Jack Nicholson, is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors Hollywood has had the privilege of employing. His onscreen performances have the power to lure you in and capture your attention till the end of the film. His large varieties of roles can stretch from playing a writer who goes crazy in ‘The Shining’ to playing a misanthrope author in ‘As Good As It Gets’. No matter what bizarre and challenging role he takes on, he always exudes charm and charisma. His performances have always left the audience in awe of his raw talent.
His Oscar-winning performance in ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ propelled his career on a ride up that has no plans of coming down. Critics often compared and grouped him with some of the most famous classic actors such as Marlon Brandon, James Dean, Spencer Tracy, and James Cagney among others. Nicholson has had 60 years’ worth of experience in the film industry. His endless list of great performances has earned him his rightful place in the list of classic evergreen actors.
According to his Wikipedia, Jack’s 12 Academy Award nominations make him the most nominated male actor in the Academy’s history, no small feat I tell you. I consider it an honor to have existed in the same era as his works.
It never seems enough when you talk about him and his works. So, as a tribute to the legend, let’s look at some of Jack Nicholson’s most memorable quotes from life.
1. “My motto is: more good times.”
Same Jack, same. We can never have enough of good times. The definition of having a good time for me, is lying on my bed and watching a Jack Nicholson film, while chomping down on a veg. burger and sipping coke.
2. “There’s only two people in your life you should lie to; the police and your girlfriend.”
An advice that works for any time and any generation.
3. “I hate advice unless I’m giving it. I hate giving advice, because people won’t take it.”
How often have you found yourself advising your friend not to get back with their ex, but they do it anyway? Well, it’s the same thing, people never actually follow the advises you give. Maybe they just like the sound of concern in your voice.
4. “I’m Irish. I think about death all the time.”
Death is inevitable, it is the only undeniable truth of life. We should all be thinking of the end and use it to enrich our lives.
5. “As for me, I like that line I wrote that, we used in The Border, where I said, ‘I just want to do something good before I die.’ Isn’t that what we all want?”
A wonderful thought from a brilliant mind. A simple act of kindness has the power to create a ripple effect. Each person doing something good would make the world a better place to live in.
6. ”There’s a period of time just before you start a movie when you start thinking, I don’t know what in the world I’m going to do. It’s free-floating anxiety. In my case, though, this is over by lunch the first day of shooting.”
We’ve all been there, the nervousness of starting a new job, or giving a presentation, or performing on stage. Since we’re not Jack Nicholson, we can’t get over it as easily. But, once you get in the groove, the tension is gone and is replaced with the familiarity of what you have practiced.
7. “I’m the last guy in the world to feel overlooked by the Academy.”
8. “Almost anyone can give a good representative performance when you’re unknown. It’s just easier. The real pro game of acting is after you’re known—to ‘un-Jack’ that character, in my case, and get the audience to reinvest in a new and specific, fictional person.”
9. “The minute that you’re not learning, I believe you’re dead.”
Life is all about learning every single day of our lives. No, not sitting in a classroom kind of learning. Learning from everything you experience and see. Like Stephen Hawking said, “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is an illusion of knowledge.”, the things you can learn have no boundaries, so do not limit yourself.
10. “I just like art. I get pure pleasure from it. I have a lot of wonderful paintings, and every time I look at them I see something different.”
Art must be the most beautiful yet complex thing we humans have ever invented.
11. “I like to play people that haven’t existed yet, a ‘cusp character’.”
12. “I worry from the moment I take a job. I worry about how I’m going to do it, if I’m going to do it. … Then I walk on the set and the director says,” Roll’, and all of a sudden, all of it disappears and it’s all happening, and I relax, and I’m doing what I do, and I’m not even thinking about it. “
Even the great actor himself has worries about what he’s going to do and how he’s going to do it. Being nervous is normal. If you’re doing something you believe in, the worry becomes secondary, and it fades away.
13. “With my sunglasses on I am Jack Nicholson. Without them I am fat and 60.”
Jack and his signature sunglasses at the red carpet. No matter what Jack, you’ll always be an icon.
14. “Financially, I’ve lost money and made money, but I know my way around financially.”
15. “In this industry there’s only two ways to the top of the ladder. Rung by rung or claw your way to the top, it’s sure been tough on my nails.”
Its sure isn’t easy being a top star in Hollywood. It’s a cut-throat industry where luck and talent must come together to help you while you claw your way up.
See Also: Tom Hanks Quotes.
16. “If you get an impulse in a scene, no matter how wrong it seems, follow the impulse. It might be something and if it ain’t … take two!”
The master of improvisation. One of his famous lines, “Here’s Johnny!!” from ‘The Shining’ was also an improv. The line is a well-known quote, and it also has several parodied images online.
17. “Well, a girlfriend once told me never fight with anybody you don’t love.”
Really, why bother arguing with somebody you don’t really care about. It’s such a waste of breath to be using it over people you don’t know.
18. “I am a person who is trained to look other people in the eye.”
19. “I like to not care that much about criticism, but I do care about it.”
As a performer, it’s natural to care about criticism, whether it be to improve or just to get an idea of how your performance is being received.
20. “Just let the wardrobe do the acting.”
21. “I’m not hard to get along with.”
Sure Jack, sure.
22. “We are going as fast as we can as soon as we can. We’re in a race against time, until we run out of money.”
23. “It’s okay if people don’t like you. Most people don’t even like themselves.”
The world is full of different people with differing opinions. Does it really matter what someone thinks about you? A person’s capability to love or hate someone else only reflects their own personality and nature. It does not credit or discredit you in anyway. A person’s self-worth is as much as you believe it to be.
24. “I’m not a power person. I like everyone to be on an equal footing.”
25. “I always knew there wasn’t going to be anybody to help me and emotionally support me, that whatever I did I’d have to do on my own.”
We are born alone and must die alone. It’s good to have friends and family to accompany you as you make your way, but you and only you can live in your skin.
26. “I’ve always had an urge to feed my need to have fun and feel free. I don’t see any interesting alternatives.”
To be free and have fun, if only life were as simple as that. Maybe it’s easier if you’re a big movie star.
27. “I usually don’t get too bogged down with my personal problems because that’s a one-way street if you get yourself into a negative frame of mind and only see the dark side of life.”
In this day and age, it’s easy to fall into the pits of depression. Always remind yourself of the beauty of nature and let it overwhelm you with all other emotions. If you can’t splurge on an exotic trip to the Bahamas, you could watch Planet Earth II. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
28. “I don’t think many people have a very good understanding of leisure and the importance it plays in our lives.”
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Make sure to take some time off from work before you turn psychotic.
29. “I’ve never been able to say I’ve been influenced by a list of artists I like because I like thousands and thousands and I’ve been influenced in some way by all of them.”
If I had become an actor instead of a writer, it’s safe to say Jack Nicholson would’ve been a huge influence.
30. “I’m content with the fact that I’ve made a decent effort. That’s what I’ve always worried about: that I wouldn’t try hard enough.”
One of my biggest fears is regret. The only way to fight it is to give my best.
31. “Acting is everybody’s favorite job.”
We’re all actors really, actors who act without cameras.
32. “I’m definitely still wild at heart.”
And always will be.
33. “There’s no way you can get people to get to believe you on screen if they know who you really are through television.”
34. “We live, we die, and the wheels on the bus go round and round.”
151,600 people die each day. When the dead are gone, the living must move on.
35. “I don’t want people to know what I’m actually like. It’s not good for an actor.”
36. “When I come up with a director who has a concept that I don’t agree with, or maybe I just haven’t thought of it or whatever, I’d be more prone to go on with them than my own because I want to be out of control as an actor, I want them to have the control, otherwise it’s going to become predictably my work, and that’s not fun.”
Not only was Jack a remarkable actor, he was also a writer and a filmmaker. So, it’s understandable why it would become predictably his work if the director didn’t have the control.
37. “I’m not going to sit here and pretend I haven’t been a rogue most of my life.”
A ‘rogue’ loved and appreciated by all. Truly a one of a kind actor and the person who lived his life to the fullest. There are only a few numbers of people who are born to act, and Jack is unquestionably one of them. His irrational antics and wild nature has won him millions of fans around the world, and rightfully so.
Jack is now 81; he hasn’t often appeared on screen since 2010. Let’s hope he decides to gift us an appearance soon. The day he quits acting will be a sad day for the film industry.
I hope this list of Jack Nicholson quotes has stirred in you a desire to live a fuller life.
You don’t have to stop here, why not have a movie marathon of all Jack Nicholson movies.
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