Jack Nicholson is the true definition of a Hollywood icon. Throughout a 60 year career filled with seminal films and a record number of Academy Award nominations, he also cultivated a thrilling bad boy reputation. These days Jack has mostly retired from the public eye, but the next generation of Nicholson is now forging a path on our screens. And you won’t believe how much he looks like his father.
Ray Nicholson was born in 1992 as the second child of Jack and model Rebecca Broussard, who was 25 years Jack’s junior. But by the time Ray was two and his older sister Lorraine was almost four, their parents had broken up. Broussard chose to end things with Jack, in fact, and the rumor was she’d become involved with a younger actor.
Yet in an illuminating 1994 interview with Vanity Fair, both Jack and Broussard were adamant that Jack would always be in the children’s lives. And Jack spoke with great passion about his kids, beaming especially when talking about, “My man Ray.” He revealed, amusingly, that he wanted to name Ray “Landslide,” but Broussard vetoed the move.
“Ray may have a problem with being a little too good-looking,” joked Jack about his toddler son at the time. “Looks exactly like Rebecca.” He then added, “Most infants pretty much don’t have chins. But Ray always had a jaw. You can’t wait to get him into a collar or a shaving commercial.” Indeed, Vanity Fair described Jack as, “cuckoo about the kid.”
Before he made a legendary Oscar-winning film with “Cuckoo” in the title, though, Jack first broke out as a movie star in 1969’s counter-culture hit Easy Rider. He played alcoholic lawyer George Hanson, which earned him an Oscar nomination in 1970 for Best Supporting Actor. Then the following six years saw Jack cemented as arguably the best actor of his generation.
Because between 1970 and 1976 Jack received an unprecedented five Academy Award nominations. Following Easy Rider’s Best Supporting nod, he was nominated as Best Actor for Five Easy Pieces, The Last Detail and Chinatown, but he didn’t win any of them. Yet it was his performance in 1975’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest that finally saw him recognized.
In the 1980s Jack starred in Stanley Kubrick’s iconic horror movie The Shining, based on the Stephen King novel. Plus he won his second Academy Award for Terms of Endearment and starred in critically acclaimed hits like The Postman Always Rings Twice and The Witches of Eastwick. Then in 1989 he played supervillain the Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman, which became the fifth highest grossing film of all time.
Jack would spend the next few decades collecting more nominations for films like A Few Good Men, As Good As It Gets and About Schmidt. He also starred in crowd pleasers like romcom Something’s Gotta Give, the comedy Anger Management and Martin Scorsese’s Best Picture-winning crime epic The Departed. He last appeared on-screen in 2010’s How Do You Know.
But during his time in the spotlight, Jack gained a reputation as a ladies’ man. He was married to actress Sandra Knight from 1962 to 1968, but she ended things right as he was on the verge of stardom. They had one daughter together, named Jennifer, and when she moved away with her mother, it deeply hurt Jack.
Knight told Closer magazine in 2015, “We had a very beautiful, sweet marriage.” But, she added, “I could see Jack was going to become a big star and have lots of temptations. I couldn’t go along for the ride.” Marc Eliot, author of Nicholson: A Biography, theorized to Closer that, “Marriage was a hot stove. He touched it, got burned and never did it again.”
Despite never marrying again, Jack had no shortage of women in his life. Because he was with actress Anjelica Huston on-and-off for 17 years, though their relationship was marked by his numerous infidelities. And this alleged list included actress Candice Bergen, model Marie Helvin and famed Bond girl Jill St John. He even had an infamous affair with Margaret Trudeau, who was once first lady of Canada. Wow!
And in 1980 Jack began a two-year tryst with Winnie Holman, a Dutch model, and they had a daughter named Honey. But that’s not all. Susan Anspach, his co-star in Five Easy Pieces, also claimed the star was her son Caleb’s father, though Jack publicly disputed this until 1996. But perhaps Jack’s most important relationship, outside of Huston, was with Rebecca Broussard.
Jack first met Broussard when she was a waitress at Helena’s, a Los Angeles nightclub he was an investor in. In the 1994 piece, Broussard told Vanity Fair, “The first time Jack Nicholson touched my hand, I almost blacked out. I saw flashes of light. The minute I was introduced to him, I knew something was there.”
“I told myself, ‘Stop, Rebecca, he’s a movie star,’ but Jack was very smart and very odd… exciting and yet insecure, very vulnerable and sensitive,” revealed Broussard. “All the things you wouldn’t think he’d be.” The sparks flew so much that Broussard agreed to be with Jack while he was still in a relationship with Huston.
So how did things turn sour in their romance? Broussard told Vanity Fair that the only time she would talk about the breakup was to them in 1994, and to date she has kept her word. She said, “After I had my kids, I changed.” She also claimed that the other actor she’d been seeing had no bearing on her decision to leave Jack.
As for Jack, when asked if he still loved Broussard, he said, “Of course. I’m still in love with all the women I ever loved.” In the end, even though it had ended in heartache, he said he would do it all over again. He mused, “I trusted her too much. I’d trust again too much tomorrow night because I like her. She’s great.”
The breakdown of their family clearly hurt Broussard, too, as she confessed to Vanity Fair, “It’s difficult breaking up a family. Each day, when I look at my children, I’m reminded that it didn’t work out as a relationship.” In spite of this pain, though, she wasn’t going to let it affect her and Jack’s roles as parents.
“But as two parents, it will always work out,” Broussard stated. “Jack will always be in my life. We will always have each other and our children. Lorraine and Raymond are crazy about him.” Regarding his young daughter, Jack would tell Vanity Fair, “Lorraine is one of the great people, a totally unique human being. She’s already got her own theories, her own philosophies.”
Fast forward to 2012 and Jack gave a rare interview in which he opened up about his personal life. Speaking with The Sun newspaper, he first addressed the rumor that he has slept with over 2,000 women in his lifetime. Unsurprisingly, he confessed that the number is somewhat exaggerated, and that he himself had contributed to the rumor persisting.
“I am an extreme person,” he explained. “If someone says, ‘Jack, you are a womanizer,’ I don’t deny it.” But he also admitted that he worried his philandering days might catch up to him eventually. He said, “But the life of a gigolo always ends badly. That is one of the reasons I feel uncomfortable about all that ‘sex legend’ stuff.”
Contrary to his huge number of conquests, Jack talked about the women in his life who he’d been romantically involved with. The star said, “There are also women I have seen, intimately, for a very long time over my life. Unexpected, perhaps, but true.” So maybe the old lothario valued a genuine connection more than his public persona suggested.
Plus in 2015 Jack did admit to Closer that he still held out hope of finding one last connection. He revealed, “I would love that one last romance. But I’m not very realistic about it happening. What I can’t deny is my yearning.” Moving back to his 2012 interview, though, and Jack was able to pinpoint a bad trait which likely affected his relationships.
The Wolf star admitted to the newspaper, “Anger has always been a problem, and every once in a while, I just have to let it out. I always regret it later. After a couple of hours, I calm down and think, ‘What way could I have solved that problem other than blowing up?’”
Jack continued, “I should have learned how to do that long ago and that would have made my life easier – with less apologizing.” Appropriately, the star of Anger Management revealed he sought therapy to deal with his problem and found that it helped him greatly. Then, in a vintage Jack move, he joked about how he did therapy better than anyone else.
The star quipped to The Sun, “The therapist I use in Los Angeles says to me, ‘Jack, you are one of the best patients I’ve ever had.’ And I say, ‘Why is that, Sidney?’ He says, ‘You usually know what your problem is, you do what I tell you and that’s the end of the therapy.’”
And in relation to parental wisdom, Jack felt he had a lot to offer. He said, “I give out advice all the time. I say, ‘Do not lie, do not steal, and do not be afraid.’ Especially the last one. Fear stops us doing things. I also say it’s the things that you do not do in life that cause regret.” Coming from someone who has done it all, this sounded like great advice.
Jack did admit to some regrets about his parenting over the years, though. Talking about Jennifer, he confessed to The Sun , “I didn’t see enough of my eldest daughter because I was trying to make a career.” But he added, “I have a daughter, Lorraine, and a son, Raymond, with whom I was able to spend much more time.”
Speaking of Ray, it was in 2014 that the clear resemblance between Jack and his son emerged in the public conversation. Ray, then 22, was pictured smiling for the camera alongside his father at a theater fundraiser. As the MailOnline wrote, “With his wide features, strong jaw and confident grin he looks every inch like Jack Nicholson.”
The news website drew a parallel between the two men at age 22, noting that Jack made his big screen debut in 1959’s The Cry Baby Killer. By comparison, at that age Ray had already racked up two credits as assistant director for comedy drama A Reunion and television short Boots. In fact, MailOnline noted that Ray wanted to become a director.
Yet over the next few years it would be in front of the camera that Ray would find opportunities. He acted in several more short films, including Lexi and Micky, Mermaids, On Killer Robots, The Big Break and Samice. Then he started small in the world of film, playing the unnamed role of “American Stockbroker” in Jared Leto’s Netflix movie The Outsider.
In late 2018 Ray appeared in his biggest role to date. In the season one finale of Mayans M.C., the spin-off of the incredibly successful Sons Of Anarchy, Ray played a prospective member of the SOA motorcycle gang named Hallorann. His character returned in the second season of the show.
Creator Kurt Sutter spoke to Entertainment Weekly about how Ray wound up in the show. He said, “We’re buddies. I’m mentoring him. He’s such a sweet kid who’s a really good actor. And it was so fun for him.” Sutter then explained how Ray had a unique experience when trying to fit in with the established, testosterone-heavy cast.
“He doesn’t know the world, right?” laughed Sutter about Ray’s baptism of fire. “I think it was more about the experience of putting on that kutte and hanging out with those guys for a night. It was just an education for him. He walked away from that night saying, ‘I am such a pussy.’”
So Ray’s next few roles should see him capitalize on the boost in his profile given by Mayans M.C.. He has already appeared in the 2020 drama Now Is Everything alongside Sir Anthony Hopkins and will next be seen in Carey Mulligan’s dark comedy thriller Promising Young Woman. Plus he’s starring in Amazon’s Panic, a show based on Lauren Oliver’s best-selling novel.
Plus Ray isn’t the only one of Jack’s family currently following in his footsteps in Hollywood. Duke, Jack’s grandson, starred in Jordan Peele’s horror movie Us and appeared as a model on the cover of a Lana del Rey album. Duke told The Hollywood Reporter that he is close with his Uncle Ray, who is only seven years older than him.
And Duke spoke about the family spending Thanksgiving at his grandfather’s home. He revealed, “It’s usually pretty small. Me, my Uncle Ray, my Aunt Lorraine, my mom.” Duke’s mother is Jennifer, Jack’s first child, and he also has a brother named Sean, but they don’t get along so well. He explained, “We fought a lot as kids. Classic brother things.”
As The Hollywood Reporter noted, Duke bears a resemblance to Jack, not unlike Ray. They noted Duke’s similarity mostly comes from his brows and eyes, and his, “striking, almost menacing good looks.” Duke explained that he didn’t have a lightning bolt moment when it came to deciding he wanted to act.
“It wasn’t a big moment, like, ‘I want to be an actor,’” Duke said. “It was just a gradual thing.” And though you might think his grandfather would be a font of acting knowledge for Duke to learn from, he revealed he rarely speaks about the craft with Jack. Fittingly, given Jack’s love of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, they mostly watch sports together.
The Lakers are clearly important to the Nicholson family. And the last two times Jack was spotted in public, he was sitting courtside with Ray. In November 2018 the pair saw the team beat the Minnesota Timberwolves. Then in April 2019 they saw them lose to the Golden State Warriors. People magazine described Jack as, “visibly displeased” at that result. Oh well, you can’t win them all.
All in all, Ray seems almost as publicity shy as his father is these days. He has no social media accounts, and he’s yet to conduct an interview about himself or his career. Who knows, though, perhaps he has managed to pick his dad’s brain about Hollywood during their time together at the Lakers’ games. Could we soon see him emulate Jack’s leading man success?