Jack Nicholson’s Career High: The Best Thing He Ever Did

It’s been 14 years since Jack Nicholson last appeared in a film. But until then, the successful 87-year-old actor was one of the best and most popular in the history of cinema. With a total of 12 Oscar nominations, second only to Meryl Streep and Katherine Hepburn, the star of My Life is My Lifehas an impressive track record that includes countless classics of film history, from Easy Rider to Chinatown to The Shining.

For Nicholson, none of these films is the best performance of his career. Neither is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Terms of Endearment,nor As Good as It Gets—one of my favorite films in cinema history—for each of which he took home the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. In fact, the successful actor was not even nominated for an Academy Award for the role in question. He was nominated for a Golden Globe and, paradoxically, also for the negative Golden Raspberry Award.

We’re talking about Hoffa (A Test of Power), the biopic by actor and director Danny DeVito(The War of the Roses). Nicholson played the eponymous union leader, who became involved in dirty dealings with the mob and disappeared in 1975 under circumstances that are still unclear.

The film, written by David Mamet (The Untouchables), received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $29.3 million worldwide (against a $35 million budget), but wasn’t a huge box office success either. Not everyone was even on board with Nicholson’s performance this time around.

But the Joker actor was still convinced of his performance years later. In an interview with The Independent, he explained why Hoffa (A Test of Power) occupies such a special place in his filmography. “It was the first film I made about a real person. I was able to watch old newsreels and meet his son. When he got older in the film, I adopted a higher-pitched voice. Did you notice that?” he enthusiastically told the aforementioned newspaper.

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