It’s been three years since Jack Nicholson’s last movie — The Bucket List, with Morgan Freeman — but the Hollywood icon wouldn’t exactly say he’s been missing a lot of work.
“I love it, not working,” Nicholson says. “I’m kind of a guy who likes to prove things. Everybody always said, ‘You couldn’t not work.’ Well, I’m kind of proving them wrong.”
His latest, How Do You Know, finds him playing Paul Rudd’s intimidating father, watching his son navigate a love triangle with Owen Wilson and Reese Witherspoon.
The movie re-teams Nicholson and writer-director James L. Brooks, who has twice directed to an Academy Award.
“He’s kind of close to me. It’s a privilege to work with Jim,” Nicholson says. “A couple Oscars didn’t hurt cementing the relationship. That’s how you know you’re in love.”
Just because they’re old friends doesn’t mean Brooks goes easy on the 73-year-old actor. In fact, Nicholson says, his old pal can be a bit tough sometimes.
“This crying scene I had with Paul [Rudd], I’m doing it like this and all of a sudden [James] comes running out from the back and he says, ‘I don’t think we want the grips laughing around the television set in the middle of a scene like this,’" Nicholson remembers.
“And I thought, ‘This is a comedy. I never had direction like this.’ Don’t make anybody laugh! I thought, ‘Jesus Christ.’ Then he forgot it! I told him this the other night, he forgot he did it. Somehow it’s inspiring.”
With nothing new on his agenda, Nicholson is looking forward to returning to his life of leisure.
“I like not working. I know that’s kind of hideous and blasphemous, but I really do,” he says. “And I think I’ve started to infect others of my young guys. I had a conversation with Leo [DiCaprio]. He said, ‘Geez, I love not working.’ I said, ‘See what I mean?’ I don’t want to infect him.”
So what keeps Nicholson busy if it’s not acting? “I just like getting up some time between 11 and one, which is not movie hours — unless you’re doing night movies,” he starts before listing off his current hobbies: “Play golf. I got a couple of kids in college, so I’m on the phone a lot. See my pals, chase women around. Not too much. Talk to my congressman, go to funerals.”
And what about going to the Staples Center, where Nicholson can regularly be seen sitting court-side, supporting the Los Angeles Lakers?
“That’s more of a job,” he says with a gruff laugh. “I have to be there.”