Jack Nicholson on The Bucket List

The now 70 year old Nicholson talks about his life and new film ‘The Bucket List’.

It used to be that Jack Nicholson only had one thing on his mind – women. Now at 70 Jack still can’t stop thinking about the opposite sex but he also has death on his mind – and he’s not happy about either of them. The living legend of Hollywood is facing up to the reality of his old age and the effect it’s having on his way with women. Not that the years have made Jack a dull boy. Far from it. The Easy Rider star still loves the ladies but he’s actually scared to do anything about it. Tinseltown’s original playboy is not letting fear get in the way of a good time however, insisting he has no plans to wind up his womanizing. The other thing of concern for Jack has come about not so much because of his age (he turns 71 in April) but due to the subject matter of his latest movie. In The Bucket List, Jack teams up with fellow golden-oldie Morgan Freeman as a pair of terminally ill cancer patients who embark on a road trip with a wish-list of to-dos they hope to achieve before they die. With his lust for life, Jack would appear to have plenty more years in him yet but he has started to make arrangements for the day his lifelong adventure comes to an end. In fact the Oscar-winning star says he feels better in his seventies than he did in his fifties even if the women and nightlife of today are a bit more of a challenge for him.

Here Jack reveals how he’s still sex mad if a little more coy about the lead up.


Q: Revenge plays its part in this movie, do you have a list of people you want to get back at from down the years?

JN: “No, I’m very confrontational. Usually I deal with things straight away. I’m unaware of any enemies either, but I never cheated on anybody. I’ve never got anywhere by stepping on others. I’m in the movie business, it’s meant to be very cut throat, but you won’t find anybody that ever says I cheated them or manipulated them.”


Q: Not even girls?

JN: “The girls only did that because they missed me more than they thought they would. (laughs)”


Q: Are you a womanizer?

JN: “Absolutely. When I ask at a press conference, for example, if anybody knows of a good place to go out, I actually hope that somebody gets up and tells me. I used to know all the good places pretty well. Nowadays I don’t even know the name of a single nightclub in LA anymore.”

Q: Do you use your acting skills on women?

JN: “I never separate.”


Q: What do you like the most about women, the spirit, the body, the fun?

JN: “I just want them to be a person. I just started reading a book called What Men Still Don’t Understand About Women and Romance. It’s almost like The Bridges of Madison County. It feels like this book is specifically written against me and the thesis of the book is that the genders are in two different conversations. The male character in that book is my generation and thinks that you have to be your own man and this is the person that they think is blocking right now the thesis of the book. What women want is a whole other conversation. They want reassurance, support, yet they feel manipulated when it happens. The idea of the book is we are all talking different languages.”


Q: Do you like women to make the next move?

JN: “That would be nice but it doesn’t happen to me. Women are sort of like motorcycle gangs with me. They get really shy and polite with me. I don’t know why.”


Q: Do you have a love of your life now?

JN: “More than one unfortunately (laughs). At 55 I said the probability is I won’t have another relationship. I just didn’t want to start another family. I don’t think anybody should consider being committed to a real eternal relationship until you go through a cycle called the infatuation cycle, which hasn’t changed since the beginning of time. It’s the first 18 months because that’s the time in a relationship when anything can happen. So for a long time I thought I really loved everything about a girl and then I found out it wasn’t like that.”


Q: Do you think a lot about dying?

JN: “Yes. When I was working on the script, I thought that there were a lot of original thoughts in it, because these are subjects that we think about all the time, but don’t necessarily talk about. Everybody has thought about if they want to be cremated, buried or whatever.”


Q: Have you made your mind up about that?

JN: “Well, I’ll give you a couple of ideas. I want a big 25ft pink statue on my grave. But then I thought I like the way the Indians did it; they hang you up on the top of a tree and the birds eat you. I probably would choose cremating.”


Q: As you are getting older, is it easier or more difficult to get roles in movies you want to be in?

JN: “I was surprised by the Coen-brothers film this year (No Country for Old Men). When I read the book I didn’t even know that they were doing that movie, but I still liked it and then Tommy Lee ended up playing the character.”


Q: Is there in your opinion any positive aspect of aging?

JN: “Plenty. The main one is that it improves your character (laughs). I can’t do a lot of things, aging slows you down. So 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 – something about the number. But when this birthday came along I felt good about it.”


Q: What made you feel younger?

JN: “I don’t know. I mean why relate to a number anyway? I used to be very quick. I would be able to leave the room and be back before you noticed it. And when you can’t do that anymore you need to change your style of how you do things. But I’m very interested in life and you don’t want to lose that.”


Q: I read that you said that your children are the highlights of your life. Could you name another few highlights?

JN: “The first screening of Easy Rider in Cannes because I had been there before sneaking around. When I was sitting in the screening I knew enough about that audience and these things in general to realise that I was actually going to be a movie star. When I was over there I was pretty much already thinking about directing because I had been doing movies for already 10 to 12 years and everybody said I was good. But being known and not having a big film success is almost tougher than being completely new. It just kind of turned my life around and was definitely a highlight.”


Q: Do you ever get that same buzz now?

JN: “You know it’s kind of silly. It’s the medusa hat, you don’t look at it because it will paralyze you. When they say I’m a great actor, I close my ears because it’s not good for you to think that way.”


Q: But you seem very confident in every other part of your life…

JN: “Well, you know, I put on a good show.”


Q: Do you have any regrets in your life?

JN: “Not that I can think of, I’m sure there are, but my mind doesn’t go there. In life when you look at it retrospectively you rarely regret anything that you did, but you might regret things that you didn’t do. It puts me back in my childhood. I had two I thought it was sisters but they were actually aunts and they would ask me, ‘So Jackie do you want to  come to the movies?’ And I would say no. Then when they were gone I wanted to go to and regretted it.”


Q: What aspect of your personality do you like the most and what do you dislike?

JN: I’m good at overcoming my fears and I’m aware when I’m afraid and then I’m aware when I manage to neutralize it. It’s the same in a private conversation with me now. I never thought that I would be uncomfortable to make a pass at a women in public but this is another thing about aging. It doesn’t feel right I feel exposed in a way that I never did. That’s a fear I still have to overcome.”

The Bucket List is at Irish cinemas from Friday 15th