,000 women (“Hell, I don’t count”), yet it’s one he has come to agree with.
“My life has changed. I don’t enjoy the things I used to so much. I don’t go out to nightclubs, I don’t like clubs any more. I don’t go out raging, looking out for women; now it’s just a game that isn’t worth the candle.
“The last three times I’ve been in New York filming, I didn’t leave my hotel room for one single night. People won’t believe that, but it’s true. But you adjust your life to your circumstances, and I can spend a lot of time on my own. I think of myself as social, but my friends are always telling me, ‘Jack, you need to get out more.”’
There is nothing in his life he regrets, but one thing he yearns for. A lasting relationship with a woman.
“I’ve had everything a man could ask for, but I don’t know if anyone could say I’m successful with affairs of the heart. I don’t know why. I would love that one last real romance. But I’m not very realistic about it happening. What I can’t deny is my yearning.
“I’ve been in love in my life, but it always starts with obsession that lasts exactly 18 months and then it changes. If I’d known and been prepared for that, I may have been able to orchestrate the whole relationship thing better.
“But when I’m with someone I’ve often defied every one of my conventions. I’ve been so struck I’ve said, ‘Come on, let’s go, let’s get married.’ But no woman has ever recognised what I say as being legitimate. They think of my reputation, Jack the Jumper. I’m damned by what people think. Now I think I have a gap I won’t ever cross.”
He has five children; Jennifer, 47, from his only marriage, to actress Sandra Knight; Caleb, 40, whose mother is actress Susan Anspach; Honey, 29, the daughter of model Winnie Hollman; and Lorraine, 20, and Ray, 18, from a relationship with actress Rebecca Broussard, which ended his 16-year romance with Anjelica Huston. Nicholson says his heart was broken by Huston, despite the fact that he cheated on her (when he told her Broussard was pregnant she beat him up).
“The reality was that I was annihilated emotionally by the separation from Anjelica. That was probably the toughest period of my life,” Nicholson admits.
Asked if he wishes he could turn back time, he shakes his head.
“I may have made a mistake, but I don’t want to go back and correct it. I would rather deal with it.
“I would never complain about my life, even though I really would like to have a mate. It’s not like I’m starved for company – I have a few very good lady friends – but there’s only a certain amount of times a woman wants to see you and never go out for dinner. I got tired of arguing with women about going to have dinners, so I hired somebody to cook. The food is better at my house.”
As he talks, the actor begins to relax. Initially he resists talking about Jack Nicholson, the legendary womaniser, drinker, drug-taker and party animal, batting off questions with responses like, “It’s a conceptual point of view, not always the reality”.
The day he flew into New York from his LA home, he headed straight to a private party to meet up with his old friend Keith Richards, legendary guitarist with the Rolling Stones.
I remind him of pop singer Robin Williams’s joke that Nicholson is the only man in the world to whom Richards would say, “I have to go home now, Jack.”
“It’s funny, because he’d already left the party before I arrived … But contrary to opinion, however sated I got, I always looked after myself. I’ve woken up in trees, I’ve woken up almost hanging off cliffs, but I’ve always known how to sort myself out.
“Keith would stay up seven nights in a row. I stayed up late, but I slept in late, too. I always believed in taking care of myself. There was always a discipline within my partying structure. I’ve never kept a camera waiting, and in all my career I only missed one day of work, on The Shining. I put my back out.
“At the time I thought it was down to a scene where I had to throw this ball. In fact, the reason was that the movie was filmed in London. I loved British actors, and the fact there were these wild guys over there, and I wanted to show them what Jack the Waggle could do.
“I wanted to work like a beast and then go out and be all over London like a fire, the wildest of the lot. I rented a house next to the Thames that had a big high wall, and I’d come home most nights without my keys and I’d climb this wall. The first time I had no memory, and the next day at work I did in my back after this ball scene.
“A few nights later I was out again, climbing the wall, and when I landed I knew exactly how I did my back in – it was no ball.”
Nicholson’s face doesn’t betray his past like Richards’s does. Yes, he has a hedonist’s paunch and greying hair, but he has few lines and could easily pass for a man 15 years his junior.
“I haven’t had surgery. I don’t want to be judgmental, but some of the things you see these days in Hollywood are a bit horrifying. I mean, I don’t know what’s going on here, but I don’t want to scare people.
“I’ve never been comfortable about surgery. I was on the receiving end of one of the very first chest augmentations. When I touched what felt like polythene, that was it. The fuse went out. Maybe it’s childish, but I couldn’t cope with it.
“I mean, if someone can fool me with a new chest or lips, then I’m happy to be fooled. But I have to admit I have a prejudice against it. I’m not worried about wrinkles, in myself or in women. I find them interesting. I can’t see so well, so sometimes I look in the mirror and I see how I was as a young man. But a few years back I noticed I don’t have any hair below my sock line, and I thought to myself, ‘Jackie, that’s an old man.’
“One of the toughest parts of ageing is losing your friends. At first it starts quietly, then pretty soon it’s every month, and you can’t help but think, ‘When is that bell going to go off for me?’ And on top of that you feel this constant loss. At this time of life, you feel just a sword’s point from death. It’s frightening – who wants to face God and the clear white light? I know I definitely don’t. Yet.”
These days the hard drugs are gone, but he continues to smoke cannabis.
“I don’t tend to say this publicly, but we can see it’s a curative thing. The narcotics industry is also enormous. It funds terrorism and – this is a huge problem in America – fuels the foreign gangs. More than 85 per cent of men incarcerated in America are on drug-related offences. It costs $40,000 a year for every prisoner. If they were really serious about the economy there would be a sensible discussion about legalisation.”