Jack Nicholson is much more than just another movie star. Casting Nicholson, the actor, is a compelling argument in favor of seeing a new film. His presence in almost any motion picture breaths life into the character he portrays. His eleven nominations and three Academy Awards are testimony to the respect Nicholson has earned from the Hollywood creative community.
Born John Joseph Nicholson, Jack's achievements are an inspiration to young people who are committed to building a creative career. Most aspiring artists will not see the recognition that has come to Nicholson, but all talented young people will face many of the same challenges. At the age of 17 Nicholson left his home in New Jersey to seek his fortune in Hollywood. His first job was as an office boy at the MGM (Metro-Goldwin-Mayer) film studio. Four years later he made his first screen appearance in the 1958 thriller The Cry Baby Killer.
Nicholson drew serious attention, and his first Academy Award nomination, with his portrayal of a burned out lawyer in 1969's Easy Rider. The very next year brought another Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a psychologically disaffected pianist in Five Easy Pieces. It was his appearance as an offbeat Los Angeles detective in 1974's Chinatown, with Hollywood legend John Houston, that made Jack one of America's best-known actors. It also brought him his third Oscar nomination. For many observers, the highpoint of Jack Nicholson's career came the following year with his portrayal of a mental patient in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. This motion picture also was the first time that Nicholson took home the Oscar for Best Actor. The film also received the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress and is considered one of the all time best American motion pictures. Cuckoo's Nest is number 20 in the American Film Institute's 100 Best Films in 100 Years; Chinatown in number 19 on the same list.