Well done differently: 3Sat shows how Jack Nicholson ticks
He has the most famous grin in Hollywood: Actor Jack Nicholson has turned 80. For a long time his life was not heroic.
That grin. It’s always there when you think of Jack Nicholson. It can be scary, charming or arrogant – but it is always memorable. And it’s without a doubt Hollywood’s most famous grin. Just as its wearer is one of the most famous actors of his generation.
Jack Nicholson turned 80 this year. Reason for filmmaker Annette Baumeister to portray the three-time Oscar winner. 3Sat will show their film “Jack Nicholson” on Saturday evening (December 9th, 10:15 pm). Immediately before that, the feature film “The Promise” (8:15 pm) with Nicholson in the lead role will be shown.
He was never interested in the roles of the good guy
Baumeister’s film tells the story of a man who never gave up the shining hero. His characters were always mentally unstable as in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, sexually uninhibited as in “When the Postman Rings Twice” or destructive as in “Shining”. The role of the good, the good – that never interested him.
Maybe also because his own life was not heroic for a long time. Even childhood began with a lie. Because the woman Nicholson thought was his sister was actually his mother. She became accidentally pregnant as a teenager, and Nicholson’s grandmother raised him as her son. It was not until he was 37 that he found out about his parentage.
By then, Nicholson, ridiculed as ugly as a teenager, was already a star in Hollywood. His role in the cult film “Easy Rider” brought the long-awaited breakthrough in 1969 and the first of twelve Oscar nominations – a record.
Nicholson hardly gives interviews
The documentary approaches Jack Nicholson through his work and friends. Many film clips, including from earlier films, give a good insight into Nicholson’s development. Unfortunately, his attempts as a director – including “The Terror” 1963 – are largely ignored. In return, companions like producer and explorer Henry Jaglom or director Peter Segal (“Die Wutprobe” 2003) have their say. It is they who tell, analyze and classify anecdotes. The star himself does not speak. No wonder, since Nicholson has been living in seclusion in the hills above Los Angeles for decades. Interviews are rare.
In general, it has become quiet around the man with the distinctive sunglasses in recent years. But how much he also influences young Hollywood stars is shown by a scene that can also be seen in the documentary. Actress Jennifer Lawrence is sitting there for an interview immediately after she won an Oscar in 2013.
Five children with four women
But it is not the trophy that stands in front of her that takes her breath away. It’s Jack Nicholson who suddenly shows up and says how much he appreciates her. “Oh my god,” Lawrence stammered. Here it becomes clear: Nicholson is not as rough and rough as he is in his films. Despite numerous affairs and relationships – Nicholson has five children with four wives – there were never any scandals. But maybe there will be a new film soon.
Conclusion: A very successful portrait of a fascinating man. Only the Nietzsche quotes that have been rehearsed remain puzzling and unexplained. Nicholson himself probably wouldn’t like the film – far too heroic.
• “Jack Nicholson”, Saturday, December 9th, 10:15 pm, previously from 8:15 pm, “The Promise” (8:15 pm).