When was the last time you saw a new Jack Nicholson movie? If you were one of the few to see his last theatrical release, How Do You Know written and directed by James L. Brooks starring Jack alongside Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, and Reese Witherspoon, it probably wasn’t a crowded theater. In fact, if I was asked that during a trivia contest, I would have certainly failed. So where has Jack been for the last 10 years?
Jack’s last memorable film was the Bucket List directed by Rob Reiner and co-starring Morgan Freeman. This was a touching movie about two terminally ill cancer patients who meet in the hospital cancer ward. Despite their different backgrounds and lifestyles they agree to skip out of the hospital and do things they have always dreamed of doing instead of waiting around to die. As I waited patiently for Jack’s next film, it never arrived. Was Jack sick? Tired of acting? Was he coaching the Lakers? Did he do the R-thing? I’m referring to retirement.
Jack is one of the most decorated actors alive with a record three Oscars and despite a bit of makeup in his later films, he’s only 80 years old. Think about Clint Eastwood who is over a decade older and still not only acting, but directing (Cry Macho). By comparison, Jack is a young lad. Although Clint’s last few films haven’t set the box office on fire, he has made some touching films and I never seem to leave the theater disappointed. Clint has always said he would never retire, since he doesn’t think of acting and directing as “work”, but something he loves to do. He said they’ll likely tell him when to go (referring to box office numbers).
Jack reminds me of Gene Hackman another one of the greatest actors of all time. One day I’m laughing while watching Hackman play the patriarch of the Tenenbaum family in The Royal Tenenbaums and a couple years later he was retired from movies. Of course, it wasn’t like he was just hanging out on the beach. At 92 years young, Hackman has written three novels and deserves to kick back. Last asked if he would come out of retirement Hackman responded ” I don’t know. If I could do it in my own house, maybe, without them disturbing anything and just one or two people.” I think that means no.
Most recently two-time Oscar winner Joe Pesci came out of retirement in 2019 to play Russell Bufalino in the film The Irishman. This was one of the first blockbuster films to premiere on Netflix (which paid a ton for the rights) before being released in theaters. Directed by Martin Scorsese, The Irishman stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, and Ray Romano. Although fans gave it mixed reviews (mostly because of the length at 3hr 29min) critics praised the film which has a Metascore of 94 on IMBD as of the writing of this blog. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and believe if it had a normal release and was edited for theaters Pesci would have won another Oscar.
Back to my original question Where’s Johnny? I did a bit of research and discovered that indeed the guy who played RP McMurphy is listed as retired, but here’s the great news. It appears I picked the right time to check, because Jack is allegedly coming out of retirement, and we will hopefully get at least one more opportunity to see him on the big screen. After 10 years, the film tempting Jack to come out of retirement has previously been nominated for best foreign language film in 2016 entitled Toni Erdmann. To say this is going to be a challenge is an understatement. The original is a beloved film, and most are already saying leave well enough alone. However, I’m excited at the prospect of seeing Jack in a remake of the German film about a divorced dad trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter. Little did I know I would find an answer to my question. Thanks Jack, you are our number one guy!