MEAL TIME Will Breakfast of Champions ever be served? Disney originally scheduled director Alan Rudolph's year-old adaptation of the 1973 Kurt Vonnegut novel for the spring and then pulled it, leading to speculation that the estimated $11 million film-which stars and was financed in part by Bruce Willis-is a dog. "The movie Is like having a blinding light in your living room rug," says Rudolph, who was recently shown a trailer and poster and is hoping for a fall release. "Certain people will think it's radioactive and others will think it's cool. It's frustrating, because I know we have something that people will be talking about." A studio spokesperson says that Disney is "just looking to find the right niche for its release" But costar Nick Nolte, who says he's seen the film four or five times, is disappointed with the delay. "Disney assured me that they will get behind this film he says. "But I've got my own paranoia about large studios releasing small films." ``````````````````````` Bella! Bella! People Weekly; New York; Apr 5, 1999
Some things could not be forgotten-or forgiven. While the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to director Elia Kazan (On the Waterfront)-still reviled in some quarters for having named eight former colleagues as Communists during 1952's House Un-American Activities Committee hearings-didn't disrupt the proceedings as some had feared, audience members displayed their feelings. While many gave the 89-year-old Kazan a standing, if subdued, ovation, Nick Nolte, Ed Harris and scores of others remained seated and stony-faced. ````````````````````` Their next big things Entertainment Weekly; New York; Apr 2, 1999
Nick Nolte has two prestigious adaptations on tap: First he'll star as a crossdressing car salesman opposite Bruce Willis in the bigscreen version of Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions; then he'll appear with Jeff Bridges in Sam Shepard's horse-racing drama Simpatico. ``````````````````` Vicki pushes it Joe Weider's Shape; Woodland Hills; Apr 1999
It's not often that a movie pays off for an actor in as many ways as the upcoming "Pushing Tin" did for Vicki Lewis. While the 37-year-old redhead has already impressed Broadway audiences in "Damn Yankees" and established her sitcom credentials as Beth, the wisecracking secretary on NBC's "NewsRadio," she's still somewhat new to the big screen. So there she was, in only her third feature film, working with such gifted co-stars as John Cusack and Oscar-winner Billy Bob Thornton. "It was an actor's dream," she says.
In "Pushing Tin," Lewis plays Tina Leary, an air traffic controller and competitive bodybuilder. The 5-foot-1-inch, 93-pound Lewis soon discovered that it takes a special kind of performer to come out flexing. "I had to do the whole competition routine in high-cut leopard print shorts and a midriff top. I'd wake up worrying: How many days until I have to wear that outfit?" she says. And her competition shape in "Pushing Tin" didn't develop without a lot of hard work. She and her trainer, Lisa Dulovic, Miss Fitness Canada 1997, were in the gym pumping iron at odd hours before, during and after Lewis' 18-hour days on the set.
None of this daunted ex-dancer Lewis, and she now appreciates the lure of competitive bodybuilding. "I became addicted to the feeling. You can feel a different kind of strength come from the inside."
To maintain her newly sculpted body, Lewis works out three days a week in the gym at her Malibu, Calif., home. In perhaps the best payoff of all, her "Pushing Tin" role brought Lewis and the man in her life, actor Nick Nolte, a little closer. "Nick's done weights for years," she says. "We share tips and now speak the same language in the workout room." Ah, yes, the couple that lifts together ... well, you get the picture. -Ed Dwyer `````````````````````````` Acting on impulse Premiere; New York; Apr 1999
EVERYTHING'S ABOUT MONEY, BUT MORE SO THAN IT HAS EVER been! It just presents this big no across the face of it. . . . `No, you cannot do what you want to do. No, you cannot follow a vision of your own. No, you cannot work in the film industry without doing what we want you to do.' " Nick Nolte-voice aspirated and raspy (it sounds as if he smoked about ten packs of cigarettes before breakfast), fingers compulsively running through his wispy blond hair as if he were trying to soothe himselfis holding forth on the evils of the big studios. He's displaying on the one hand the raw passion of a subversive Sundancer, and on the other all the gravitas of a 58-year-old veteran actor who has just walked away from a $6 million or so paycheck. For Nolte has done what few, if any, of the prominent actors of his generation have dared to do: He returned the studios' no's with one of his own.
Three years ago, after a string of glossy studio pictures that included I Love Trouble, Blue Chips, and Mulholland Falls-all box office bombs of varying and debatable artistic merit-Nolte says he "just decided to return to the way I used to work, which was material first. I got tired of monetary considerations weighing into my choice. I got tired of the idea of success weighing into my choice. It just became extremely restrictive to think that way. If I go broke, fine. I can sell this house." The Malibu home-which he shares with Vicki Lewis of NewsRadio-is comfortably haute Hollywood, with gigantic candles, an elaborate Italianate tableau painted on the ceiling, and plush couches and banquettes in deep reds and greens. Stretched out on one of those couches, clad in worn and faded red surfer pajamas and a ripped blue sweatshirt, the long-limbed Nolte seems as relaxed as anyone so intense can be. His face retains a preternatural Nebraska farmboyishness, save for when he's looking down, which brings an elaborate set of wrinkles rushing to the fore.
It's not every actor who has it all in terms of visibility, stardom, and bankability, and then opts to go the Harvey Keitel route; but Nolte seems serious about and relieved by the decision. His choice appears to have freed him from the self-imposed tyranny of stardom. He has a whole new way of working now. "I don't have stop dates, begin dates, hair and makeup people, or assistants, or any of that. [Those things can be] a great hindrance. With assistants . . . you end up telling them all the time how to assist you; you usually end up with your emotional life in their hands. Hair and makeup: You find that it insulates and isolates you from the crew, and you usually develop these relationships just because you're frightened, so you never face your own fear. And entourages are the same thing, ditto-fear. You don't learn how to do dishes. Everything is done for you. It's not good."
What is good-very good-is the work that Nolte has been doing since he turned his back on the system. His portrayal of the vainglorious but internally conflicted Colonel Tall in Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line is one of the most praised aspects of that much-lauded film. And his searing performance as the paranoid small-town lawman Wade Whitehouse in Paul Schrader's Affliction garnered Nolte multiple critic's awards as well as a Best Actor Academy Award nomination (an honor he's received once before, for his work in 1991's The Prince of Tides).
Nolte is a far cry from the hellion who taunted and toyed with the media in the past, the hard-partying rowdy who reportedly once welcomed a journalist to a decimated hotel room, gun and six-pack in hand. Nolte used to take perverse pleasure in feeding b.s. to writers, bragging to GQ about a testicle tuck, and to other reporters about his first wife's having been a carnival or circus performer. A legend circulated that he hadn't learned to read until he was in his twenties.
The thrice-married actor quit drinking several years ago; he's still struggling with his cigarette habit. But certain kinds of attention still make Nolte uneasy, and his own competitive drive unnerves him. Despite an intense likability that he carries around like an old blanket, Nolte isn't one of those reformed lushes who seem to have miraculously shed their shadows and emerged with psyches intact. He's apparently reconciled himself to what seems to be a natural state of discomfort. "In the big leagues of life, one of the toughest tricks is to get sober and not carry with it an ounce of self-righteousness," says James L. Brooks, who directed Nolte in I7l Do Anything. "And I think that's what he's done. He's a deeply good guy, a deeply good guy."
SEVERAL YEARS AGO, Nolte said no to a part that, after he eventually accepted it, would go on to be hailed as one of the best of his career. Affliction's writer-director Paul Schrader recalls that "[Nolte] was getting $5 million to $6 million a picture, and he wanted me to try to get him that kind of money for this. Even though I didn't think I could, I said I'd try. I tried. It took a number of years before he changed his attitude toward his career, and he came to the realization that if he was ever going to play this part, it would be at a reduced salary." After suffering what he has described as a "heart murmur," which he says was caused by working on too many bad movies, Nolte did an about-face and personally helped Schrader raise the money. Yet Nolte says his reluctance toward the Affliction role was never truly monetary, but psychological: He was resistant to the true nature of the part. "I didn't understand that the original source of violence is us, that killing is us. We are the killers. I still wanted to consider myself as one of the good people." By violence, Nolte isn't just talking about murder, but about the dog-eat-dog ethos that corrodes and dominates our culture (and especially Hollywood). "Our society's built on competition and making a dollar, and you're not trying to just beat the competition in a light, fun way. You're really trying to destroy the other person utterly. You're really trying to kill them. It is violence. The whole nature of our culture is violence."
A conversation with Nolte can quickly turn philosophical, metaphysical, or scientific. His role in 1992's Lorenzo's Oil, as a desperate father who searches for a cure for his dying son, sparked in him a passion for medical breakthroughs. "I hang out with mostly doctors and scientists now," he explains. "I go to a lot of cancer conferences or, say, the American Medical Association Anti-Aging conference. I'll go to a hormonal-deficiency conference, an infectious-disease conference." Indeed, he and Thin Red Line director Terrence Malick bonded over their mutual interest in the healing powers of hyperbolic oxygen tanks. In the corner of Nolte's living room a small white box-an oxygen ionizer-whirs.
EVEN AS A CHILD, Nolte was at war with the predominant culture, then in the throes of the conservative 1950s Cold War hysteria. He was born in 1941, in Omaha, Nebraska, to the strikingly beautiful Helen King and her husband, Frank Nolte, an engineer-turned-traveling salesman. Nolte says he's never lost the sensation of being the shy kid "in the back of the class," who even then thought to himself, "This place is screwed up." His sense of alienation was perhaps deepened when, at the age of ten, as he was jumping from one rooftop to another, he missed his target and impaled himself in the groin on a white picket fence, an injury that would cause him great embarrassment among his peers. But it just as surely fueled his prodigious athletic ambition. He dreamed of becoming a professional football player, but paid so much attention to the sport that he ignored his studies and flunked out of five colleges in four years, along the way earning a felony conviction for selling fake draft cards to underage kids, who used them as IDs.
When Nolte was 23, a friend persuaded him to try theater, and he became involved with the Pasadena Playhouse. It saved him. "I was basically uncomfortable with life, and needed to find a place that I could put myself," says Nolte. "I just had trouble with convention. I had trouble with secrecy. I had trouble with distrust, trouble with competition.
"I needed a place where I could feel at home, and that's what the stage was for me. So it was out of survival that I ended up . . . I just knew at that period of time . . . I saw a play, and I said, `I'm feeling so shitty about life, and this play is discussing it, and it's dealing with those issues. You can not only see it, read it, but you can be in it! What a wonderful thing. I feel like that character there. I can go up on the stage and work through those feelings.' If I show them in real life, people say, `Don't do that. Don't let your opponent know you're weak.' We're so frightened of showing weakness or vulnerability in this society that we're all bluff. It's like being at a country club. They all tell jokes, and that's the way most of society operates."
He spent fourteen years performing in regional theater, mostly across the Southwest, before being cast as the rogue Tom Jordache in the landmark miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man, a career-making part that earned him 2,000 fan letters a month. From the beginning, he was ambivalent about the allure of popular entertainment; he spent nearly two years repeatedly turning down the hunk-making role in The Deep, but finally succumbed after failing to land roles in Apocalypse Now and William Friedkin's Sorcerer. He turned down the part of Superman, saying he would do it only if he could play the Man of Steel as a schizophrenic.
Finally, director Karel Reisz saved him from an incipient career as a sex symbol by casting him as a Vietnam vet so enraged by the insanity of the war that he agrees to smuggle heroin into the United States, in the little-seen but riveting Who Will Stop the Rain, a film of novelist Robert Stone's Dog Soldiers. He followed up that role by working out ferociously for several months, then letting his body degenerate to total flab, to play a druggie football player being beaten down by the system of corrupt corporate ownership and sadistic coaches in North Dallas Forty, one of the most antiauthoritarian sports movies ever made.
From the beginning, Nolte was one of those actors adrenalized by the theater of the living. He heaves himself into character, a junkie for experience, for the escape of otherness. "There is no distinction, truly. The breath here is the same as the breath over there," he explains. "It's just a little more heightened state of existence."
To observe Nolte on the set of The Thin Red Line was to witness exactly what he means. It was hard to differentiate between Nolte the man and Nolte the actor, as he stomped around the Australian rain forest with all the brash swagger of his character, Colonel Tall. At times, Nolte zeroed in on his performance with the intensity of a violinist mastering a symphony; at other times, he badgered his young costars like an officer baiting his troops. To play the sadistic cop in Q&'A, he wore five-inch heels that pitched him forward, gained 50 pounds, and spent his nights cruising his character's watering holes in New York City's Hell's Kitchen. To play a homeless man in the career-remaking Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Nolte quit bathing for several months.
"Sometimes you don't want to wash the character off that day. There's a certain kind of feeling that you get from a certain amount of dirt. It's very difficult to go in and take a shower and scrub yourself absolutely clean, and then go in and put on fake dirt and pretend that you've been sleeping outside. You're not physically in touch with it, you're not emotionally in touch with it. You don't know what it's like to wake up with the sun in your face. All of that you would have to pretend, so . . so if you're going to play a character like that, I think one of the best things is to get a little dirty and sleep outside!" Barbra Streisand, who directed and costarred with Nolte in The Prince of Tides, clearly approves of Nolte's nocompromise method. "Nick approaches a role with raw ferocity, with no concern of how he can get the audience to like him," she says. "That's very admirable. Underneath, Nick is very complex-full of pain, anger, sweetness, and enormous vulnerability."
After Beverly Hills, then-Disney studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg recommended Nolte to Martin Scorsese to play the leonine, omnivorous painter Lionel Dobie in "Life Lessons," the director's segment of the New York Stories trilogy. A protean talent, Dobie feeds his art through a tortured, unfulfilling relationship with his assistant (Rosanna Arquette), who doesn't want to sleep with him.
"You ever read Freud's dissertation on an artist?" Nolte asks, and then explains: "An artist has to do what he does in such a way that the audience will not recognize his true motives. Dobie's trying to keep the instincts alive. He doesn't necessarily want to complete the acts. Sexual tension he wants to extend."
Scorsese didn't spend hours hashing out the characters with Nolte for either "Life Lessons" or their next movie together, Cape Fear, the tale of a genteel Southern lawyer and his family's being hounded by one of his former clients (Robert De Niro), a psychopath; the latter believes Nolte's lawyer sold him out. "[Scorsese] doesn't really direct. He elicits more. Many said, 'I have no idea what a Southern lawyer is. You'll have to figure that out,' and laughed and hung up the phone," recalls Nolte, who spent months combing the Southern courtrooms to discover an appropriate lawyer model. After Nolte had finished his research, Scorsese gave him a biblical reference: "All Marty would say to me would be, `Job. Think Job.' "It's often been said that the actor probably dies several hundred more times than the average person," Nolte continues. He refers to a study in which the levels of adrenaline and cortisol in actors after a stage performance of grief were compared with those of people undergoing real bereavement. "The adrenaline levels were extremely high in actors. In fact, high enough that if you put that much adrenaline in an average person, it would kill them." By contrast, the cortisol levels, a measurement of stress, were very low, especially compared with those of the mourners. "[The doctors'] conclusion was that the actor onstage got through the process of grief, went through actual grief, but with very low denial. But in actual life we stay in the denial for so long, which is why we stay in grief stress for a long time. It's not the grief itself; it's the denial of the grief."
For Nolte, denial is the driving force of his Affliction character, Wade Whitehouse."Wade functions by denial," Nolte says. "His denial is that he's wrong or that he's stupid or that he's clumsy. He denies that he's a killer. He desperately wants to see himself as a good man, and he denies that he doesn't want to harbor love, and why should he? He was never loved. You're taught that."
"Nick lives through the character," says Schrader, who recalls that Nolte showed up for rehearsals with a batch of notebooks-one notebook for each character in the film, with each journal clearly delineating Wade's relationship to that character. "In rehearsals-my wife, Mary Beth Hurt, plays [Wade's] exwife-Mary Beth asks me something, and I'm saying, `I'm not quite sure.' He opens up his notebook [and says], `In the novel it says this on such-and-such page, and I was thinking . . .' In some ways he's kind of ghost-directing all of the performances.
"He had that doorway to walk into this character. I saw the results, but I never saw the process," Schrader continues. "He did say that one of the hard things would be not drinking. Normally, when he played a role like this, he'd just drink all the way through it, but here he played a guy who's drinking all the time, and he wasn't going to drink."
Nolte the man has fought to transcend the demons posed by Wade Whitehouse. Whitehouse's attempts to do good are so fumbling, they only serve to deal his doom; as for Nolte himself, his desire not to extend the pain caused by certain personal situations has led him to seek out some unusual solutions. When his third marriage split up, he opted to use a psychiatrist rather than a lawyer to negotiate a settlement. "It wasn't easy. All [the lawyers] wanted the case, so they were all whispering in my ear, `No, you don't have to give her that.' Or they'd say to her, `You can get part of his money for the rest of his life.' They were all whispering back and forth. [But] the psychiatrist would say, `You-you leave the room, I'm going to talk to you.' And so you'd sit there and talk. `Where does this come from? Well, why do you want that? What purpose does it serve?' It was very painful." It did, however, save him "a good $2 million" in lawyer's fees, according to Nolte.
Afterward, he went to see a child psychiatrist about how to handle the effects of the divorce on his son, Brawley King, born in 1986. The rugged features of Nolte's face visibly soften when he discusses his child; it is the one moment when his wariness drops and pleasure shines through.
Nolte will leave an inheritance for Brawley-not one of cruelty, but of art. In 1996, Brawley played Mel Gibson's kidnapped son in Ransom. "It's his choice entirely," says Nolte. "Whatever he wants to do. Now, lately, he doesn't want to act anymore. He said, `There's one thing about it: You get a lot of friends you don't want.' After Ransom came out, he was allowed to join every clique [at his school], and it confused him. He didn't understand why these people hated him before and now like him."
Nolte came to Brawley's aid in Ransom's first few days of rehearsal. A worried Ron Howard had asked Nolte if he thought Brawley really understood the ramifications of the part-that of a boy who's held blindfolded in a small room, his life constantly imperiled, liable to end at any time. Nolte said, "Let's find out." "I asked him, `Do you really understand what it would possibly feel like to be kidnapped? That you'd never see your mother ever again, or your father?' And Brawley said, 'I think so.' And I said, `Do you think you could get yourself into that kind of a state now?' And he said, `Well, okay, let me try.' And he laid down and closed his eyes, and I was talking to him about the different states, the different specifics, you know, so he did some of this fake crying.
"And I said, `Brawley, that's not real.' Then he broke, and he said, 'I feel uncomfortable with all those people out there.' And I said, `Well, let me tell you right now, every crew member and everybody who's out there is out there to help you do the best job you can do. Everybody is there for you. It's not the reverse. You're not there for them. They're there for you.' So Brawley lay down, and then I started to say, `Okay, Brawley, let's work up the circumstance.' And so I started to go, and Brawley said, `Wait a minute, Dad.' And he was lying there, and all of the sudden his eyes just welled up and tears started flooding down his face and he couldn't really stop."
Afterward, Howard was excited and relieved, and Nolte proud and respectful. As father and son walked down the hall, Nolte remembers, "Brawley said to me, `Do you want to know what I used?' And I said, `No. That's your secret.' " `````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````` A mellower Nick Nolte all the rage onscreen
By Larry Ratliff Special to the Express-News Tuesday, Jan 12,1999
LOS ANGELES — Nick Nolte doesn't wear his pajamas to interviews anymore.
Ironically, one of Hollywood's most notorious bad boys is settling down at a time when he's basking in critical acclaim for his displays of rage in Terrence Malick's World War II epic "The Thin Red Line" and Paul Schrader's searing family drama "Affliction."
March 19, 1999
JUST SAY NOLTE
After a brilliant and sometimes stormy 25 years in Hollywood, the star of 'Affliction' is ready for the next small thing.
by Dave Karger
Four in an hour?" says 12-year-old Brawley Nolte, pointing to a plate holding three American Spirit cigarette butts and one still burning.
"I'll put it out, okay?" says his dad, Nick Nolte, adding that he's picked up the smokes only within the last few weeks. "All right, it's out now."
"The deal was zero in a month," Brawley scolds, then wanders away.
Warning: Oscar nominations may be hazardous to your health.
"The cigarettes are because of all these events," groans Nolte, a Best Actor contender for his performance as a violent, deeply troubled New England sheriff in Affliction. "They're nonstop. There's one Sunday, then a lunch Monday, then the Independent Spirit Awards, and then the Academies."
Forgive him if he sounds like he's seen it all. In a 25-year roller-coaster career (see filmography on page 56), Nolte has looked at Hollywood from almost every imaginable perspective: sex symbol, blockbuster star, has-been, critical darling. And his private life has been no less tumultuous. In 1962, the Omaha native was convicted on a felony charge for selling fake draft cards (and given five years' probation); he pretty much drank his way through the 1980s; and he's weathered three divorces. "It's always been a battle," he sighs.
And yet today, two weeks before said Academies, as he putters around his Malibu house in a faded blue shirt, purple pajama bottoms, and tattered slippers, Nolte seems to be living in a truce. His homelife, which he shares with his girlfriend of more than five years, Vicki Lewis of NBC's NewsRadio, seems relatively quiet. As for his career, it's, well, smokin'--thanks to Nolte's own decision to concentrate less on big-money gigs and more on small films like Affliction, a movie that Nolte himself executive-produced. "It's not about the movie business for him now," says Sissy Spacek, his costar in both Affliction and the 1980 drama Heart Beat. "He's been there and he's done that."
Directed by Paul Schrader and adapted from Russell Banks' bleak novel, Affliction was actually shot two years ago. "Everybody who saw it at Telluride and Sundance passed," recalls Nolte. "Sony Pictures Classics had a little dabble at it but got spooked off it. Some of 'em would pat you on the knee and say, 'Good luck with this.'" Eventually, Lions Gate Films bought the drama and opened it last December, five days after The Thin Red Line, in which Nolte's turn as raging Lieut. Col. Gordon Tall was the standout of a star-studded cast.
Two strong performances in the same season, one of them a potential Academy Award winner--is this ringing any bells? In 1992, Nolte scored a Best Actor nomination for The Prince of Tides, which was released six weeks after his stoic showing opposite Robert De Niro in Cape Fear. While the statue went to Anthony Hopkins for The Silence of the Lambs, the recognition boosted Nolte's salary--but the fat paychecks led to profoundly unsatisfying projects like 1994's Blue Chips and I Love Trouble. It was then, says Nolte, that he decided to go indie. "It's kind of a reconnection for me," he says of his recent work, though he realizes that films with their hands on their hearts rather than their wallets come with a price. "I'm just not going to play in those huge salaries anymore--you don't need 15 Mercedes, do you?" he says. "I've already got it on paper that I need to declare bankruptcy!"
But he'll worry about that later. Until March 21, Nolte's got his own plan for Oscar-season survival: "I garden and take care of my son and Vicki. And that's it."
Which should leave plenty of time for smoking. ```````````````````````````````````
June 22, 1990
NICK NOLTE: WORKING OVERTIME
by Gregg Kilday
As Jack Cates, an unmade bed of a cop, Nick Nolte looks right at home in Another 48 HRS. But compared to the dangerous, and frequently dazzling, career moves he has made in recent years, returning to the role he created eight years earlier was a departure for the hardworking 48-year-old actor.
"It's an action picture. You get the sh-- knocked out of you," he says. "Everything gets banged around. I think (Gene) Hackman said the best thing about action-picture acting. You have to be careful how deeply you get into the character, because action pictures, whether or not they're based on reality, they're not real. If you've worked yourself too deeply into the reality of the character, you're not going to be able to shoot the gun fifteen times."
Still, given his notorious penchant for detailed character work-for Down and Out in Beverly Hills he lived as a bum, for Farewell to the King he hid out in the jungle-Nolte could not resist developing a rationale for his cop character's fanatical pursuit of a drug dealer. While waiting for filming to begin, Nolte recalls that he "dug through the history of the law in America. Before there was an established police force, problems were dealt with by dueling and whoever won the duel was right. So there's a tad of Jack Cates, the duelist. The one who walks away is right."
Director Walter Hill appraises the distance his friend Nolte has traveled between 48 HRS. and its sequel. "We all have a better idea of who Nick is now than we did in, say, 1982. He's evolved into a kind of character lead. He's a formidable actor to be reckoned with."
With the exception of the waterlogged The Deep (1977), made soon after his breakthrough performance as the boxer- brother in the 1976 TV miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man, Nolte has always shied away from pretty-boy roles. But it wasn't until he began rooting about in the garbage cans of the rich and famous in 1986's Down and Out in Beverly Hills that he threw off all the restraints of the heroic, sometimes antiheroic, leading man for grizzlier, more unpredictable parts.
Since then, he's been working virtually nonstop, playing a put-upon bank robber in Three Fugitives, an obsessive SoHo artist in New York Stories, a World War II deserter gone native in Farewell to the King, a driven private investigator in Everybody Wins, and, most daringly, a brutish New York City cop, the very embodiment of clannish racism and irredeemable evil, in Q&A, this year's first full-fledged Oscar-caliber performance.
Nolte himself describes the transformation he's undergone in recent years as a matter of getting back to basics. "I finally drummed into my head that I really had to get back to the way I'd operated when I was in theater, why I was in this whole acting thing to begin with," he says. "It was always to get to the stories that I felt I wanted to tell."
In the case of Q&A, he explains, he was fascinated "by the whole subject of racism and ethnic loyalty. I think it's a part of this country's makeup. I was very pleased with the film." For his next project, the film adaptation of Pat Conroy's novel The Prince of Tides, he was attracted to the character of Tom Wingo, a Southern high-school football coach, because he's "a man who has to deal with the women in his life."
Speaking recently from Beaufort, S. C., where he's currently rehearsing Tides under Barbra Streisand's direction, Nolte adds, "There's a period in an actor's life where he's influenced by the studios, the public, the critics and begins to think he's got to make decisions based on other things than his insides. So I just returned to the insides, and because I did that I'm going nonstop." ```````````````````````````````````````````````````` Premiere magazine articles Beating Success By Fred Cohn
With two critically acclaimed movies, Affliction and The Thin Red Line, out at the same time, Nick Nolte is a sure bet for a 1998 Best Actor Academy Award nomination. But ironically, the veteran film star claims that he dislikes awards, and thinks they have a corrosive effect on his profession. A further irony: he almost decided not to make these films, and in fact at one point even backed out of his commitment to Affliction. Nolte talked to Premiere Online about Affliction, his career and the Bitch Goddess, success.
Premiere Online: What's the genesis of your involvement with Affliction?
Nick Nolte: [Director] Paul [Schrader] came to me years ago with the project. I was ready to do it at the very beginning , then a year or so went by, and I just couldn't get up for it. When he found financing, I said "Paul, I'm not ready to do it." So Paul was quite depressed and angry, because the money fell out, and he thought that was the end of it.
PO: Why didn't you want to do it at that point?
Nolte: It was partly because I was chasing something different. I had become involved, after Prince of Tides, in making some big commercial pictures. It had happened to me many times: coming under the malaise of success. When that happens, you'll see an actor make a series of bad decisions and bad films -- and they make a heck of a lot of money.
PO: I'm surprised: When Prince of Tides came out, you'd already been in the public eye a long while. Why was its success so disorienting?
Nolte: The success is the difficult part. The pitch is that you do those big films, so then you can get free to do your other films -- but it doesn't work that way. The problem is, you do those films, you never get back to freedom -- unless you recognize that you have lost it. I was making creative choices that allowed me freedom, rather than making choices that were about money and career - which is the opposite of freedom.
PO:How did you eventually escape that trap?
Nolte: I had finally had enough of this course that I was going down. I had become quite despondent and depressed. And as soon as I realized that I had done this to myself, I immediately knew that I should do Affliction. I did Mother Night, Afterglow, Affliction and Thin Red Line. These are all independent films, all six million dollar films -- outside of Thin Red Line, which is like an independent, because nobody got big salaries.
One day, we were shooting at night, and it was Paul, his wife and myself. We had a break in filming and we were in this nice little restaurant, eating some spaghetti. And Paul was bemoaning the fact that he wasn't getting studio offers. And I said "Jesus, don't you get it? It never is going to get any better than it is right now. Here we have a great novel, a great adaptation. You're the director. You have good actors. Nobody's telling you how to make this movie. We go in and do a scene, and we can do it any way we want. It just isn't going to get any better!"
You have to recognize that the joy of your work is in the process, and not in these little aftereffects of glory -- like nominations, like success at the box office, like critical praise. Those are something that the artist has no control over whatsoever. When you get to the point where it becomes all about those, you've lost the focus of your work. I claim the only thing that the actor or the film maker should go in for any kind of self aggrandizement after the process is through, is the screening for friends and people that have made the film. That's the only screening that you should allow yourself to pat your own back on.
The rest, you have no control over, and you really should go to Europe. You should not be around when the film is released. You certainly shouldn't go to any awards. You should never pick up awards. I think awards probably are the most detrimental to anybody's career of all, because they're really such a false hype. The actor has a very difficult time ever coming back from that.
PO: Did you go to the Oscars when you were nominated for The Prince of Tides?
Nolte: I did. I always claimed I wouldn't, I caved in at the last minute like the coward that I am. If you go through the careers of actors that got the award, you will look at their work afterwards, and you see it never stacks up. Because there's something psychologically that ends. You know, you shouldn't take the accolades any more than you should accept the criticism. Because if you do, then you've sold yourself to success.
That's why success is the biggest danger in the industry of all. Young film makers come to Sundance, bring in their unique voice. Then a big Hollywood studio comes in, buys that kid, and boom! -- you never hear that voice again. You never hear it again.
(continued)Premiere Online: Was it also hard to deal with the upsetting subject matter of Affliction?
Nick Nolte: I probably had to be at a place where I was really comfortable with myself. I could not be afflicted myself, I could not be doing the film wishing I was doing something else. I really had to be at peace doing the film. I needed to be in a place artistically, creatively, where I felt I had my will back.
PO:How'd you prepare for the role? Did the family violence relate to elements of your own life?
Nolte: Okay. In the novel [Affliction, writer] Russell Banks shows the tradition of family violence clear back to the Neanderthals. He says, this is the state of the relationship between father and son. This is what competition is about. This is what success is about. This is what America is about. We are competing with one another, trying to climb on top of the pile, and that's really violent.
That violence is internal. You really don't have to be beaten as a child. For me personally, growing up in the Fifties, seeing that adults had secrets, that they competed against one another, and that they were literally forced into a kind of conformity attitude - it scared the living shit out of me. From the time I was a tiny baby on, I didn't trust any of the world. I had enough fear and pain in my life as a child, scariness -- just because the world is scary in its competition -- to be able to understand what Russell Banks was talking about.
PO: How did you first articulate that to yourself?
Nolte: It came out first in the form of rebellion -- striking back at society. And why was I so angry? I had been taught to beat my fellow man. Why was it that in order for me to succeed, I had to climb on top of the rest? Why was it that I had to take relationships that were close relationships and in order to succeed, put them secondary? And once I got over the top, couldn't have that relationship again?
PO: Do you worry that Affliction is so dark that it won't get seen?
Nolte: No, I can guarantee that it will get seen. Yeah, it won't get seen in the sense of big Hollywood numbers. But this film will still be on the shelves ten years from now. Look at a film like Raging Bull. That's still on the shelves. Twenty years from now, you're going to pull Raging Bull out, put it in and watch it. But you're not going to pull out Lethal Weapon.
If you look at the films this year that have been great successes and made the most money -- they're thrill rides. They titillate, and they're geared for a very young audience, the broadest audience possible. So there isn't much substance to them.
PO: So do you choose projects now thinking 'Where is this movie going to be ten years from now?'
Nolte: No. That criterion just comes through because there's a few people that make movies based on their own internal passions, and those are the projects I'm drawn to. It's a matter of instinct. I would really like to get to a state -- if I could, and I can't yet! - to just do the work for free! And then you would really find out if you loved your work. Of course, considering what the salaries are -- I'm almost doing it for free! ```````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````` From an article on "The Thin Red Line":
Behind those sunglasses, no one knows how you're reacting to anything," Nick Nolte says to John Cusack, needling him about his dark shades. They are rehearsing a Thin Red Line scene in which Nolte, as Colonel Tall, and Cusack, as Captain Gaff, stride across a scorched-earth ravine, where fire and war have reduced the lush vegetation to skeletal black twigs. Nolte marches a victor's march, purposeful and elated over the company's push up the hill. Behind him trail Cusack and 50 or so other actors, a mixture of men from Company C, ragged Japanese POWs, and Australian extras playing U.S. soldiers.
In the script, Malick describes Tall as "stupid, ambitious, desperate to succeed before his superiors, and fearful the battalion will be pulled back off the line before he can," which is why he ordered his soldiers into a deadly frontal attack on the hill. Still, Tall brims with a bullheaded energy that invigorates the troops. And Nolte, as he stomps around the set, twirling Tall's baton in one hand, trails energy like a comet, enlivening almost everyone with whom he comes into contact.
He teases Cusack again, saying, "What if you walked around like this," grabbing his crotch in demonstration. Gaff is Tall's obedient aide-de-camp; it's hard to imagine that a star of Cusack's magnitude would have taken such an unnoteworthy role for anyone except Malick, and easy to wonder if he regrets the decision. The actor didn't want to come to work today because of the vestiges of a bug, and he veers uneasily between unspoken recalcitrance and seeking the approval of Nolte and Malick.
"Once I start laughing, you stop," Nolte yells back to the extras behind him. He's being followed by a Steadicam and a dolly, and ends up facing off with Gaff, who, for the first time, is challenging Tall's authority by requesting water for the dehydrated men. Tall initially tries to dismiss the request, saying, "If some of the men pass out, they'll just have to pass out."
After the next take, Malick tells Nolte, "I think you got it." But Nolte isn't convinced. "It felt static to me," he says. "Did it feel static to you? I need to be moving about."
While Nolte and Cusack rehearse their scene again, Malick reorganizes the background with cinematographer Toll and military advisor Mike Stokey. "We want to see people's expressions," Malick says, picking out faces to showcase. Spying actor Elias Koteas, who plays Staros, sitting on a rock, looking wrecked and lonely, he picks up a camera and starts rolling before Koteas even notices. He keeps telling the soldiers to look for remaining Japanese foxholes as if they're "quail hunting."
Malick later returns to Nolte and Cusack and watches their body language devolve into a battle for dominance as they circle each other, trying to end up on the higher end of the hill. "Do whatever you want," he tells the actors, though he warns Nolte to do the scene as written before improvising, and presses Cusack to be restrained: "The challenge is good. All you need is the look in the eye."
After lunch, they do close-ups. Nolte, who researched his part with various military experts, improvises a range of approaches, from egocentric to utterly manipulative, almost seducing his aide with a blend of brutality and sentimentality, telling Gaff he's like a son to him, and then extemporizing about his own son, "a bait-shop owner in Florida," which Malick deems a little too amusing. The director keeps changing the camera's angle, even asking Nolte to step on a box to change his position. At one point, Nolte builds up a climactic head of steam, then screeches to a halt.
"I'm getting ready to spit on you," he tells Cusack.
"John, you'll need some Plexiglas," quips Malick.
During a break, Cusack rests both his arms on Nolte's shoulders. "Jesus, John, I'm 56," Nolte grouses. "My bones don't hold up that well. You have constipation like I have and see if you like it."
(January 14, 1999 12:00 a.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) - Here's my vote. The two best actors in movies today: Sean Penn and Nick Nolte. Put everyone else in the runner-up category.
I say this because Penn and Nolte have the kind of talent that casts light on contemporary manhood. Penn's edgy anxieties seem geared to a time of boundless agitation and vicious insecurities. Nolte, who'll be seen in the upcoming "Affliction," taps directly into veins of pain.
Just as important, Penn and Nolte make daring choices. They don't protect themselves but select material rich in emotional and artistic possibilities. That doesn't mean their gambles always pay off. ```````````````````````````` March 19, 1999
NICK NOLTE ON HIS LONG, DAZED JOURNEY INTO OSCAR NIGHT
by Nick Nolte
RICH MAN, POOR MAN (1976)
The epic ABC miniseries made Nolte, who played black sheep Tom Jordache, an overnight sex symbol. "I was 35. I was a theater actor and just picking up some extra money in television. I auditioned with Peter Strauss. After the scene I said to him, 'I'll see you the day we start shooting.' Peter said, 'You can't tell that!' I said, 'I'll bet you.' I remember discussions while we were doing Rich Man, Poor Man, [the network] saying 'You know, if this works, we'll do that book Roots next.'"
THE DEEP (1977)
Meant to be a follow-up to Jaws, this Peter Benchley adventure became best known for Jacqueline Bisset's wet T-shirt. "Columbia kept pushing The Deep at me, and I kept saying no, but after a year it was the only [offer] there. There was no character in the script. It was about the monster, the deep, the treasure, and Jackie's breasts."
WHO'LL STOP THE RAIN (1978)
Director Karel Reisz's post-Vietnam drama was the first to showcase Nolte's acting chops. "In the film industry, my mentor has been Karel. He came on [the set of] The Deep and watched. He said, 'You don't need to communicate to the crew so much; a lot of your work is wasted entertaining them.' So right away, he took the reins. He turned me from that big commercial picture to the heart and soul of the work. Had I not been able to do that, I don't know where I would have gone."
NORTH DALLAS FORTY (1979)
Nolte helped develop this adaptation of Peter Gent's controversial novel exposing the dark side of pro football. "I got a call from the owner of the San Diego Chargers. He said, 'If you're going to make North Dallas Forty, I'll finance the whole thing.' That was their attempt to gain control of the film and destroy it. They would've never made it."
CANNERY ROW (1982)
While shooting the Steinbeck adaptation, Nolte and Debra Winger developed a rocky relationship on and off screen. "Cannery Row is a lovely piece. Winger--just like she's said about me, 'He's weird'--she's got her weirdness too. Those weirdnesses always fit together in some ways. She drove me crazy; she'd say I drove her crazy too."
48 HRS. (1982)
Walter Hill's buddy movie spawned countless imitators (including its own lackluster sequel, 1990's Another 48 HRS.) and helped make Eddie Murphy a superstar; ironically, Paramount execs initially weren't sold on the Saturday Night Live star. "[During shooting] Walter said, 'You know, they want to fire Eddie. They don't think he's funny.' We refused. After three weeks they just forgot. Years later we said, 'We should do a sequel.' But it was a bad idea. We should never have done it. We got a big payday. It was a mistake."
UNDER FIRE (1983)
A drama set during Nicaragua's Sandinista revolution, Fire was accused of being too leftist. "That's a wonderful film that didn't get an audience. We approached Julie Christie to play in it. She didn't think it was left enough."
GRACE QUIGLEY (1985)
Katharine Hepburn starred as an old woman who tries to kill herself by hiring hitman Nolte. This famous flop was most notable for the clashes between Nolte and Hepburn, who considered him unprofessional. "We had to drown at the end, so they scheduled this morning of drowning tests out in the Atlantic Ocean. Katharine would yell from the shore, 'I hope you drown!' Afterwards she came up to me and said, 'You know, Nick, Spencer [Tracy] drank quite a lot. But he never drank when he was going to work. You've really got to get a handle on yourself. You've been drunk in every gutter in this town.' I said, 'Almost. I haven't quite made 'em all.'"
DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS (1986)
To play a bum who moves in with millionaires Richard Dreyfuss and Bette Midler, Nolte did his own brand of research. "I didn't bathe, didn't shower, didn't brush my teeth, wore the same clothes, slept outside downtown, and still, Bette refused to believe I was the bum. So then I slept outside and accidentally slept in some poison oak. I got it all across my body. My skin would actually bubble out. So my makeup man had a big trash can with an herbal mix and cheesecloth. I would strip down to my underwear and he would wrap me in these cheesecloths. When Bette saw that, she said, 'I'm not ever gonna touch that guy! I'm not going near him!' From then on, I was the bum."
NEW YORK STORIES (1989)
This trilogy of shorts by Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and Woody Allen marked the first of two collaborations with Scorsese. "It was a very gutsy thing for all those guys to do. They knew the critics would compare them all. But I thought it was one of the smartest things the business has ever done."
EVERYBODY WINS (1990)
Despite its pedigree--Nolte, Winger, Reisz, and an Arthur Miller script--the film was a total disappointment. "We had problems with that piece. It just misses. That, by the way, is the end of Karel Reisz's career in film. I always felt in an odd way responsible about that."
Nolte added a walrus mustache, six-inch lifts, and dozens of pounds for Sidney Lumet's top-notch crime drama. "I went to Sidney's office to read. I was real skinny 'cause I had just come off Everybody Wins. Sidney looked at me and said 'Oh, no, this won't do!' I said, 'It'll be fine. I'll go down to West Virginia and I'll come back every three weeks and we'll talk about it.' So I'd go down to West Virginia and I'd eat and eat and eat. After three months I had gained 40 or 50 pounds. I was 240 pounds."
CAPE FEAR (1991)
To win the role of Sam Bowden, the lawyer terrorized by an ex-con played by Robert De Niro, Nolte auditioned for the part by showing up at the premiere of Martin Scorsese's GoodFellas in character. "I thought to myself, Marty's only seen me as that big fat painter guy [from New York Stories]. And I'm real thin now. So I combed my hair back and put a suit on and went over there. Marty saw me and he goes, 'Nick! Jesus, you look...wait right here! I gotta get Bobby!' And he said, 'Listen, can you come for a meeting tomorrow at two?' I went up there and that was it."
THE PRINCE OF TIDES (1991)
Nolte earned his first Oscar nomination as emotionally scarred football coach Tom Wingo in Barbra Streisand's adaptation of Pat Conroy's 1986 novel. "Streisand was just so complete in her process. She had it all together. Barbra knows lighting really well. She's lit really well. She was just nailed into it."
I'LL DO ANYTHING (1994)
James L. Brooks' infamous musical--which became a nonmusical in the editing room--still had a happy ending for Nolte. "I thought [the songs] were really good. After the first screening, [Brooks] said the first two or three songs would work and then the audience would catch on to the device. Half of our shooting was the musical. Vicki [Lewis] was a Broadway actress cast out of New York. We started to date, and we've just been together ever since."
BLUE CHIPS (1994) I LOVE TROUBLE (1994) MULHOLLAND FALLS (1996)
These constitute what Nolte considers his emptiest period, professionally; he and his Trouble costar, Julia Roberts, are said to have despised each other. "After [Tides], I sat with my lawyers and they said, 'Well now, here's the big money.' And I took a dive, I went for it. I convinced myself that the scripts were good. I convinced myself that people were there to make a film. And it really wasn't about that. It was about making money. [I Love Trouble] was a studio film, that's all it was. Not my ball game. I didn't belong there. I've never commented about [Roberts]."
Alan Rudolph's drama (produced by Robert Altman) starred Nolte as a womanizing handyman and Julie Christie, who garnered an Oscar nomination, as an aging ex-actress. "When Julie was receiving all these accolades at film festivals--Altman and Rudolph quite frankly were pushing her, and rightly so--I had a house in Fort Lauderdale, so I said, 'Do you want Afterglow in the [Fort Lauderdale International] Film Festival?' And, of course, out of that I won Best Actor. Not that I didn't deserve it! But I was able to call Rudolph and Altman and say, 'Hey, I just won a film festival as Best Actor. I was getting so damn jealous that I just wanted you guys to know that there are other performances in this film too!'"
Danish director Ole Bornedal remade his 1994 thriller only to see Miramax sit on it for almost two years. "I knew we were in trouble. I had seen the original and it was slow, European, psychological. It was one of the scariest films I've ever seen. I said to Ole, 'Why do you want to remake this?' As the studio got it, they realized that they had a European-paced film, and they kept hacking at it and hacking at it. Ole has gone back to Denmark, and I've never seen the film."
THE THIN RED LINE (1998)
Nolte was supposed to follow Terrence Malick's WWII epic with the Merchant Ivory drama A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries--until the Line shoot went long. "I realized quickly that you can't lock dates with Terry. You're either in the film or you can't do the film. I finally had to make the phone call. I just said to James [Ivory], 'I'll be a detriment to the film.' I imagine they cussed me up one side and down the other. I heard Kris Kristofferson did a wonderful job with it." ```````````````````````````````` Entertainment Weekly Sept 15, 1995 A POSING VIEWPOINT
NICK NOLTE, MALE MODEL
by George Mannes
To play Thomas Jefferson, Nick Nolte donned a ponytailed wig, covering the golden locks that helped start his little-known career as a model. Before the 1976 mini series Rich Man, Poor Man made Nolte a household name, his face had already appeared in households--on boxes of Clairol Summer Blonde hair lightener.
Nolte's modeling stint began after the Nebraska native moved to Minnesota in 1969 to act at the Old Log Theater in the town of Excelsior. Don Stolz, the Old Log's producer-director, recommended Nolte to the Minneapolis-based Eleanor Moore Talent Agency. "He looked somewhat Scandinavian," says Jane Noyce, who worked at the agency. "We are all very Scandinavian up here, so he fit right in."
Though already nearing 30, Nolte soon became "the hot commodity in Minneapolis," says Noyce, who booked him for modeling jobs until he left Minnesota two years later. Nolte appeared in TV and print ads for the utility company Northern States Power, she says, and was featured in newspaper ads for Dayton's department store. Describing what sounds like a precursor to the Lucky Vanous Diet Coke commercial, Noyce says that whenever Nolte visited the agency, "nothing would get done. I mean, the office kind of stopped. He had this charisma about him."
After Nolte had begun acting in New York in 1971, he posed for the Clairol box. One prominent modeling figure--Ford Models president Joe Hunter--remembers Nolte making the rounds, and came close to working with him. "He interviewed with us, and we loved him," Hunter says. "We wanted to represent him. But he didn't have his heart in it, because he wanted to be an actor."
By the time Nolte broke into the L.A. scene in 1973 with a role in the William Inge drama The Last Pad, his modeling days were behind him. Though his hunky look still turned heads, he agreed to just a couple of TV commercials and no print work in L.A., according to Mimi Weber, his personal manager from 1973 to 1981. "He was delicious looking," she says. "He really was."
January 24, 1992
THE SUM OF HIS PARTS: NOLTE ON FILM
by Ty Burr
He started as just another '70s Robert Redford clone, down to the shag cut and Butch Cassidy mustache. But in movie after movie, Nick Nolte has mapped a terrain charted by few other actors-the ground where brawn meets intellect. Here's a crash course on the many places he has been. All are available on video.
*RETURN TO MACON COUNTY (1975) After a handful of TV movies, Nolte made his theatrical debut in this Sam Arkoff-produced car-crash quickie. He and costar Don Johnson look like they're still in high school, but Nolte already has a brusque, cut-the-crap authority. D
*RICH MAN, POOR MAN (1976) Everything about ABC's 12-hour adaptation of the Irwin Shaw best-seller seemed risky: Miniseries had yet to prove their success, and no one had heard of any of the stars (including Susan Blakely and Peter Strauss, right). But codirector Boris Sagal promised the network that Nick Nolte (as rebellious Tom Jordache) was "a real street animal with the charisma that made a star out of John Garfield," and 50 million viewers agreed. B+
^ *THE DEEP (1977) The focus was mainly on Jacqueline Bisset's nipples, so a lot of people have forgotten that Nolte was even in the movie of Peter Benchley's best-seller. As Bisset's skin-diving squeeze, he gets tangled up with buried treasure, sunken drugs, a moray eel, and snarling Lou Gossett Jr. It's not much of a stretch. C-
*WHO'LL STOP THE RAIN (1978) Director Karel Reisz's underrated thriller (based on Robert Stone's Dog Soldiers) gives Nolte his first thinking-man/action hero. A Nietzsche-reading Vietnam vet, he protects Michael Moriarty and Tuesday Weld (with Nolte, right), two drug-running babes in the woods, from crooked cops. In so doing, Nolte sums up all the sour disenchantment of the post-Vietnam era. A
*NORTH DALLAS FORTY (1979) A double whammy: No one expected a football movie to be this smart, and no one expected Nolte to be this good. A rowdy, incisive look at professional athletes, the adaptation of Peter Gent's novel remains one of the best sports films ever. And for the first time, Nolte seems an indisputable star. A
*HEART BEAT (1980) John Heard as Jack Kerouac, Nolte as Neal Cassady-the guy who lived the lifestyle Kerouac wrote about-and Sissy Spacek as the woman who loved them both, off and on the road. A solid if somewhat chilly drama, with Nolte a garrulous, galumphing, happy hipster of a muse. C+
*CANNERY ROW(1982) The bums, broads, and beautiful losers of John Steinbeck's fiction become cutesy-poo cliches in this treacly misfire. Debra Winger is awful as a ditsy hooker; Nolte, playing a baseball player-turned- marine biologist, mostly hides behind his mustache. D
*48 HRS. (1982) How do you play straight man to Eddie Murphy and avoid getting wiped off the screen? By shading your basic hung-over-grizzly character just a teeny bit into caricature. By bulking up, too: Nolte looks the size of a small RV here. Murphy (with Nolte, above) gets the big laughs in Walter Hill's action-comedy, but Nolte is a subtly cruddy delight. A-
*UNDER FIRE (1983) An exhilarating action-drama in which the personal and the political seamlessly intermesh. Nolte's a wary American photojournalist who, with pals Gene Hackman and Joanna Cassidy, witnesses the final days of Nicaragua's corrupt Somoza regime. Little seen but terrific. A+
*TEACHERS (1984) The cynical inner-city teacher who can still "talk to the kids" and reclaims his ideals just in time for the fade-out: That's the kind of character that exists only in movies, and Nolte just doesn't seem interested. Arthur Hiller's watchable comedy-drama talks a lot about real-life problems but ends up sounding sitcom hollow. C-
*GRACE QUIGLEY (1985) A legendary bomb, Katharine Hepburn's last theatrical film plays like Final Exit turned into a queasy farce. Nolte's the hit man hired by Kate to rub out herself and other tired-of-livin' oldsters. He obviously has no idea what he's doing in this movie, and it's his one truly rotten performance. F
*DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS (1986) Nolte and Richard Dreyfuss make a screwy, cross-cultural Mutt and Jeff team in Paul Mazursky's remake of 1932's Boudu Saved From Drowning. By playing against type as the suicidal homeless man who takes over Dreyfuss' 90210 household, Nolte broke out of the "smart tough guy" straitjacket. B+
*WEEDS(1987) One of Nolte's most expansive roles: a jailhouse lifer who finds freedom-first creatively, then literally-in putting his demons onstage and touring his play to other prisons. Based on a true story, Weeds has gained a loose cult following. Too ramshackle to get passionate about, it's also much too likable to be forgotten. B
*EXTREME PREJUDICE (1987) The Wild Bunch inflated to Wagnerian proportions, and, as such, engagingly ridiculous. Texas Ranger Nolte lacks his usual intelligent gleam, but he looks just like the Marlboro Man as he chases down buddy-turned-drug dealer Powers Boothe. Director Walter Hill keeps it moving almost fast enough to make you forget it's macho BS. The key word is almost. C+
*FAREWELL TO THE KING (1989) Writer-director John Milius (Red Dawn) tones down his penchant for he-man philosophy in this surprisingly stirring saga of an embittered WWII GI gone native. Leading a Borneo tribe against the Japanese, Nolte resembles a cross between Michael Bolton and Tarzan, but his performance is electrifyingly extreme. B
*NEW YORK STORIES (1989) Nolte and director Martin Scorsese kick off this short-story trilogy with a giddy rush ("Life Lessons")-too bad the segments by Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen aren't nearly as strong. Nolte makes his paunchy Soho artist a force of nature in paint-spattered corduroys; he's needy, impulsive, bullying, caring, hugely talented-often all in the same scene. A
*THREE FUGITIVES (1989) Some movies give Nick Nolte an actual character. ( Others just require him to show up and grunt. This sickly bank-robbery farce pairing the star with Martin Short is one of the latter. You've been warned. D
*EVERYBODY WINS (1990) What a lineup: screenplay by Arthur Miller, direction by Karel Reisz (see Who'll Stop the Rain, above), a cast top-lined by Nolte and Debra Winger. But what a mess. Nolte's a weak-willed detective uncovering skulduggery in a New England village, but the overloaded plot takes a backseat to what's-it-all-mean religious symbolism. You've really been warned. F
*Q&A (1990) Sidney Lumet's taut expose of New York police corruption was out of step with its feel-good times, so audiences simply didn't bother. They missed Nolte's first out-and-out villain, a bigoted rogue cop whom naive assistant D.A. Timothy Hutton (above left, with Nolte) vows to bring down. B
*ANOTHER 48 HRS. (1990) Or: "Take the Money and Run." To Nolte's credit, he chips in a thoroughly professional performance in this uninspired carbon copy. Luckily, the success of Cape Fear and The Prince of Tides means that he may not have to make any more movies like this. D+
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