Jack Nicholson Isn’t Retired Yet, Says Director James L. Brooks: ‘I Don’t Buy’ That He’s Done Acting

Thirteen years after last appearing onscreen, and Jack Nicholson might still be open to working.

The Oscar winner most recently starred in 2010 rom-com “How Do You Know,” directed by his “Terms of Endearment” helmer James L. Brooks decades after first collaborating on the 1983 drama. Brooks told The Wrap that despite rumors, Nicholson is not retired.

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“I don’t think he’s retired,” Brooks said. “I don’t buy that he’s retired.”

He continued, “I remember there was once a friend of mine who one of these raging, alcoholic-driven arguments [with me] about who was the greatest actor at the time. This was at Dustin Hoffman’s height and everything like that. I’m saying Jack Nicholson. He’s saying Dustin Hoffman. I went with [Nicholson] because I said Jack could play either in ‘The Odd Couple.'”

Brooks called it “miracle casting” that Nicholson starred in “Terms of Endearment,” thanks to actress Debra Winger who gave Nicholson the script. Nicholson won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his turn in the film. Brooks also told IndieWire that in the 40 years since the film’s release, “Terms of Endearment” is now viewed as a drama after first being received in theaters as a comedy.

“As an audience picture, it clocked its laughs,” Brooks said. “Now when people see it at home, it plays much more as a drama because you don’t have that collective audience. It’s a different movie, but not the movie I intended.”

Nicholson is among the most-awarded actors in his profession, landing three wins and 12 nominations at the Academy Awards. In his later years, the “Batman” alum opted for lighter roles in “The Bucket List” and “How Do You Know,” citing post-9/11 fears.

“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,” the “Shining” actor told LiveAbout.com on his work post-2001. “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.”

Nicholson’s last dramatic role was in Best Picture Oscar-winning “The Departed” in 2006.

“That might be the biggest misconception about me. I’ve always been a romantic,” the “Something’s Gotta Give” actor told LiveAbout.com. “I’m a deep, sentimental romantic.”

As Nicholson retreated from the spotlight after his last most recent film in 2010, his former “Easy Rider” co-star Peter Fonda claimed to Page Six in 2017 that Nicholson was quietly retiring. Nicholson’s son Ray Nicholson, meanwhile, has landed breakout roles in Amazon’s “Panic,” Academy Award-winning “Promising Young Woman,” and the upcoming “Gonzo Girl” adaptation.

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