Happy Birthday, Jack Nicholson! Watch 13 of His Best Performances

Jack Nicholson: national treasure, cultural icon, and one of the most fiercely talented and wonderful actors to emerge from Hollywood in the last century. For over fifty years now, the man known for his devilish grin, cunning charm, and unparalleled acting style has weaved his way through the American movie system, not only performing in some of the best films ever made, but writing, directing, producing, and helping to lead a movement that would later become cherished as a golden age of American cinema. “We were the first people in America who weren’t buying the American Dream,” Nicholson recalls of the early days of New Hollywood, alongside Dennis Hopper, Bruce Dern, Peter Fonda, Robert Towne, Warren Beatty, and Monte Hellman.

And when you look the scope of young talent today, there’s surely no shortage of male actors with promise, but there will never be anyone quite like Jack. Imagine seeing him in Five Easy Pieces for the first time in 1970—this explosion of charisma and skill wrapped up in a man who could break your heart with single wink or slight of smile. Henry Jaglom once said, “A funny thing happened to Jack Nicholson on his way to becoming a director. He became a star instead.” And throughout his incredible, varied and vast career, he’s has lent his versatility to directors from Antonioni to Kubrick, Scorsese to Ashby, and Polanski to Hopper, taking on every genre with ease, embodying every role to utmost human ability but always with that signature magic that makes him Jack.

So let’s take some time to appreciate the beacon of brilliance with the most enticing set of pointed eyebrows and the greatest laugh in the world, Mr. Jack Nicholson, in some of his best performances. Enjoy.

Robert Dupea in Five Easy Pieces (1970) – Available to watch on iTunes

David Locke in The Passenger (1975) – Available to watch on Vudu

Eugene O’Neill in Reds (1980) – Available to watch on iTunes / YouTube

Col. Nathan R. Jessup in A Few Good Men (1992) – Available to watch on iTunes / Amazon

J.J Gittes in Chinatown (1976) – Available to watch on Netflix

R.P. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) – Available to watch on iTunes / Amazon

Melvin Udall in As Good As It Gets (1997) – Available to watch on iTunes / Amazon

Buddusky in The Last Detail (1973) – Available to watch on iTunes / Amazon

Frank Costello in The Departed (2008) – Available to watch on iTunes / Amazon

George Hanson in Easy Rider (1969) – Available to watch on iTunes / Amazon

David Staebler in The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) – Available to watch on iTunes / Amazon

Jack Torrence in The Shining (1980) – Available to watch on iTunes / Amazon

The Joker in Batman (1989) – Available to watch on iTunes / Amazon

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