Why You Rarely Hear About Jack Nicholson Nowadays

Jack Nicholson's filmography spans more than five decades. Through movies like "Easy Rider" (1969), "Five Easy Pieces" (1970), and "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" (1975), Nicholson has long been recognized for his roles playing compelling outsiders, per Biography. From a sinister mob boss to the Joker to a writer who slowly goes insane, Nicholson has brought to life some of the most unforgettable characters — and iconic lines — in movie history. According to Business Insider, he is among a small group of actors, including Meryl Streep and Daniel-Day Lewis, to have won three Academy Awards. He is also the male actor with the most Academy Award nominations, with a whopping 12, per Insider. So, naturally, his absence from Hollywood for the last decade or so has been noticed and felt by audiences.

Although he has never officially announced his retirement from the film industry, Nicholson has not appeared on the big screen since 2010 and, despite a few false starts, he does not show any signs of returning. Has Hollywood grown tired of him? Has he grown tired of Hollywood? Or is something else keeping him shaded from the limelight? Let's investigate.

Jack Nicholson's last movie was a major flop

The romantic comedy "How Do You Know" hit screens in 2010. The movie was full of big names — including Jack Nicholson, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, and Reese Witherspoon — who usually star in blockbusters. But the movie was a failure both critically and commercially, making just over a third of its $120 million budget back and receiving generally negative reviews. In 2014, the Los Angeles Times named "How Do You Know" among "the costliest box office flops of all time." Veteran film critic Roger Ebert published a review of the film with the title "Jack made a dull boy," playing on Nicholson's iconic line in Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining."

Nicholson made a name for himself in "The Shining" and other classic movies that were both commercial and critical triumphs, including "Easy Rider" and "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." As his multi-decade career went on, Nicholson took on several lackluster roles, including, "The Bucket List" and "Anger Management." Once "How Do You Know" became one of the biggest failures of his career, it's possible that Nicholson decided to stop tainting his own legacy by agreeing to mediocre film roles.

Jack Nicholson has turned down several movie roles in the last decade

Despite some of his less fortunate film choices, Jack Nicholson has starred in a few late-career triumphs, including "The Departed" (2006), "As Good As It Gets" (1997), and "About Schmidt" (2002). But he has also passed over some quality roles that other veteran actors ended up taking on with notable success. Following the accomplishment of "About Schmidt," the movie's director, Alexander Payne, offered Nicholson the lead role in his 2013 movie "Nebraska," according to Film Stories. For whatever reason, Nicholson turned the role down and it eventually went to Bruce Dern, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Nicholson also reportedly had a role in developing the movie "St. Vincent" with writer-director Theodore Melfi. He was rumored to star in the lead role, which ultimately went to Bill Murray, who was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in the Best Actor, Musical or Comedy category.

It's unclear why Nicholson turned down these strong roles, especially as they could have helped him recover from the misfiring that was "How Do You Know." The decision most likely had less to do with the roles themselves and more to do with Nicholson's general lack of desire to act.

Jack Nicholson almost starred in a remake of a German comedy

In February 2017, Variety reported that Jack Nicholson would star in the English-language adaptation of the 2016 German film "Toni Erdmann." The original movie followed a dad trying to reconnect with his daughter, per the outlet. Coincidentally, Bill Murray had also been interested in the lead role, after Nicholson failed to express interest in "How Do You Know" and he had taken the lead role in "St. Vincent" after Nicholson turned it down, per IMDb.

When the news of the movie broke, Kristen Wiig was announced as set to star in the role of Nicholson's character's daughter. Paramount Pictures held the remake rights, with Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Wiig among its producers. It was later announced that writing-directing duo Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner were also attached to the project, according to The Film Stage.

Alas, 18 months after the remake was announced, Nicholson had dropped the role for unknown reasons. Ferrell, McKay, and Wiig remained attached to the movie, while Dunham and Konner had also jumped ship. According to IMDb, the "Toni Erdmann" remake remains "in development" as of 2021.

Jack Nicholson's view of Hollywood has changed as he's aged

In a 2013 interview for The Sun, Jack Nicholson admitted some of the allure of Hollywood had worn off with age. "I'm not going to work until the day I die, that's not why I started this," he said. "I mean, I'm not driven. I was driven — but I'm not, I don't have to be out there anymore. In fact, there's part of me that never really liked being out there. I learned how to function within 'out there.' Then you get older, you change. I mean, I'm not a loner, I'm not a recluse, but I don't need all that anymore. I don't enjoy it, simple as that."

Nicholson added that taking on new roles is often a source of stress for him. "Most times I can think of other actors who would be better in the part," he said. "I worry from the moment I take a job, I worry about how I'm going to do it if I can do it."

He went on to discuss his thoughts on the changing movie landscape. "The movie business is the greatest business but I only want to do films that move people, films about emotions and people," he said. "I had the most chilling thought that maybe people in their twenties and thirties don't actually want to be moved any more. They may want just to see more bombs, more explosions, because that is what they have grown up with. And I'll never do that type of movie."

Jack Nicholson no longer has the desire to go out and chase women

At the height of his career, Jack Nicholson had a reputation for being a playboy. He dated famous women, including Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas, supermodel Janice Dickinson, and actors Laura Flynn Boyle and Anjelica Huston. In 2013, he told The Sun that his priorities had changed. "I'm still wild at heart but I've hit bio-gravity," he said. "I can't hit on women in public anymore. I didn't decide this, it just doesn't feel right at my age ... If men are honest, everything they do and everywhere they went was for a chance to see women. A lot of me being an actor was about that, and about me."

Today, Nicholson is a homebody, spending most of his time at his house on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. "There's only a certain amount of times a woman wants to see you and never go out for dinner," he said. "I got tired of arguing with women about going to have dinners so I hired a cook. The food is better at my house. But still, a lot of times ladies want to go out, and I'm happier in my dinky little house."