Jack Nicholson, the three-time Academy Award-winning actor, Hollywood legend and a man who has been in the industry for over 60 years, has an off-screen personality and reputation almost as iconic as the characters he portrays on camera.
Given the nickname the ‘Great Seducer’ for his unrelenting ability to charm almost any woman he so happened to come across, Nicholson’s free love spirit was regularly manifested during the actor’s infamous drug and sex-fuelled parties, which became the talk of Hollywood throughout the 1970s and ’80s.
When the party-loving actor was asked if he had any regrets in an interview back in 2011, Nicholson responded: “Not that I can think of. I’m sure there are some, but my mind doesn’t go there. When you look at life retrospectively, you rarely regret anything that you did, but you might regret things that you didn’t do.” It’s that free-spirited, ‘don’t look back at the bad times’ attitude that has seen the 83-year-old star continually live his life to the fullest.
Once described by talented actor Kim Basinger as “the most highly sexed individual I have ever met,” Nicholson has never shied away from speaking his mind… especially if that mind happens to be focusing on a female companion. Basinger’s opinion on Nicholson’s charm has been echoed by hundreds who have been in contact with the great casanova, even his close friend Cher confessed: “The thing about Jack is that he likes women more than any man I’ve ever known.”
Without going into too much detail about the sex drive of one of Hollywood’s most prestigious figures, Playboy model Karen Mayo-Chandler once offered an insight into Nicholson’s behaviour: “He’s a nonstop sex machine. He’s into fun and games… like spanking, handcuffs, whips and Polaroid pictures.” It’s a sentiment that rings around the more salacious corners of Hollywood.
It seems that in his heyday, no woman was safe from being wooed by the sweet-talking Hollywood poster boy: “It’s dangerous,” Nicholson’s longtime lover Anjelica Huston once said. “Because you can get what you want with charm, but it is devious.” It highlighted a sadder side to Nicholson’s ‘reputation’.
Nicholson himself has spoken very openly about areas of his private life that have seeped into the mainstream media: “I was very driven,” Nicholson said in an interview with Rolling Stone when speaking about his pursuit of women. “I remember being at least mentally sexually excited about things from childhood, even sooner than eight, in the bathtub. I mean, I had a large appetite.”
With all that in mind, considering the open bedroom door policy that the actor actively pursued, he did admit that he had, surrounded by countless chiselled bodies, felt “self-conscious about body image” which prompted an unusual decision to administer himself some “self-help” in order to overcome the issue.
Ever the method actor, journalist Erik Hedegaard wrote in a Rolling Stone feature: “In the late sixties, as a matter of self-help, he spent three months walking around in the nude, at all hours of the day, no matter who stopped by, his daughter included,” a strong move. Apparently, the naturist experiment was designed to help Nicholson get over his body self-consciousness ahead of a pivotal sex scene he was due to play in a then-upcoming film.
“I felt it was totally necessary,” Nicholson explained later in the same feature. “I’m self-conscious about body image. I don’t have a great body shot. And it was an era of ‘Let’s get free.’ I know it drove my oldest daughter insane. I just wanted to be more relaxed within my skin. But it didn’t totally resolve all that, like many experiments you think you’ve concluded on yourself but you haven’t really.”
Shortly after that three months of long naked summer days, Nicholson began working on his direction debut Drive, He Said in the early 1970s. The film became controversial for its depictions of sex and drug use and male frontal nudity. According to a biography about Nicholson entitled Five Easy Decades, during Nicholson’s naked three month period, the actor would be happy to arrange meetings at his home with producer Roger Corman yet still refuse to wear any clothing — a move which could have quite easily influenced the film.
“The book reports that in the early ’70s, Jack became obsessed with nudity. He even sat buck naked for interviews for the movie ‘Drive, He Said,’” the biography states.