130 Jack Nicholson Quotes on Acting, Life, Love, and Work

This collection of Jack Nicholson quotes will show how talented he’s as an actor, so if you’re a fan, then check this out.

Without a doubt, Jack Nicholson is one of the greatest actors of his generation.

He received many awards for his outstanding performances. Nicholson is famous for the sheer number of iconic roles he has portrayed.

His boundless enthusiasm and incredible ability to play diverse characters are amazing.

He is one of Hollywood’s best actors in the movie industry.

Go through the full list to learn more about his well-known quotes.

Let’s get started.

And don’t forget to check out these Bill Murray quotes and Denzel Washington quotes.

Best Jack Nicholson Quotes

1. “Just let the wardrobe do the acting.” 

2. “I’m not a power person. I like everyone to be on an equal footing.”

3. “I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.”

4. “I learned a long time ago in Hollywood that the only person I should vote for is myself.”

5. “You only lie to two people in your life—your girlfriend and the police. Everybody else you tell the truth to.”

6. “I’m a new wave baby, so I got very stimulated by foreign films.” 

7. “I hate advice unless I’m giving it. I hate giving advice, because people won’t take it.” 

8. “Temper is the one thing you can’t get rid of, by losing it.”

9. “I would never say, ‘I’m retired.’ I believe if I decided to just not work, in six months everybody would just forget whether you were working or not.” 

10. “Having kids is the most innately positive thing that anyone can do.” 

11. “It’s difficult for people sometimes to recognize when they’re happy. People sometimes seem to me to be afraid to be happy.”

12. “Age is the first limitation on roles that I’ve ever had to encounter, and I hit that awhile ago.” 

13. “Just because you’re a perfectionist doesn’t mean you’re perfect.”

14. “The minute that you’re not learning, I believe you’re dead.” 

15. “The only way to break a bad habit was to replace it with a better habit.”

Related: Anthony Hopkins Quotes

Famous Jack Nicholson Quotes

16. “I don’t think many people have a very good understanding of leisure and the importance it plays in our lives.”

17. “What’s beautiful is all that counts, pal. That’s all that counts.”

18. “Acting is everybody’s favorite second job.”

19. “If you get an impulse in a scene, no matter how wrong it seems, follow the impulse. It might be something and if it ain’t—take two!”

20. “I’m Irish. I think about death all the time.”

21. “With comedy, you have to do it right. In a drama, there’s a lot of different ways to succeed in a moment. But comedy comes from reality. You can’t try to be funny.”

22. “I don’t want people to know what I’m actually like. It’s not good for an actor.”

23. “My mother never saw the irony in calling me a ‘son-of-a-bitch.’”

24. “It’s a slight stretch of the imagination but most people are alike in most ways so I’ve never had any trouble identifying with the character that I’m playing.”

25. “In other words, I wouldn’t like to be an actor if I could only be real. I like to get wild—behaviorally wild—and it’s crazy to think of any form where it’s just one way.”

26. “I didn’t know that my sister was really my mother until I was thirty-seven years old. But life has taught me that there have been a lot of things that I didn’t know.”

27. “I don’t have any plugs or tucks, but people do what they want. I look at it as mutilation.”

28. “There is no way you can get people to believe you on screen if they know who you really are through television.”

29. “With my sunglasses on, I’m Jack Nicholson. Without them, I’m fat and 60.”

30. “I’m an actor who they said was wrinkled and balding and everything else when I was in my early 30’s. Most of the people who wrote that who thought they were younger than me are now bald and wrinkled.” 

Jack Nicholson Quotes About Speaking the Truth

31. “You can follow the action, which gets you good pictures. You can follow your instincts, which’ll probably get you in trouble. Or, you can follow the money, which nine times out of ten will get you closer to the truth.”

32. “Well, the truth can’t hurt you. If you’re a bum, you’re a bum.”

33. “I have never lied to you. I have always told you some version of the truth.”

34. “There’s one thing I learned about the truth—a little bit goes a long way.”

35. “You know what they used to say in the old days? Tell me now or else I’m going to find out about it anyway.”

36. “You can’t handle the truth!”

Jack Nicholson Quotes to Build Your Self-Confidence

37. “I’m the only guy who knows what in the hell I’m doing!”

38. “If it works, that’s the method.”

39. “You’re very beautiful and you think men are only interested in you because you’re beautiful, but you want them to be interested in you because you’re you.”

40. “Clothes make the man, they say.”

41. “It’s very easy to go down, so always live up. Incline yourself upward.”

42. “I’m the last guy in the world to feel overlooked by the Academy.”

Jack Nicholson Quotes About Ambition 

43. “A man makes his own way. No one gives it to you. You have to take it.”

44. “Hey, that’s easy. Someday, I’m gonna organize the crooks.”

45. “I’m not a crook, I’m ambitious. There’s a difference.”

46. “Fuck that. Someday, I’m gonna be president of the teamsters.”

Jack Nicholson Quotes on Acting and Making Films

47. “Once I started acting, I loved it.”

48. “Once you’ve been really bad in a movie, there’s a certain kind of fearlessness you develop.”

49. “I wanted to be the best actor possible. I worked very hard at the craft of it. ”

50. “In this industry, there are only two ways up the ladder—rung by rung or claw your way to the top. It’s sure been tough on my nails.”

51. “I know I can act. There aren’t too many other jobs I know how to do.”

52. “Well, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I haven’t been a rogue most of my life.”

53. “Frankly, I got into the movies because I like the movies a lot.”

54. “There’s a period just before you start a movie when you start thinking, ‘I don’t know what in the world I’m going to do.’ It’s free-floating anxiety. In my case though, this is over by lunch on the first day of shooting.”

55. “Most of the early part of an actor’s career, you do the jobs you get.”

56. “I’m content with the fact that I made a decent effort. That’s what I’ve always worried about—that I wouldn’t try hard enough.”

57. “The average celebrity meets, in one year, ten times the amount of people that the average person meets in his entire life.”

58. “I’ve never been able to say I’ve been influenced by a list of artists I like because I like thousands and thousands and I’ve been influenced in some way by all of them.”

59. “When I am cast in a movie where I feel that the woman’s part is more interesting, I usually start thinking about Spencer Tracy and Fred Astaire. They seem to be the most clear actors when working with women.”

60. “My whole career strategy has been to build a base so that I could take the roles I want to play.”

61. “I like to not care that much about criticism, but I do care about it.”

Notable Quotes From Jack Nicholson 

62. “Life doesn’t have to be about finding Osama bin Laden or becoming the president of the United States. Life is about the little things, which is one of the things you learn when you get older.”

63. “If men are honest, everything they do and everywhere they go is for a chance to see women.”

64. “When I was in high school, I earned the pimple award and every other gross-out award.”

65. “People who speak in metaphors should shampoo my crotch.”

66. “Beer—it’s the best damn drink in the world.”

67. “For an actor, style comes last. You first have to implement the whole thing, but your style comes from the subconscious—which is the best part an actor brings to his work. These conscious ideas are only the springboard for what you hope will be the real meat from the unconscious.”

68. “The problem with you, kid, is you don’t know who you’re kidding.”

69. “We follow orders, son. We follow orders or people die. It’s that simple.”

70. “When a woman unloads a husband, or a husband unloads a woman—however it happens, death, desertion, divorce—the three D’s, when that happens, a woman blooms. She blooms. Like flowers. Like fruit. She is ripe.”

71. “I’m trying to be a gentleman here. Now, get on your knees, put your ass in the air, and don’t move until I say so.”

72. “In every conflict, there are casualties. The question is, what has been lost and what has been gained?”

73. “When you decide to be something, you can be it. That’s what they don’t tell you in the church.”

74. “In the movies now, so much of what is appealing to an audience is the dramatic or has to do with science fiction, and Schmidt is simply human. There’s no melodrama; there’s no device, It’s just about a human being.”

75. “You’re anachronistic when you know that your feelings aren’t going to have any effect on anything.”

76. “Human beings are always going to find interesting ways of making a mess of their lives. It’s human nature.”

Jack Nicholson Quotes That Will Tell You About His Views on Life

77. “My motto is more good times.”

78. “In my last year of school, I was voted class optimist and class pessimist. Looking back, I realize I was only half right.”

79. “I usually don’t get too bogged down with my personal problems because that’s a one-way street if you get yourself into a negative frame of mind and only see the dark side of life.”

80. “We are going as fast as we can as soon as we can. We’re in a race against time, until we run out of money.”

81. “A lot of people can’t remember things because they weren’t actually there to begin with—they don’t take it all in.”

82. “I’m very contra my constituency in terms of abortion because I’m positively against it. I don’t have the right to any other view. My only emotion is gratitude, literally, for my life.”

83. “I’m fairly well off. I can’t poor-mouth that away from people’s sensibilities about me, which is something I worry about as an actor. But it would be real stupid of me to do something for the money.”

84. “I sort of understood that when I first started that you shouldn’t repeat a success. Very often you’re going to, and maybe the first time you do, it works. And you love it. But then you’re trapped.”

85. “A few years from now, if you can still portray a human being, you’ll be quite a valuable commodity. I intend to be there.”

86. “Because you know, down deep in my heart, when all is said and done, I still live under the illusion that basically people think of me as an up-and-coming young actor.”

87. “I’d hate to think that a shorter part might not be available because I was worried about my billing.”

88. “The blues and jazz will live forever—so will the Delta and the Big Easy.”

89. “A star on a movie set is like a time bomb. That bomb has got to be defused so people can approach it without fear.”

90. “Not that I can think of. I’m sure there are some, but my mind doesn’t go there. When you look at life retrospectively, you rarely regret anything that you did, but you might regret things that you didn’t do.” 

91. “I used to think that one of the great signs of security was the ability to just walk away.”

Jack Nicholson Quotes to Show You What He Thinks of Love and Relationships

92. “Well, a girlfriend once told me never to fight with anybody you don’t love.”

93. “I’m definitely still wild at heart.”

94. “Almost everybody’s happy to be a fool for love.”

95. “I’m not hard to get along with.”

96. “I can’t hit on women in public any more. I didn’t decide this; it just doesn’t feel right at my age.”

97. “I would never complain about my life, even though I really would like to have a mate.”

98. “There were points in my life where I felt oddly irresistible to women. I’m not in that state now and that makes me sad.”

99. “I always knew there wasn’t going to be anybody to help me and emotionally support me—that whatever I did, I’d have to do on my own.”

100. “It’s not like I’m starved for company. I have a few very good lady friends, but there’s only a certain amount of times a woman wants to see you and never goes out for dinner.”

101. “I just like art. I get pure pleasure from it. I have a lot of wonderful paintings, and every time I look at them, I see something different.”

102. “I never had a policy about marriage. I got married very young in life and I always think in all relationships, I’ve always thought that it’s counterproductive to have a theory on that.”

103. “I don’t have any fear of intimacy, but rather thrive on it, which is rare in a public person.”

104. “Well, a younger woman is a type, but not necessarily a type for me. And what is a younger woman? I mean, I’m pretty old. Almost everyone is younger.”

105. “If you think you’re attractive, you’re always attractive.”

106. “I’ve never loved anybody this way. Never look at a woman and think, if civilization fails, if the world ends, I’ll still understand what God meant.”

Meaningful Jack Nicholson Quotes to Ponder On

107. “I’ve always had an urge to feed my need to have fun and feel free. I don’t see any interesting alternatives.”

108. “The whole thing is to keep working, and pretty soon, they’ll think you’re good.”

109. “I am a person who is trained to look other people in the eye. But I can’t look into the eyes of everyone who wants to look into mine; I can’t emotionally cope with that kind of volume. Sunglasses are part of my armor.”

110. “You look at someone long enough, you discover their humanity.”

111. “There’s nobody in there that he didn’t, in the most important way, support. He was my life blood to whatever I thought I was going to be as a person. And I hope he knows that this is not all hot air. I’m going to cry now.”

112. “Sarcasm is anger’s ugly cousin.”

113. “Men dominate because of physicality, and thus, they have mercy where women do not.”

114. “You may think me crazy, but I know music. It’s the one thing that makes me humble.”

115. “When we make mistakes, they call it evil. When God makes mistakes, they call it nature!”

More Memorable Quotes From Jack Nicholson Movies

116. “Relatively soon, I will die. Maybe in 20 years, maybe tomorrow, it doesn’t matter. Once I am dead and everyone who knew me dies too, it will be as though I never existed.”

117. “I don’t know if you’d be particularly interested in hearing anything about me.”

118. “We live, we die, and the wheels on the bus go round and round.”

119. “Wendy, darling, light of my life. I’m not gonna hurt you. I’m just gonna bash your brains in. I’m gonna bash them right the fuck in.”

120. “Somewhere, some lucky guy’s having a heart attack.”

121. “As something of an expert in diseases, I believe more people die from visitors than diseases.”

122. “Oh, we’re all going to die soon. I will, you will, and it sure sounds like your son will.”

123. “She was gonna die anyway. Her time was up.”

124. “I must be crazy to be in a loony bin like this.” 

125. “One of us had to die. With me, it tends to be the other guy.”

126. “Words of wisdom, Lloyd my man. Words of wisdom.”

127. “Just because I told you my story, does not invite you to be a part of it!”

128. “What is that, some sort of Latin concept, kill the one you love?”

129. “You make me want to be a better man.”

130. “Not a thing, doc.”

Which of Jack Nicholson’s Notable Characters Is Your Favorite?

Nicholson was famous for his iconic roles. He made his debut as an alcoholic Southern lawyer in the 1969 classic road movie, Easy Rider. He also has an incredible ability to represent a variety of personas.

Jack Nicholson is one of the greatest artists of his generation. One of the contributing factors for this might be his unusual family background. He only learned about the real identity of his parents a decade after his mother’s death. 

Sometimes, we have to act or appear to be someone else to survive and keep our loved ones by our sides. These quotes will provide expert guidance on how to do it without losing your true identity.

Which Jack Nicholson quote best characterized him as an actor? Let’s discuss it in the comments area below.

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