Nick Nolte Would not Care About Legacy, and Talks Julia Roberts Feud

  • Insider chatted with Nolte about what nonetheless makes him need to act at 81 years outdated.
  • The legend talked about enjoying a homeless Vietnam Conflict veteran in his newest film, “Rittenhouse Sq..”
  • Nolte additionally addressed the feud he had with Julia Roberts once they made the 1994 film “I Love Bother.”

At 81, Nick Nolte remains to be trying to find a narrative to inform. 

He could not look the identical as he did when he was dubbed Folks’s Sexiest Man Alive in 1992, and his acquainted gravelly voice would possibly sound gruffer as of late, however what stays is the need to be a performer. 

Or, perhaps even the want to be one.

“Rittenhouse Sq.,” an indie presently enjoying on the pageant circuit, is the newest instance of this innate need. Marking the second characteristic from director Brandon Eric Kamin, Nolte performs Barry, a homeless veteran dwelling within the famed Philadelphia park, Rittenhouse Sq.. He befriends KJ (Sharon Jones), an aspiring musician who resides on the streets after his pastor mom kicks him out of the home.

As he has all through his profession, Nolte captures an depth within the position that is blended with attraction and chaos. It is a type that made the three-time Oscar nominee a Hollywood star for many years, with motion pictures like “North Dallas Forty,” “48 Hrs,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” “Cape Worry,” “The Prince of Tides,” “Blue Chips,” “Affliction,” and “Warrior.”

Nick Nolte and Dharon Jones sitting on a bench

Nick Nolte and Dharon Jones in “Rittenhouse Sq..”

Bear Bear Productions

His bad-boy antics typically overshadowed his abilities, like when his disheveled 2002 mug shot went viral earlier than that phrase even existed or when he obtained right into a publicized feud with Julia Roberts whereas making 1994’s “I Love Bother.” Nevertheless it was additionally these flaws that made his work so charming.

The New York Times put it finest in 1991 when it wrote of the star: “A Nolte hero is never a fairly sight… he stands humbly earlier than us a whole and utter mess.”

Nonetheless, Hollywood has modified in its tastes to the purpose that Nolte now not acknowledges it. He hasn’t labored on a studio film since 2019’s “Angel Has Fallen.” His final high-profile half was the identical yr when he voiced the Kuiil character within the first season of “The Mandalorian.” He spends most of his time now working within the independent-film area and is totally content material with that.

“My connection is to the story itself,” Nolte mentioned on a cellphone name with Insider earlier this week. “The tales in Hollywood are simply so few that I do not know of them anymore.”

Insider chatted with Nolte about what he is nonetheless trying to find within the roles he performs, why a fireplace that destroyed his dwelling in 2008 has made him now not take into consideration his legacy, and whether or not he is ever reconciled with Roberts.

Nick Nolte with a white beard

Nick Nolte in “Rittenhouse Sq..”

Bear Bear Productions

You’ve got performed a Vietnam veteran, a homeless individual, and an alcoholic a number of occasions over your profession. For “Rittenhouse Sq.,” you do all three in the identical position. What’s it about these sure issues that make you need to play them time and again?

Homelessness is one thing that intrigues me, the scope of the character you’ll be able to apply to it. Like with “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” director Paul Mazursky requested me earlier than we began capturing if I’d go downtown and spend a couple of days exterior and attempt to get into the homeless shelters. I went with a pal of Paul’s who can also be an actor and we wore ratty garments and we went downtown and it did not take lengthy to get that really feel.

In at some point, you are feeling you are actually on the market. However we did not know the methods of the road. As an illustration, after we went to get right into a shelter they would not settle for us as a result of we hadn’t been on the streets lengthy sufficient. They may see that. It was very spectacular to be on the market on the streets for these three or 4 days. There’s so much to enjoying a homeless individual. 

Your father fought in World Conflict II once you have been a child so that you did not actually know him till he got here again from the warfare. Is a few of your father in these roles once you play a veteran or somebody within the service like “The Skinny Pink Line?”

Yeah. With “The Skinny Pink Line,” having lived by means of World Conflict II, I used to be born in ’41 so I wasn’t acutely aware sufficient to realize it, however in a method, it knowledgeable the frantic of that character in “The Skinny Pink Line.” It gave me a data. 

Nick Nolte holding a communicator to his ear

Nick Nolte in 1998’s “The Skinny Pink Line.”

twentieth Century Fox

Taking part in the Barry character in “Rittenhouse Sq.,” did reminiscences of how your father was after the warfare come again to you?

Sure, in a method. Although I solely had sketches of tales that he informed me. He was a significant in artillery. I believe he was stationed off Australia. They’d arrange artillery and hearth over miles into the jungle.

I bear in mind I requested him if he ever noticed anybody get shot and he informed me there was one man. His identify was Pink as a result of he had purple hair. He by no means wore a helmet. And my dad informed me he obtained picked off, shot within the head, due to that. That was the one story he ever informed me. 

Barry may be very a lot a guardian angel to KJ on this film. The weather of your character — shaky palms, consuming — was that stuff you delivered to the character, or was it on the web page?

That is myself and Brandon including to the homeless way of life. 

Nick Nolte smiling with hands on a bar table next to beer cans

Nick Nolte in 1978’s “Who’ll Cease the Rain.”


Have you ever ever been capable of pinpoint why so a lot of your characters drink? I imagine it was Debra Winger who as soon as mentioned that you’d even go to the director typically and say in regards to the character you have been enjoying, “I believe this man is a drinker.”

[Laughs.] Nicely, should you have a look at the typical American household rising up within the Nineteen Fifties within the Midwest like I did, they’d this cocktail hour they did. And so they smoked. There was no considered most cancers at the moment.

Smoking and consuming in movies is simply an artwork. That is the way you fill these moments of insecurity once you’re in dialogue with somebody and the dialog stops. What do you do? You seize a cigarette or a drink. That was one thing taken from dwelling throughout these occasions. 

At 81, what makes you need to nonetheless do the work? Are there belongings you’re nonetheless trying to find?

I’ve all the time had one thing creative exterior of myself that I can flip to, so I am nonetheless within the tales. I do not actually know what they’re, as there are fewer and fewer of them as of late. And I do not discover the 80s significantly enjoyable since you’re falling aside in a method. However I’ve all the time mentioned that I will carry on going till I simply cannot go anymore. 

Is there a specific director you’d nonetheless wish to work with?

It has been a protracted whereas since a director championed my method of working.

Talking of that, all through your profession you’ve gotten been identified for going to excessive lengths for the characters you performed. Is there one you performed you could recall was essentially the most memorable to dive into?

I bear in mind the totally different phases I went by means of for “Rich Man, Poor Man.” That was the largest expanse in age. It went from 16 to 45. Bodily, I considered the burden I used to be as a sophomore in highschool, which was 150 kilos. So I dropped all the way down to that weight and obtained that boy physique again. I ran round that Hollywood reservoir day and night time.

Nick Nolte in a boxing ring

Nick Nolte in “Wealthy Man, Poor Man.”

ABC Archives/Getty

Then, there was a time frame after my character Tommy is kicked out of the house. Ten years go by, he turns into a boxer, and he comes again to fulfill his mom. I knew there needed to be a change.

To have that punch-drunk feeling, I plugged up my ears so I could not hear very nicely. I actually needed to focus and hearken to what the opposite character was saying after which once I talked it was like an echo chamber. It was actual loud. So I’d soften the voice to speak. 

And I additionally bear in mind for “Lovely Nation,” 20 years or so later, I performed a blind Vietnam vet. Earlier than filming I’d go all the way down to the attention hospital right here in LA and the extra I noticed, I spotted the individuals who couldn’t see in any respect, there was one thing incorrect with how their eyes appeared. They have been glossed over or bodily did not look proper.

So I went to the director and I mentioned, “I might like to do that position blind.” I obtained this physician who would put a lens in my eyes that blocked all of the background and one other lens that we placed on high of it that blocked the iris.

Nick Nolte sitting on a chair with his eyes closed

Nick Nolte in 2005’s “Lovely Nation.”

Sony Photos Classics

I labored out what number of steps it took to get to the mattress, and what number of steps to the range. I had all that down. However after we shot one scene, I obtained up and headed in the direction of the again bed room and someway tousled the steps and ended up within the closet. I could not work out the place the hell I used to be. So, typically my technique would backfire on me. 

There are numerous “Hollywood dangerous boy” tales about you. One is the behind-the-scenes drama between you and Julia Roberts whereas making 1994’s “I Love Bother.” She described working with you as “completely disgusting.” Over time have you ever ever reached out to her and buried the hatchet?

No, I have not. Although it is buried. I imply it was absurd what we went by means of. It was partly my fault and just a little little bit of hers. Julia obtained married in the beginning of that movie and it was a kind of issues the place I simply approached all of it incorrect.

[A representative for Roberts didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.]

Nick Nolte standing next to Julia Roberts

Nick Nolte and Julia Roberts in “I Love Bother.”

Touchstone Photos/Getty

Now let’s go even farther again. You have been thought-about to play the lead in 1978’s “Superman,” which might have been wild to see. How critical have been you thought-about for it?

Oh, they have been fascinated about me however I turned them off by saying that I’d solely do it if I might play him as a schizophrenic. 

Was that your method of mainly sabotaging your possibilities for the position?

That is sabotage. It might have been very unusual to play that. 

Do you concentrate on legacy in any respect? Do you concentrate on the way you need to be remembered?

No, I do not. Not since I had the fire that burned every piece of remembrance that I had. That is type of pressured me to not give it some thought. 

Nick Nolte in a suit sitting in a chair

Nick Nolte in 1997.

Stephen Sullivan/Penske Media/Getty

Earlier than the fireplace have been you extra reflective?

I had my assets. I had a set of books that I might been amassing for 30 years. I had the wardrobe from each movie I used to be in. 

Wow. What made you need to preserve your wardrobe from each film you’d carried out to that time?

They have been good garments, for one factor. And I simply needed to maintain it as a result of it was one thing that was tangible from the characters that I performed. 

However now it is a totally different feeling?

Yeah. Now it is type of like beginning over once more. 

This interview has been condensed and edited for readability.

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