Jack Nicholson quotes and sayings
April 22, 1937
Human beings are always going to find interesting ways of making a mess of their lives. It's human nature.
That's what I like about the movie business: you're always in contact with wonderful and interesting people.
The only way to break a bad habit was to replace it with a better habit.
There are many directors in the middle range who've made mostly successful pictures, and then there are a few great directors who've had some successes and some failures. I suppose my life would be smoother if I wasn't almost totally enamored of the latter category.
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 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 look for a director with a script he likes a lot, but I'm probably after the directors more than anything.
A lot of people can't remember things because they weren't actually there to begin with - they don't take it all in.
The blues and jazz will live forever... So will the Delta and the Big Easy.
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.
If men are honest, everything they do and everywhere they go is for a chance to see women.
People who speak in metaphors should shampoo my crotch.
I've always had an urge to feed my need to have fun and feel free. I don't see any interesting alternatives.
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.
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.
We live, we die, and the wheels on the bus go round and round.
So what he supposed to do? Grab Bobbie's ax and make like Jack Nicholson in The Shinning? He could see it. Smash, crash, bash: Heeeeeeere's GARDENER!
There's only two people in your life you should lie to... the police and your girlfriend.
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 assume most of the characters I play are exactly like me.
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.
The average celebrity meets, in one year, ten times the amount of people that the average person meets in his entire life.
Just let the wardrobe do the acting.
Financially, I've lost money and made money, but I know my way around financially.
When it's over for a woman, it's over. You're not getting an appeal.
Well, a girlfriend once told me never to fight with anybody you don't love.
One of my school friends' parents owned a minigolf course, and a bunch of us kids would play there all day in the summer. Two-under deuces was a good score.
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.
Once you've started a film you don't become a wet noodle. You must have that conflictual interface because you don't know, and they don't know. It's through conflict that you come out with something that might be different, better than either of you thought to begin with.
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.
I mean, it's real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. Of course, don't ever tell anybody that they're not free, 'cause then they're gonna get real busy killing and maiming to prove to you that they are. Oh yeah, they're gonna talk to you and talk to you and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it's gonna scare 'em.
Acting is everybody's favorite second job.
My point of view, while extremely cogent, is unpopular. . . . That the repressive nature of the legalities vis-a-vis drugs are destroying the legal system and corrupting the police system.
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!
Before I moved into the mainstream of American movies, I wrote a script as an experiment. I wanted to get very far away from the clichs about the three-act play - structure, development.
Just because you're perfectionist doesn't mean you're perfect.
The fuel for the sports fan is the ability to have private theories.
I was invited to join the MGM cartoon department. But if I'd started work in animation I'd have had to take a cut in salary, so I didn't.
I'm a New Wave baby, so I got very stimulated by foreign film.
I don't believe that relationships are fixed things. People are necessarily complex and confused beings. We don't always do the right thing, say the right, and behave the same way or the way we always want to behave.
You know, I think I understand what you're like now. You're very beautiful and you think men are only interested in you because you're beautiful. But you want them to be interested in you because you're you. The problem is, aside from all that beauty, you're not very interesting. You're rude, you're hostile, you're sullen, you're withdrawn... oh, I know- you want someone to look past all that at the real person underneath. But the only reason anyone would bother to look past all that is because you're beautful. Ironic, isn't it? In an odd way you're your own problem.
I take responsibility for my successes as well as my failures. But when I look at my professional mistakes, I'm always left with the feeling that maybe I should have done more.
I'm a good friend.
I'm in the movie business; it's meant to be very cutthroat. But you won't find anybody that ever says I cheated them or manipulated them.
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.
I sort of understood that when I first started: that you shouldn't repeat a success. Very often you're going to, and maybe the first time you do, it works. And you love it. But then you're trapped.
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.
Having kids is the most innately positive thing that anyone can do.
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've always understood money; it's not a big mystical thing to me.
The less people know about me, the easier my job is.
It's the post-literate generation that is most disturbing to a movie-maker. The explosions and the knifings. People like to go to what's hot and you can't get past a certain gross unless you involve children who go more than once.
Beer, it's the best damn drink in the world.
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'd give my goddamned soul for just a glass of beer.
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.
I suppose I can do more for a script as an actor than as a writer - in the film sense.
How would I like to be seen? Very endearing, charming, intelligent, handsome.
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'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.
As an actor, I want to give in to the collaboration with the director because I don't want my work to be all the same. The more this can be done with comfort, the more variety my work has had.
I learned a long time ago in Hollywood that the only person I should vote for is myself.
When I am cast in a movie where I feel that the woman's part is more interesting, I usually start thinking about Spencer Tracy and Fred Astaire. They seem to be the most clear actors when working with women.
I have a lot of vanity.
A lot of people in the middle of their lives have a secret yearning for more romance.
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.
I'm Irish. I think about death all the time.
You can call me Joker. And as you can see, I'm a lot happier.
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 used to think that one of the great signs of security was the ability to just walk away.
I did not want to be coming off the stage at the mercy of what somebody else told me I did.
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.
I don't have any fear of intimacy, but rather thrive on it, which is rare in a public person.
I would never complain about my life, even though I really would like to have a mate.
Brad Dourif would tell himself that he was not intentionally trying to mimic Jack Nicholson in any way. I think that actually bothers him a little bit. I just think maybe they have similar voices.
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 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 probably no one who understands Method acting better academically than I do, or actually uses it more in his work. But it's funny - nobody really sees that. It's perception versus reality, I suppose.
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.
Women are sort of like motorcycle gangs with me. They get really shy and polite. I don't know why.
Well, I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I haven't been a rogue most of my life.
I never had a policy about marriage. I got married very young in life and I always think in all relationships, I've always thought that it's counterproductive to have a theory on that.
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.
Have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight?
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.
I'll tell you one thing: Don't ever give anybody your best advice, because they're not going to follow it.
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.
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