On His Own Terms
Riding high atop Hollywood's star machine, Jack Nicholson is enjoying the view.
From the Print Edition:
Jack Nicholson, Summer 95
(continued from page 7)
The subject of the Oscars immediately brings to mind a question posed by many people in the entertainment business--especially those who've never won one: Is there really such a thing as a film or an actor or a director actually being "best"? Aren't all nominees good in their own way?
"Of course they are all good," avers Nicholson. "Let's say there is such a thing as 'best,' and let it go at that. How many different opinions do you think there are on the subject, anyway?" After a thoughtful puff or two on his Montecristo, he answers his own question. "I've only heard two opinions on the subject of Academy Awards that stick in my mind. Lao-tze, the great Chinese philosopher, once said, 'All tribute is false.' And then there's what my old and good friend John Huston used to say about it. He said he supported the Awards out of respect for 'all others who have gone before us.' "
Pause. More pungent smoke drifting from the end of his cigar. "I always say about John, for a certain period of time I had the great good fortune to know the best guy alive. A beautiful man. I miss him.... Of course, there are a great too many awards being handed out today, on television. They're just gimmicks to promote television, which is really a competitive medium to the movies. But the movie people don't realize this, just as they are unaware of cancer until it eats them up alive."
Another pregnant pause. He breaks his silence with a surprising revelation for a man's who's fairly reticent about discussing his private life.
"I suppose everyone would like to know what it was like for me to be working with Anjelica again after our breakup. You know, I lived with her for 20 years. But working with her again was fantastic. I hadn't seen her since we had severed our relationship. She was now a happily married woman. But it was fantastic fun for both of us. It was good to see how much we'd grown, and very fine, incidentally, for the picture."
"I'm glad to see her so happy. She's one of the greatest people I've ever known. And I've known her since she was a little girl. She lived with her father in Ireland and France when she was growing up. She didn't come back here to begin her career until she was about 21. [That year] I met her again at a party in this house. I forgot who brought her. I took one look at her and thought, 'There's a woman of obvious grace and refinement. She's got class. Real class.' "
Nicholson made his move on her shortly after that, and within months she was living with him. They stayed together for almost 20 years. Until, as Nicholson put it so circumspectly, "We severed our relationship."
Of course, the breakup wasn't as casual and laid-back as Nicholson makes it out to be.
From the start, Nicholson wanted everyone to believe that his relationship with Huston was a conventional one, except for the absence of a marriage license. But this was apparently just another role he was playing. A 28-year-old auburn-haired Vogue model and part-time film actress named Karen Mayo-Chandler upset the story by revealing her year-long affair with Nicholson in the pages of Playboy's December 1989 issue.
Huston might have loved Nicholson enough to deal with all of the young model's revelations. But close on the heels of the Playboy article came news over the wire services that the actor had impregnated another of his lovers--a little-known but beautiful model and part-time cocktail waitress named Rebecca Broussard. He couldn't keep the news from Huston, who, according to him, took it like the "classy lady" she is, but she nevertheless ended the relationship then and there.
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Paul AI — October 2, 2010 9:07pm ET
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