Jack Nicholson (April 22, 1937)
Jack Nicholson, who played an innocent Peter Fonda teaches to inhale in Easy Rider, was one of the luminaries interviewed in Rolling Stone's 40th anniversary issue (May 3, 2007). Asked, "Do you think your generation had too much fun?" Nicholson responded, "Don't think that's possible. Yes, we smoked a little weed at work, even at the studios, but I always maintained as a writer it didn't hurt us. Too much fun? I'm not into that concept. In 1972 I knew we had to do something about legalizing dope because there were smugglers who could finance arms dealers."
Nicholson called 1967-77 the greatest decade in film, and mentioned directors Truffaut, Santyajit Ray, Bergman, Kurosawa and Godard. Among his musical favorites, he included Puccini's Turandot, The Beatles and the Stones, Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Early Joni, Neil Young's Harvest, and John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things." Nicholson reportedly owns a large art collection including works by Pablo Picasso.
On elections, he said, "One of the biggest lies in the universe is free television. This is all creating a dramatic horse race to sell soap." Viagara "worked my way for about a week, then it took its own nefarious course." When asked about the culture of celebrity, he said we should all read The Fall of the Roman Empire.
Asked, "What for you were some of the pivotal moments over the last 40 years?" Nicholson responded, "The first time I took LSD, which galvanized my life." He then added the birth of his daughter, the overnight success of Easy Rider, editing his first film, and the end of the Vietnam War. "Many of the people who were members of the so-called peace movement are now members of the right wing. I'm not." Hooray.
In 2011, Nicholson criticized America's War on Drugs in an interview with a British newspaper, and said he still smokes pot. "I don't tend to say this publicly, but we can see it's a curative thing," he told the UK's Daily Mail.
Nicholson has been nominated for an acting Oscar in five different decades (1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s). He won a much-deserved Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in Ken Kesey's One Flew of the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), a second one for Terms of Endearment (1983) and a third for As Good as It Gets (1997). Each one of the films for which he has won an Oscar has also won Best Actress in a Leading Role (Louise Fletcher, Shirley MacLaine, and Helen Hunt). The American Film Institute gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994 and he was a 2001 John F. Kennedy Center Honors recipient. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is ranked #17 on the AFI's 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time.