Jack Nicholson, an enigmatic and versatile actor, has left an indelible mark on cinema through his iconic roles and magnetic on-screen presence. Known for his ability to seamlessly transition between intense drama and dark comedy, Nicholson's performances are marked by a depth of emotion and a vivid portrayal of complex characters. From his unforgettable turn as the manic Randle McMurphy in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" to his chilling portrayal of the Joker in "Batman," Nicholson's performances have earned him multiple Academy Awards and a permanent place in Hollywood history. His off-screen persona, characterized by a combination of charm and intensity, only adds to the mystique surrounding him. Nicholson's legacy extends beyond his films, as he stands as a reminder of the transformative power of acting to breathe life into narratives and captivate audiences around the world.
Jack Nicholson Quotes
I am a person who is trained to look other people in the eye. But I can't look into the eyes of everyone who wants to look into mine; I can't emotionally cope with that kind of volume. Sunglasses are part of my armor.
There's only two people in your life you should lie to: the police and your girlfriend.
People who speak in metaphors should shampoo my crotch.
I'm Irish. I think about death all the time.
With my sunglasses on, I'm Jack Nicholson. Without them, I'm fat and 60.
Beer, it's the best damn drink in the world.
The minute that you're not learning I believe you're dead.
Human beings are always going to find interesting ways of making a mess of their lives. It's human nature.
Men dominate because of physicality, and thus they have mercy where women do not.
I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.
I don't think many people have a very good understanding of leisure and the importance it plays in our lives.
I'm very contra my constituency in terms of abortion because I'm positively against it. I don't have the right to any other view. My only emotion is gratitude, literally, for my life.
I mean, it's real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace.
When we make mistakes they call it evil. When God makes mistakes they call it Nature!
I learned a long time ago in Hollywood that the only person I should vote for is myself.
It's very easy to go down, so always live up. Incline yourself upward.
A lot of people manage to find common ground and not let disagreements or tensions build up and destroy them, and other people break up or get divorced. I don't think anything is ever going to change that situation. You simply try to find an accommodation and an understanding with another person and work from there.
I love women who have a strong sense of themselves because I know I have a pretty good idea of what I want out of life and I like to be around other people who are also pretty secure. It just makes things easier.
I love discourse. I'm dying to have my mind changed. I'm probably the only liberal who read Treason, by Ann Coulter. I want to know, you understand? I like listening to everybody. This to me is the elixir of life.
You can't handle the truth!
You can call me Joker. And as you can see, I'm a lot happier.
If it is difficult to know yourself as an individual, it seems to be more complex as a couple. So if you say, "Oh I like a person who is like this and that," you might take away the possibility of seeing the only one that might be right for you.
I've always had an urge to feed my need to have fun and feel free. I don't see any interesting alternatives.
In my last year of school, I was voted Class Optimist and Class Pessimist. Looking back, I realize I was only half right.
Women - a mistake, or did He do it to us on purpose?
I don't have any plugs or tucks but people do what they want. I look at it as mutilation.
The only way to break a bad habit was to replace it with a better habit.
I have never lied to you, I have always told you some version of the truth.
There's no point dwelling on what might or could have been. You just have to go forward.
I'm against cronyism, and I had to learn that early on. Like, I don't have an entourage, because I saw the negative effects of those things.
I only take Viagra when I'm with more than one woman.
Early on, if I was alone two three nights in a row, I'd start writing poems about suicide.
No issue is more compelling than the air we breathe, be it hot or cold, be it hawk or human.
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.
Do you think God knew what he was doing when he created woman?
I don't know if this is a true statistic, but I heard somewhere that there are three times as many single women over forty as single men. That's what we got from the women's movement. The chickens have come home to roost.
I would never want to vilify somebody who considered abortion murder. I was an illegitimate child myself. I may not have existed today.
We live, we die, and the wheels on the bus go round and round.
If you think you’re attractive, you’re always attractive.
A lot of people in the middle of their lives have a secret yearning for more romance.
I think it's good if a man gives a woman some time to herself because I think we all need that and we can all benefit from that. It doesn't imply a rejection of the other person, just a sense that because we do have our separate identities, sometimes you have to be less involved in another person's life or need to have that other person be less involved in your life.
Time keeps no measure when true friends are parted, No record day by day; the sands move not for those who, loyal-hearted, friendship's firm laws obey.
I think the Greeks invented sports as an antidote to philosophy.
I'm content with the fact that I made a decent effort. That's what I've always worried about: that I wouldn't try hard enough.
You're anachronistic when you know that your feelings aren't going to have any effect on anything.
Once you've been really bad in a movie, there's a certain kind of fearlessness you develop.
Everyone pretty much acknowledges that he's the man, and I still feel that underrates him.
Just because you're perfectionist doesn't mean you're perfect.
If men are honest, everything they do and everywhere they go is for a chance to see women.
Life doesn't have to be about finding Osama bin Laden or becoming the president of the United States. Life is about the little things, which is one of the things you learn when you get older.
When you look at life retrospectively you rarely regret anything that you did, but you might regret things that you didn't do.
You make me want to be a better man.
You can follow the action, which gets you good pictures. You can follow your instincts, which will probably get you in trouble. Or, you can follow the money, which nine times out of ten will get you closer to the truth.
There is one thing I know about creative conflict: once my argument is exhausted, I am not going to be unhappy whether it moves in my direction or away.
I'm definitely still wild at heart.
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.
When they say I'm a great actor, I close my ears because it's not good for you to think that way.
We learn how to kiss, or to drink, talk to our buddies-all the things that you can't really teach in social studies or history-we all learn them at the movies.
Frankly, I got into the movies because I like the movies a lot.
A star on a movie set is like a time bomb. That bomb has got to be defused so people can approach it without fear.
Sometimes a bit of distance can be very healthy. You can go away by yourself on a trip and come back very glad to be with your partner because you've cleared your head out of all the negativity.
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.
I want my kids to have a deep, inner feeling that it's alright to be happy, that you don't have to be constantly manufacturing problems that you don't really have.
Well, a girlfriend once told me never to fight with anybody you don't love.
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.
I didn't know that my sister was really my mother until I was thirty-seven years old. But life has taught me that there have been a lot of things that I didn't know.
I've never lost a friend over work. I come from a small-town environment and I remember my childhood impressions that, if you were a conniver or a fink or whatever, everybody knew about it and you were a louse for the rest of your life. So I never lost those values in some way.
At 55 I said the probability is I won't have another relationship. I just didn't want to start another family. Between my own bizarre criteria and taste and the fact that I'm not available for many things I thought it was unlikely. Once you know the science about it, I don't think anybody should consider being committed to a real eternal relationship until you're through something called the infatuation circle.
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.
I think that's what distinguishes Schmidt, really. In the movies now, so much of what is appealing to an audience is the dramatic or has to do with science fiction, and Schmidt is simply human. There's no melodrama; there's no device, It's just about a human being.
And this, incidentally, is my thumbnail sketch of American marriage: A woman sees a man; she likes him. Now she jumps on this thing and rides it to some kind of standstill. Then she changes it and trains it, and to the exact degree that she's able to do this, she disrespects him.
I envy people of faith. I'm incapable of believing in anything supernatural.
I used to think that one of the great signs of security was the ability to just walk away.
I'll tell you one thing: Don't ever give anybody your best advice, because they're not going to follow it.
Take caution in your tone, commander. I'm a fair man, but this -- heat is making me absolutely crazy.
Even in the most sophisticated person, it is the primitive eye that watches the film.
I've always fought against being controlled and manipulated and stomped upon by circumstances.
Almost everybody's happy to be a fool for love.
Acting is everybody's favorite second job.
I've been too many places. I'm like the bad penny.
In this industry, there are only two ways up the ladder. Rung by rung or claw your way to the top. It's sure been tough on my nails.
I'd prefer if people had no impressions of me. As a kid, I had to tell my own family, "Please, just don't talk about me!" Because they always got it wrong. Always. I just didn't want them to tell anyone anything about me.
Age is the first limitation on roles that I've ever had to encounter, and I hit that awhile ago.
My motto is: more good times.
You look at someone long enough, you discover their humanity.
I know I can act. There aren't too many other jobs I know how to do. Financially, I've lost money and made money, but I know my way around financially. I've been too many places. I'm like the bad penny.
I wanted to be the best actor possible. I worked very hard at the craft of it.
I think the Greeks invented sports as an antidote to philosophy. In sports there are absolute rules. It's not, What about this? What about that? Either you're safe or you're out. It's ten yards or it's not. It's in the hoop or out of the hoop. It's certain.
I don't want to direct a movie as good as Antonioni, or Kubrick, or Polanski, or whoever. I want it to be my own. I think I've got the seed of it and, what's more, that I can make movies that are different and informed by my taste.
I love working with women directors. They don't mind making you cute.
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!
Decent people shouldn't live here. They'd be happier some place else.
If I were an Arab-American, I would insist on being profiled. This is not the time for civil rights. There are larger issues for Americans.
I have given a name to my pain, and it is Batman.
I'd give my goddamned soul for just a glass of beer.
I respect the social graces enormously. How to pass the food. Don't yell from one room to another. Don't go through a closed door without a knock. Open the doors for the ladies. All these millions of simple household behaviors make for a better life. We can't live in constant rebellion against our parents - it's just silly. I'm very well mannered. It's not an abstract thing. It's a shared language of expectations.
When it's over for a woman, it's over. You're not getting an appeal.
Comedy is much harder, it's a lot more exacting. You can't just be real and you can't just use the same kind of techniques you use to fill up a regular scene.
There's a tacit agreement today that the white male is the only legitimate target for any and all satire, criticism, and so forth. And we pretty much just accept it.
Being pigeonholed is the death of all actors.
My only emotion is gratitude, literally, for my life.
You are more thoughtful because you don't act as quickly anymore. When I turned 70 it was the first time I felt young for my age. Fifty dropped on me like a ton of bricks - there is something about that number - but when 70 came along I felt good about it.
If you want your freedom, you have to be willing to work hard to exercise it.
I used to be very quick, I would be able to leave the room and be back before you noticed. When you can't do that anymore you need to change the style of how you do things. But I'm very interested in life and you don't want to lose that.
There are short parts that I as an actor am very right for. Or I just like the part. Or you need someone like me for the movie. By that I don't mean at the box office, I mean in the execution of the material.
I resist all established beliefs. My religion basically is to be immediate, to live in the now. It's an old cliche, I know, but it's mine. I envy people of faith. I'm incapable of believing in anything supernatural. So far, at least. Not that I wouldn't like to. I mean, I want to believe. I do pray. I pray to something ... up there. I have a God sense. It's not religious so much as superstitious. It's part of being human, I guess ... Do unto others: How much deeper into religion do we really need to go?
In the real world there's an after-effect of disappointment if you lose an argument. But if, to begin with, you're set up not to have this particular autonomy, then you're not disappointed.
I have mainly been interested in acting. I think it's a great job, a fine way to live your life.
Dissembling is a common tool of the anger junkie.
I was particularly proud of my performance as the Joker. I considered it a piece of pop art.
The stage has a certain discipline. But the ultimate standard is more exacting in film, because you have to see yourself and you are your own toughest critic.
I certainly knew my father. He just didn't happen to be my biological father.
The camera photographs what's there.
How would I like to be seen? Very endearing, charming, intelligent, handsome.
There was a period when I just wanted to make what I wanted to make and I didn't care what lie I had to tell.
For an actor, style comes last. You first have to implement the whole thing, but your style comes from the subconscious, which is the best part an actor brings to his work.
I did not want to be coming off the stage at the mercy of what somebody else told me I did.
I have never felt brutalized as an actor. Many actors do, some times, but I've never had that experience. If I'm not happy with the balance, I just won't work with that person again.
Many actors will try something different once, but if it isn't a box office success they'll never do it again. In my opinion, there's no point in going on with this job if you do the same thing over and over again.
I feel very lucky because I don't think there's any part I can't play. There are parts that scare me more than others.
I just know that sameness, repetition, and conceptualizing are the acting craft's adversaries, and it seems more intelligent to start off within a framework where those things are, to some degree, taken out of your hands.
The most difficult thing about being well known? Getting out of a hotel room at 4am.
I've always had lots of friends who share my perspective - I guess you could say that I'm a guy who aggressively pursues his happiness.
I'm an actor who they said was wrinkled and balding and everything else when I was in my early 30's. Most of the people who wrote that who thought they were younger than me are now bald and wrinkled.
What's beautiful is all that counts, pal. That's ALL that counts.
I don't want people to know what I'm actually like. It's not good for an actor.
I resist all established beliefs. My religion basically is to be immediate, to live in the now.
I want a big 25-foot pink statue that holds my grave. Or I also might like the way the Indians did it. They hang you up on the top of a tree and the birds eat you. No, really I would probably choose cremating.
I can't hit on women in public any more. I didn't decide this; it just doesn't feel right at my age.
A man needs a private life. With no ability to have a private life, one thing leads to another, and before you know it we have Bill and Monica. We need to get real about things. Humans are humans. Why should we expect more?
I am in an age group where it is rude to discuss money, and now it is all anyone cares about.
Having kids is the most innately positive thing that anyone can do.
I think human beings have a basic instinct to be free and explore their world in their own way. I've always been driven to look at life as something which we should try to plunge into rather than sit back. You have to be able to have fun and keep creating a sense of excitement to how you approach the world.
I've always thought basketball was the best sport, although it wasn't the sport I was best at. It was just the most fun to watch.
Believe it or not, I supported Richard Nixon on the issue of presidential privilege. How could anyone conceive of being the president of the United States and think that every single thing that you say or do can become a part of the public record? It just seems so stupid to me.
― Jack Nicholson Quotes
Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.