Jack Nicholson Falls Hard for the Romantic Comedy, "Something's Gotta Give"

Interview With Jack Nicholson

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Murray, Rebecca. "Jack Nicholson Falls Hard for the Romantic Comedy, "Something's Gotta Give"." ThoughtCo, Dec. 9, 2003, thoughtco.com/jack-nicholson-on-somethings-gotta-give-2419586. Murray, Rebecca. (2003, December 9). Jack Nicholson Falls Hard for the Romantic Comedy, "Something's Gotta Give". Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/jack-nicholson-on-somethings-gotta-give-2419586 Murray, Rebecca. "Jack Nicholson Falls Hard for the Romantic Comedy, "Something's Gotta Give"." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/jack-nicholson-on-somethings-gotta-give-2419586 (accessed September 20, 2017).
Something's Gotta Give movie
Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton star in "Something's Gotta Give.". Columbia Pictures
“Something’s Gotta Give” follows the romantic entanglements of Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson), a lifelong bachelor who refuses to date anyone older than 30. Escaping for a romantic weekend with his current arm candy, Marin (Amanda Peet), Harry’s chest pains send Marin running to mom, Erica (Diane Keaton), for help. Mom Erica’s not exactly in the correct age group to spark Harry’s interest however as the two spend more time alone together, Harry discovers there’s something quite special about a more mature woman.

JACK NICHOLSON (‘Harry’):

You’ve been doing a lot of comedies recently. What does ‘comic timing’ mean to you?
I've been doing this long enough that I can kind of decide like a regular, other kind of artist, “This is what I'm going to do,” and the shock effect on me of 9/11 just made me feel immediately that I didn't want to do anything too challenging or depressing. I've done that. I just felt like I wanted to comedy. I want to uplift not only people, but myself, and once I got started with it, it's very difficult, comedy. I'm now in the Oscar Wilde school of ‘dying is easy and comedy is difficult.’

How delicate a balance is it when, as a character, you can’t know what you’re doing is funny, but as an actor, you do know that?
It is a delicate balance, and what you find with this movie, the guy has a brush with mortality through having a heart problem. In drama, you would play that heart problem or you'd heavily underscore the performance with it.

In comedy, I found in “As Good As It Gets,” the more disease, the less laughs. That's why comedy is more difficult. You can look at scenes when you're doing a drama like, “Maybe it works,” but in comedy, when you're doing it, either it works or it doesn't. You have to keep doing it until it does, and the requirement is more.

That's why, as I say, I've been studying it actually four out of the last five movies that I've done, but the last three were specifically that. I don't want to be too heavy.

How does finding love late in life resonate with you?
One of the common conversations that I have with friends of all ages, once again, particularly mid-life people, is that whatever their situation, if they're not in it, they all yearn for one more really romantic experience. That exalted, wonderful feeling that you say that you'll never do again when you're not in it, but nothing stands in the way of this. That's what I think that this refers to.

It's interesting to talk about this movie because it's hard to articulate. She's so classically simple in the way she shoots a movie, Nancy Meyers, and it's hard to describe why it's a unique movie. I know it's a unique movie because the script was so good. I almost didn't work for like two years in a row. I didn't want to work, but this was a script that I'd never seen, number one. It's a fabulous script, but I knew it was sort of what I was looking for. “About Schmidt” is a black comedy. Adam Sandler's picture, “Anger Management” is kind of antic, a goon comedy of a kind.

But this is the thing, one of the things about movies that I've always liked the most. I mean, Nancy worked for Billy Wilder, one of everyone's heroes - or with Billy Wilder - and this is really what America does like no one else, and what I've always loved. I mean, these are my favorite directors.

How was working with Diane Keaton?
I've always had tremendous affection for Keaton. I think so does everyone else so there's nothing new in that. She really gives me tremendous energy working with her because like me, inside, she's pretty wild about fooling around. You can saying anything to Diane. I've told other reporters because it just sticks in your mind, but sometimes, her preparation, I'll walk up to her and she'll look me in the eye and say, “You're disgusting.” “What?” “You're disgusting.” And it makes you laugh.

She's a very original thinker, too, as a person.

We have a past relationship of affection and like one another very much. So it makes that part of the day, the down hours, certainly that part is very interesting. She's nothing if not fascinating, and working with her, she's very unpredictable, which I like. She's very disciplined about it all. She approaches a script sort of like a play in that she has the entire script memorized before you start doing the movie, which I don’t know any other actors doing that. In fact, it's almost a craft axiom that it's best if you learn it day by day and then forget it.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for love?
(Laughing) Well, I've made a few unexpected appearances. I've jumped through people's windows and stuff like that. I'm always afraid it will disturb someone if gifts are too extravagant, but I've thrown a few out. I've hidden on a roof.

PAGE 2: Being Funny, Oscar Campaigns, and Romance

Additional “Something’s Gotta Give” Cast Interviews:
Diane Keaton and Keanu Reeves

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
"Something’s Gotta Give" Photos
"Something’s Gotta Give” Trailer, Credits and News

Are you funny in real life?
I directed a comedy once and by coincidence, I had dinner the night before I was to leave for Mexico with Mike [May], Elaine [May], Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, and Buck Henry. Now, I've never been with all of these people at once though they're all friends of mine. I can remember that I was sitting at this dinner and I looked around and I thought, “What in the name of God made you think that you were professionally funny?” It wasn't like I was going to be able to turn to Mike and say, “Now listen, what do I do?” I was leaving the next day to direct a comedy. I started sweating because I was looking at these people and was thinking, “I'm not this funny.” It is difficult. I have been studying it. I mean, it's not that it was a subject that I was unaware of, but I like funny people. Jackie Gleason, I loved him all over the place. I guess that they've all influenced me.

Is it a hard and fast rule for you to date younger women?
No, that has nothing to do with me. I date all kinds. First of all, I don't date. I can't make dates. I'm a little phobic about that, but no, I date everyone, all ages.

Are you more of a romantic now than when you were younger?
That might be the biggest misconception about me, I've always been a romantic. I'm a deep, sentimental romantic. I found doing this picture, the most refreshing thing to me was that I did a lot of things in this picture that I do in life. There was vulnerability and a direct approach in a lot of the scenes that when I would do them, and I wasn't prepared for this, and I'd be done with the scene, and I'd think, “Wow, I don't think that I've ever really done that on film before.” Simple things, as I say, that are not foreign to me.

You once mentioned that when fans meet you, sometimes it’s an important thing for them. How do you feel about your relationship with your audience?
I got my original job at MGM in order to see movie stars so I know what the impact of that is. When I go to a museum and I'm standing there looking at a Van Gogh painting and I look next to me and I see nine people looking at me, that somehow illustrates why I'm more attentive to running into people.

It's easy to forget because you don't want to get, “Hey, I'm a movie star.” You don't want to get that way, but it's also easy to forget how meaningful that is.

Last night I stood in the lobby of the restaurant that I was in, and I had just like regular New Yorker conversations with the people about a lot of things. I know that they're New Yorkers, but I know the chances are that it may not be the most vibrant memory of their life, but they will always remember that. This is truly about position. You have to be objective about it, but my civics theme on the interviews these days, I'm always influenced by what I read, and it is that we have to be responsible for our own actions. We have to start there. We're so drawn out into the conflicts of the world and in this movie, I think that's what people ultimately come to believe. In this movie, he goes away and finds that he has to be responsible. It comes from my generation, we're kind of sentimentalists.

What would you say to potential ticket buyers to get them to see “Something’s Gotta Give?”
I think that it's authentically uplifting and an honestly engrossing movie that should make you feel good about being alive. It's honestly romantic, and it's very, I think, accurately observed.

I've seen and watched and been in enough movies, and when this movie grabs you, it doesn’t let go. You don't find yourself going, “When is it going to get me?” Moment by moment, it's such original material and so logical emotionally that it's simply engrossing. So uplifting, romantic, engrossing, original, and honest. Diane Keaton and Nancy [Meyers] are two of the people with the most integrity that I've run across. I mean, you don't fool around with these individuals.

At this point in your career, do you have to campaign for an Oscar?
Well you know, I never really did campaign for them. I just didn't feel comfortable with that. Early on there wasn't the intensity of campaigning and of course, other people would do some amount of that on my behalf. I've gotten a little more relaxed about it now because everyone does it, but I look at it like the Oscars are good for everyone.

That's the single, easiest thing that you can say about them. And really, to be critical about anything about them, it's only signatory. It's not a real thing. I've always looked at them as a great night. Everyone loves them. No one is getting hurt or this or that. I've, incidentally, never felt particularly popular with them in that sense because remember, I may have won a few, but I've lost a lot of them, and it's the actor's branch that nominates me. I'm old enough now, I start to wonder, “When do I get an old boy's Oscar?”

“Something’s Gotta Give” Cast Interviews:
Diane Keaton and Keanu Reeves

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
"Something’s Gotta Give” Trailer, Photos, and Credits