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Jack of Hearts

Has Hollywood’s original bad boy gone good? One-time rogue Jack Nicholson lives alone, tends to his teenagers, and yearns for one last great love

Q: You have said that you are proud of having resisted the Vietnam War. Are you also against the war in Iraq?

A: I was against [invading Iraq] because it’s preemptive, and we’ve never done it that way. You can’t imagine that every person in those countries doesn’t look at Americans as invaders and occupiers.

Q: You’re still burrowed in up at your old place on Mulholland Drive.

A: I live in the first house that I ever bought. I probably should have changed my living situation a million times, but I’m comfortable where I am. By the time it’s eleven and finally [the housekeeper] is gone, dinner is over, and so forth, now I can walk around, scratch my ass. Go down and look at the moon.

Q: Are there any specific roles or real-life figures you’d still like to play?

A: It doesn’t work that way—that’s what I like about my job. I’m looking for a good piece of material and good people.

Q: If not specific roles, what ideas or themes interest you?

A: I’m only going to do comedy. That’s pretty much what I’ve done since 9/11—bring on the clowns. Comedians are the most honest people in films because here’s the deal: either it’s funny or it ain’t.

Q: That’s really living in the moment—if you don’t get that laugh, you’re dead.

A: It’s a more demanding form. I don’t want to do anything stolid; if I was doing capital punishment, I’d have to get laughs in there.

Q: Any other taboos you’d like to break?

A: I’m trying to not eliminate sexuality from over-50 literature. People don’t want to know that Dad or Grandma is over there kootching it up a little bit. These things should be put in balance.

Q: AARP has done a lot of research on 50-plus sexual attitudes and behavior, and older people are plenty active and interested. And there’s Viagra.

A: Viagra. My initial feeling about it was that this could save marriage. Obviously “Till death do us part” is in there because someone knew you don’t go through any relationship exactly the same way every day, day after day.

Q: Do you prefer being single?

A: I like that I can come and go as I like. When I want to leave a party, I leave. But there are nights when anybody who lives alone says “Oh, I don’t want to be lonely” or has all the fears that people have. That’s another way of saying I’m wide open.

Q: Would you like to fall in love again?

A: Who would not want to? I don’t know how it is with women, but I know this about men: men behave worse when there are not women in their lives. In fact, one of the things I get from my contemporaries, in an intimate talk, is that almost all of them say, “I just want that one last big romance.” I don’t do a lot of original screenwriting anymore, but if I were, I’d find a way to make this the dramatic narrative of a movie, because it’s one of those silent yearnings of my own age group.

[So,] yes, I’d love it. I never minded being a fool for love. It’s nice to have a place where it’s good to be foolish. [Laughs.] Ask any old friend of mine, they’ll say, “Jack, he’s pretty smart, but in this area the man is beyond the pale. Don’t ask him anything about love. Or if you ask him, don’t listen to him.”

West Coast editor Nancy Griffin profiled Bucket List costar Morgan Freeman for the November & December 2007 issue.

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