Jack Nicholson is one of the most well known actors in the world, having been in the business since the 1950's. The remarkable thing about Nicholson is the number of brilliant roles he's had in that time. He can tell the audience more with a facial expression than many actors can in a whole career. By now his smirk and raised eyebrows are something of a trademark. He rarely plays a straightforward role, seemingly preferring acerbic yet suave characters who are challenged, yet larger than life. Even now, he can be relied on to take over the screen any time he's on it. Of course there are many other roles that could as easily belong on the list. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments here or on the Facebook page.
10. Freddie Gale (The Crossing Guard)
Freddie's daughter was killed by a drunk driver in a hit and run accident. The driver, John Booth (David Morse) was sentenced to serve six years in prison. During those years, Freddy's marriage has dissolved and he's spent most of his time drinking, sleeping with prostitutes, feeling guilty, and planning revenge. He imagines that killing Booth will somehow help things with his wife Mary (Anjelica Huston) and fix something in his own life. When Booth is released, Freddie finds that none of this will happen as easily as he'd imagined, not even when Booth offers no resistance at all.
"Tell the truth Mary! You want me to kill John Booth!"
9. Jerry Black (The Pledge)
"I made a promise, Eric. You're old enough to remember when that meant something."
8. Jimmy Hoffa (Hoffa)
Presumably, everyone's aware of Jimmy Hoffa the famous union organizer. Here we get a look of the man at work and Nicholson portrays him like an unstoppable machine (for a while.) Hoffa is willing to do anything and ally himself with anyone if it will increase the power of his union, giving truck drivers more weight to use against the owners. More than a suit, he wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty, which earned him the support of many working men. He also made a lot of powerful enemies. And, he is certainly no saint, even to his own allies, if it served the interests of the union. Perhaps he made himself too formidable of an opponent, as in the end there was only one way to handle a guy who wouldn't back down.
"Never let a stranger in your cab, in your house or in your heart... unless he is a friend of labor."
7. The Joker (Batman)
"Tell me something, my friend. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight? "
6. Francis Phelan (Ironweed)
"Goddamn dead men, traveling around together."
5.Robert Dupea (Five Easy Pieces)
"I move around a lot, not because I'm looking for anything really, but 'cause I'm getting away from things that get bad if I stay. "
4. "Badass" Buddusky (The Last Detail)
"Why does all of this make me feel so fucking bad?"
3. Jack Torrance (The Shining)
"I dreamed that I, that I killed you and Danny. But I didn't just kill ya. I cut you up in little pieces. Oh my God. I must be losing my mind."
2. Jake "J.J." Gittes (Chinatown)
"Sometimes you're better off not knowing."
1. R.P. McMurphy (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest)
"But I tried, didn't I? Goddamnit, at least I did that."