Nick Nolte was a rising star through the late 20th century, first making a breakthrough in Hollywood in 1976, following his appearance on the miniseries, Rich Man, Poor Man.
He went on to star in big-star films like Cape Fear, 48 Hrs., and The Prince of Tides before being named People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1992. After a few films he appeared in through the 2000s and early 2010s, we haven’t seen much of him. So, what’s he been up to?
In November last year, Nolte sat down for an over-the-phone interview with Insider regarding his current status on his acting career, having just turned 82 last week.
His most recent role (at the time) had been his part as Barry in the 2022 indie drama film, Rittenhouse Square, where Nolte played a homeless war veteran.
In the interview, Insider pointed out that he’d played a Vietnam war vet, an alcoholic, and a homeless person before, but this time he does “all three in the same role.”
Notorious for his extreme method acting techniques, Nolte responded, “Homelessness is something that intrigues me, the scope of the character you can apply to it. Like with Down and Out in Beverly Hills director, Paul Mazursky, asked me before we started shooting if I would go downtown and spend a few days outside and try to get into the homeless shelters. I went with a friend of Paul’s who is also an actor and we wore ratty clothes and we went downtown and it didn’t take long to get that feel.
“In one day, you feel you’re really out there,” he continued. “But we didn’t know the tricks of the street. For instance, when we went to get into a shelter they wouldn’t accept us because we hadn’t been on the streets long enough. They could see that. It was very impressive to be out there on the streets for those three or four days. There’s a lot to playing a homeless person.”
As far as consistently being a character who drinks profusely, he said, “Well, if you look at the average American family growing up in the 1950s in the Midwest like I did, they had this cocktail hour they did […] Smoking and drinking in films is just an art. That’s how you fill those moments of insecurity when you’re in dialogue with someone and the conversation stops. What do you do? You grab a cigarette or a drink. That was something taken from living during those times.”
Since Rittenhouse Square, Nolte made a guest appearance in the new Peacock original “murder-mystery-of-the-week” series, Poker Face, which stars Natasha Lyonne as a woman who travels the country encountering different murders and crimes that she tries to help solve with different groups of people in each episode, one of which being Nolte for the upcoming episode 8.
She talked with Andy Cohen on his show Watch What Happens Live last week about who she was most intimidated to work with on her new show, directed by Rian Johnson.
“I would say the episode that I co-wrote with Alice Ju and directed Nick Nolte,” she answered. “It’s coming up. It’s episode eight. And he was an intimidating but terrific guy. Because we’re both troublemakers, so we speak of the same English.”
So, it seems that Nolte has tried to keep himself busy with roles outside of the big screen Hollywood films. And according to his interview with Insider, there’s a reason for that.
“I’ve always had something artistic outside of myself that I can turn to, so I’m still interested in the stories,” he replied after being asked what makes him want to keep working as hard as he does at acting and if there is anything he’s still searching for regarding his career. “I don’t really know what they are, as there are fewer and fewer of them these days. And I don’t find the 80s particularly fun because you’re falling apart in a way. But I’ve always said that I’ll keep on going until I just can’t go anymore.”
When asked if there are any directors he’d want to work with, he answered, “It’s been a long while since a director championed my way of working.”
Nolte also has kept himself busy writing, making his authorial debut in 2018 with his memoir, Rebel.