By Miki Turner
Special to Page 2
NEW YORK -- Because he's a three-time Oscar winner, a notorious playboy with a penchant for women young enough to be his daughter, a guy whose 9-iron never met a car it didn't like and a courtside fixture at Los Angeles Lakers games, it would seem that Jack Nicholson would appear larger than life in person.
He's moving a little slower, has the girth of a past-his-prime college football coach who calms his nerves with a steady diet of stadium dogs, and the thinning hair of a man who's long past caring about his appearance.
Yet, he's still adorable.
Naughty and nice.
If there was an all-star team for rascals, the 66-year-old New Jersey native would be the consensus MVP.
In "Something's Gotta Give," Nicholson plays Harry Sanborn, a Viagra-popping man whose heart gives out while making love to his 20-something cutie (Amanda Peet). But after his cardiologist (Keanu Reeves) puts him on the abstinence diet, Harry ends up losing his heart to his girlfriend's 50-something mother (Diane Keaton).
In real life, older people fall for each other all the time, but it's rare for youth-obsessed Hollywood to feature actors past 40 in compromising positions. It's even more uncommon to see them in the buff.
There's definitely no shame in Keaton's game, but the Easy Rider might want to bop into 24-hour Fitness and tighten up before his next gluteus maxis close-up.
However, as Nicholson reflects with ESPN.com on those intimate moments with Keaton, his real-life dating habits, the Lakers and other such pertinent matters, it's clear that he's still got "game."
1. Diane Keaton said working with you was like standing in front of the Grand Canyon. She also talked about how much she liked seeing your naked rear end in the film. That's quite the compliment, eh?
Everybody likes it. It's the talk of the town, ain't it?
1A. What was it like working with Diane again?
I've always had tremendous affection for Keaton, as I think everyone else does. She really gives me tremendous energy working with her because, like me, she's pretty wild inside about fooling around. You can say anything to Diane. Sometimes in her preparation, she'll just look me in the eye and say, "You're disgusting!" (laughs). She's very unpredictable, which I like. She's very disciplined.
2. You have a reputation for dating younger women, and your character has this reputation for not dating anyone under 30. Is this a hard-and-fast rule for you?
It has nothing to do with me. First of all, I don't date. I can't make dates. I'm a little phobic about that. I date everybody -- all ages.
As I remember it -- flesh. That's basically what it's about. I've always felt far superior to a lot of fellows who do it. For them, it's like arm-piece stuff. They do it because it makes them look a certain way. I've never quite understood it, but have certainly observed it.
3. What's the craziest thing you've ever done for love?
(laughs) Well, I've made a few unexpected appearances. I've jumped through people's windows -- stuff like that. I'm always afraid it will disturb somebody if gifts are too extravagant, but I've thrown a few out. I've hidden on a roof ...
4. Speaking of crazy, what are your thoughts about the big-top Lakers this season?
Well, for me, it's entertainment. I just watch it. At the beginning of the season, it was hard on the fans because we thought they were just going to argue day and night about everything.
4A. Do you think the media blew the feuds out of proportion?
Since we all know what the newspaper business is, this stuff just makes their job really easy. I was just watching "Meet the Press" and "Face the Nation," and they were all on the irresistibility of the Michael Jackson story because it makes their job easy really. As you know, I have nothing against that.
4B. Are you pretty much just bored with all the drama?
The NBA is wonderful. I'm a connoisseur of it in that every season is different. You can tell what they're going to write on the sports pages -- and the basketball season is very long -- at the beginning of the year, unless something really huge gets in the middle of it. Mr. Bryant's legal situation ... there's no way they'd be able to get around that. As for most of the fans I know, it's not really an interesting story. Like all of these stories, everybody's not crazy to see it on television every day. We don't know anything. We know as much about this as we do the Iraq War.
5. Were you surprised by the allegations against Kobe Bryant?
No. Remember, he's never been by himself in his life. This was probably the first time he's been by himself in his entire life. He's been a prodigy since he was in sixth grade, and there's no telling ... but basically, it's not an interesting case. This is a man-woman picture. I'll try to lead you back to the picture. There are certain laws -- the 'no means no' law -- obviously to protect women. We all, as adults, know it's not right on the issue, but all men support it as well. ... In that context, whatever happened in there -- if anything at all happened -- a law has been violated. It's made this a catastrophe for all people involved.
I'm a Laker man.
5B. If Kobe goes to the Clippers, will you get seats?
(flatly) No. I see a lot of ballgames. It's entertainment. It doesn't rule me.
5C. Who will you leave your courtside seats to?
Probably the highest bidder. (laughs)
6. What is your favorite Laker moment?
Watching Magic (Johnson) trying to teach Vlade (Divac) how to run down the court in the middle of a game in the '80s.
6A. What other teams do you like?
Well, I was born a Yankees fan, and it's quite nice to see that franchise continue to win after all these years. And because of that, I became a 49er fan early on, because they were never winning big until the Montana years.
7. Let's get back to your game. You've been nominated for so many Oscars (12 times). Do you even have to campaign for them any more?
I never really did campaign for them -- certainly not early on. I just didn't feel comfortable with that. Early on, there wasn't the intensity of campaigning; and of course, other people would do some of that on my behalf. You know, I've gotten a little more relaxed about it now. I look at it like this: the Oscars are good for everybody. That's the single easiest thing you can say about them. Really, to be critical about them -- it's only signatory. It's not a real thing. I've always looked at them like this is a great night, everybody loves them and nobody is getting hurt. I, incidentally, never felt particularly popular with them. Remember, I may have won a few, but I've lost a lot of them!
I don't really know. I think people think I'm more physical than I am, I suppose. I'm not really confrontational. Of course, I have a temper, but that's sort of blown out of proportion.
8A. What's the one thing you're willing to give up in a relationship?
I'm kind of a realistic person, and I think a relationship has to supplement or augment both parties. I hope that I don't give up anything in relationships. I hope that I just add to the other person's life.
9. Last year, you got to see Kathy Bates naked; and this year, you got to see Diane Keaton. Who'd you like to see naked next year?
Well, I'm like you. I didn't really see her naked except on the screen. I wasn't standing off-camera or anything. But, don't she look great?
9A. Diane appears to be allowing herself to age naturally. Would you ever consider cosmetic surgery?
No. I wouldn't think about it; so naturally, no, I haven't. But I'm an actor who they said was wrinkled and balding when I was still in my early 30s. Most of the people who wrote that, who thought they were younger than me, are now bald and wrinkled. As you can see, I don't have any plugs or tucks, but let people do what they want. I look at it as mutilation.
9B. Are you more of a romantic, now that you're older?
Well, that might be the biggest misconception about me. I've always been a romantic. I'm a deep, sentimental romantic. I found doing this picture that one of the most refreshing things to me was I did a lot of things in this picture that I do in life. There's a vulnerability and a direct approach in a lot of the scenes. I'm of that generation that's just kind of off the side. I'll always look for a way to disarm the cliché situation and maybe make a funny remark, or turn it sideways, or whatever.
10. Do you have a Christmas memory that you can share that maybe wasn't so wonderful?
Well, I may be one of the few people you know who actually did receive coal in his stocking for being a bad boy for Christmas.
10A. What did you do to deserve that?
Oh, I cut one of the legs off our dining room table, and refused to cop.
10B. Harry is a hip hop producer in this movie. Are you a hip hop fan?
Well, I don't know everything that's out there, but I did bring my own personal hip hop compilation in for (director Nancy Meyers) to chose from. It goes all the way back to "Is that you Eddie?" by Milli Vanilli; and I like the ones who can actually sing, like P.M. Dawn or Destiny's Child. My favorite album this year, however, is "Boz Scaggs Standards."