Family & Companions
Hollywood leading man Nick Nolte built a solid career playing a wide range of roles, but the actor really stood out when he inhabited characters whose rough exterior belied a complex, sensitive world within. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his breakout role in the miniseries "Rich Man, Poor Man" (ABC, 1975) and went on to enjoy box office success with "North Dallas Forty" (1979) and the huge action-comedy hit "48 Hours" (1982), one of his most recognized roles. Nolte delivered a memorable turn in "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" (1986) before he stepped into Gregory Peck's shoes for Martin Scorsese's remake of "Cape Fear" (1991) and received an Oscar nomination for his leading role in "The Prince of Tides" (1991). A second Academy Award nod came his way with his performance in "Affliction" (1998), though his career was briefly overshadowed by his DUI arrest in 2002 and the media saturation of his embarrassing mug shot. The lingering effects cursed Nolte's next few efforts, though he regained respect with "The Good Thief" (2003), "Hotel Rwanda" (2004) and the Ben Stiller comedy "Tropic Thunder" (2008), proving his best years were far from being behind him.
Throughout his career, Nolte openly admitted to lying to the press about details of his personal life. However, it was generally agreed that Nick Nolte was born in Omaha, NE on Feb. 8, 1941. His 6'6" father came from a long line of hearty Germans and agricultural equipment dealers. Nolte's mother was a bit of a non-conformist who worked as a buyer for a department store and instilled independence in her two sons. Nolte - the shortest of the clan at only 6'1" - was a solid football player and the game was his ticket to college. His football record was not enough to keep him from flunking out of Arizona State and Eastern Arizona College, however. Ultimately, he ended up in California at Pasadena City College.
While in Pasadena, a friend brought Nolte to a performance of "Death of a Salesman" at the famed Pasadena Playhouse. It made a huge impact on Nolte, who had never harbored dreams of acting previously, causing him immediately signed up for the Playhouse training program. He quit school, and with no other life paths calling out to him, Nolte landed a job as an iron worker while continuing to train in Pasadena, as well as with the Stella Adler workshop in L.A. He moved to Laurel Canyon, then well known as a hotbed of counterculture types, artists, and drugs. Over the next 14 years, Nolte lived in Phoenix, Minneapolis, and New York, appearing in regional dramatic productions in all three cities. While in Phoenix, Nolte received critical notice for his performance in the William Inge play "The Last Pad." In 1973, Inge called upon Nolte to revise the role for a production in Los Angeles. Nolte gladly accepted the job, but on the evening of the first performance, the playwright committed suicide. The real-life tragedy resulted in a huge amount of macabre interest in the play, significantly raising the unknown actor's profile and earning him a Best Actor nomination from the L.A. Drama Critics.
Nolte spent the next three years in small TV roles, finally catching his big break at the age of 35 by playing the 17-year-old lead in the ABC miniseries "Rich Man, Poor Man" (1976). The series was a cultural phenomenon, with Nolte earning a Golden Globe nomination for his role as rebellious younger brother Tom Jordache, not to mention a legion of female fans who wondered who this hunky blond newcomer was. Now under pressure to make his next move, Nolte turned down an offer for "Superman" (1978), was turned down for "Apocalypse Now"(1979) and landed in an adaptation of Peter Benchley's ocean-set thriller "The Deep" (1977). He showcased his talents playing a morally conflicted Vietnam vet in "Who'll Stop the Rain" (1978) and began making his mark playing louts and hell-raisers in the classic football film "North Dallas Forty" (1979) and the arty film "Heartbeat" (1980), where he inhabited Beat-era literary legend Neal Cassady. One could begin to see the actor's attraction to playing outsiders; men whose personal goals were at odds with the system.
Nolte made his first big commercial impact opposite newcomer Eddie Murphy in "48 Hours" (1982). A classic in the cop-buddy action-comedy genre, Nolte played a grizzled cop thrown in the mix with Murphy, a convict who has been temporarily released to help solve a murder. By now, Nolte's real-life alcoholic tendencies were no secret, and his decline was reprimanded by no less than Katherine Hepburn, his co-star in "The Ultimate Solution of Grace Quigley" (1985). Hepburn commented "I hear you've been dead drunk in every gutter in town, and it has to stop." Nolte's sardonic response: "I can't stop. I've got a few more gutters to go." Nolte drew on his experience in the gutter for a memorable role in Paul Mazursky's "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" (1986), reportedly living on the streets for weeks to prepare for his role as a suicidal homeless man. Following the release of the film, Nolte finally entered rehab and began putting the pieces of his life together. In 1990, he was outstanding as a villainous cop in Sidney Lumet's "Q & A" (1990). The sequel "Another 48 Hours" (1990) - a job he admitted taking strictly for the paycheck - was a pale imitation of its precursor, but Nolte rebounded as the lawyer whose past comes back to haunt him in "Cape Fear" (1991). Sober and on a roll, Nolte was nominated for an Oscar and took home a Golden Globe for Barbra Streisand's "The Prince of Tides" (1991). He was the perfect choice to convey the private pain of Tom Wingo, whose breakdown in Streisand's arms was one of the high points of the romantic drama. That same year, Nolte was the subject of a New York Magazine article that called him the "dysfunctional version of the Hollywood leading man. Nolte is himself a recovering alcoholic and former drug abuser, who has been through divorce three times and a palimony suit once, and the misery shows in his work." Critics were divided over Nolte's next outing, the heavy-handed "Lorenzo's Oil" (1992), and unanimously opposed to James L. Brooks' Hollywood satire "I'll Do Anything" (1994). Likewise, the Julia Roberts vehicle "I Love Trouble" (1994) and Merchant-Ivory's historical drama "Jefferson in Paris" (1995) were critical and box office disappointments. Sober Nolte made the decision to focus on roles that interested him rather than following the money trail of his previous string of duds.
The result was a run of more artistic, left of center films. He starred as a Los Angeles detective in the brutal neo noir "Mulholland Falls" (1996), and in quick succession, turned out two of the most compelling performances of his career; first, as the charismatic, womanizing husband in Alan Rudolph's "Afterglow" (1997) and his Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated turn in Paul Schrader's "Affliction" (1997), in which Nolte delivered a gripping performance as an emotionally wracked New England policeman determined not to slip into his father's bitter, alcoholic shoes. He turned out an intense performance in the all-star ensemble cast of Terence Malick's "The Thin Red Line" (1998), the World War II opus earning an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.
Nolte's next few pictures were low-profile, but in 2002 he received strong notices for his leading role in Neil Jordan's "The Good Thief," playing an aging gambler plotting one last heist on the French Riviera. The night of the film's premiere at the San Sebastian Film Festival, the actor made headline news: Nolte was arrested that night in Malibu for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. His infamous mug shot circulated like wildfire throughout the media. Unfortunately the photo of Nolte with his rumpled Hawaiian shirt, rats' nest hair, and vacant eyes overshadowed "The Good Thief" and reduced the undeniably talented actor to the butt of jokes. Not surprisingly, Nolte checked into a rehab facility in Connecticut before making an ambitious return to the big screen in the expected blockbuster "Hulk" (2003), which fizzled at the box office. He began to regain his reputation with a small role as a UN peacekeeper in 2004's powerful, critically-acclaimed "Hotel Rwanda" (2004), and as part of the film's cast, was nominated for his first SAG award.
Nolte's own personal journey was probably at the heart of his decision to star in "Peaceful Warrior" (2006), a story of spiritual mentoring based on the classic tome The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, but the film was panned for its heavy handedness and Nolte's personal image detracting from the film's message. While awaiting the delayed release of Nolte's next film, "Mysteries of Pittsburgh" (2007) in the fall of 2007, Nolte's personal life hit the headlines once again. This time he was congratulated for becoming a second-time father at the age of 66. (Nolte's other offspring, Brawley, a son from his third marriage, was a promising actor who had appeared alongside Mel Gibson in the film "Ransom" (1996).) Meanwhile, Nolte co-starred in the action comedy, "Tropic Thunder" (2008), which depicted a group of prima donna actors left in the jungles of Vietnam for an all-too-real taste of war. After turns in "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore" (2010) and the much-maligned remake of "Arthur" (2011), Nolte earned critical praise for his role as a formerly abusive father whose two estranged brothers enter a mixed martial arts tournament in "Warrior" (2011). Nolte's powerful performance earned widespread praise and put the actor back into the public's good graces thanks to a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 2012 Academy Awards.
Fresh off his acclaimed turn in "Warrior," Nolte returned to television for the first time since "Rich Man, Poor Man" to join the cast of creator David Milch's ensemble drama "Luck" (HBO, 2011-12). An insider's look at the lives of various denizens in and around a Los Angeles area racetrack, "Luck" starred fellow Hollywood icon Dustin Hoffman and featured Nolte as an aging trainer-owner looking to hit the big time with his promising young horse. Created by David Milch and co-produced by Michael Mann (who directed the pilot episode), "Luck" met with exceptional reviews and strong ratings. However, amidst the accolades, concerns and criticism over the deaths of two horses during production threatened to change the fortunes of the show for the worse. When a third thoroughbred died in March 2012, HBO scrapped the planned second season and cancelled the show altogether. Nolte rebounded with a co-starring role in Robert Redford's '60s-radicals drama "The Company You Keep" (2012) and supporting roles in Ruben Fleischer's stylized period drama "Gangster Squad" (2013) and the action thriller "Parker" (2013), starring Jason Statham as the criminal mastermind created by Donald E. Westlake under the pen name Richard Stark. After appearing in the indie dramas "Hateship Loveship" (2013) and "The Trials of Cate McCall" (2013), Nolte returned to television in the short-run police drama "Gracepoint" (Fox 2014), an American adaptation of the British series "Broadchurch" (ITV 2013). Nolte reteamed with Redford in "A Walk in the Woods" (2015), based on humorist Bill Bryson's memoir of his attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Auditioned for the Pasadena Playhouse at age 23
Joined Old Log Theatre in Minneapolis, MN
Moved to Los Angeles to reprise his Phoenix stage performance in William Inge's "The Last Pad," gaining an agent and some film and TV work
Made TV debut in an episode of ABC series "Griff"
Appeared in the TV pilot "Winter Kill" (ABC)
Made feature film debut in "Return to Macon County"
Gained attention in Emmy-nominated role as black sheep Tom Jordache in TV miniseries "Rich Man, Poor Man" (ABC)
Played drug-smuggling Vietnam vet in "Who'll Stop the Rain"; film adapted from Robert Stone's novel <i>Dog Soldiers</i>
Co-starred as disillusioned pro wide receiver in "North Dallas Forty"
Starred opposite Debra Winger in "Cannery Row"
Played opposite Eddie Murphy (in his screen debut) in action comedy "48 Hours"
Portrayed Russell Price, a photographer covering the Nicaraguan revolution, in "Under Fire"
Starred as a bum who wreaks havoc in the home of a rich couple in Paul Mazursky's "Down and Out in Beverly Hills"
Portrayed a New York artist in "Life Lessons," the Martin Scorsese-directed segment of the anthology film "New York Stories"
Starred in Sidney Lumet's police corruption drama "Q&A"
Reunited with Eddie Murphy in "Another 48 Hours"
Reteamed with Debra Winger for "Everybody Wins"; Arthur Miller's first screenplay since "The Misfits"
Reteamed with Scorsese for the remake of "Cape Fear"; played the role Gregory Peck created in 1962 original
Co-starred with Barbra Streisand in "The Prince of Tides"; received Oscar nomination as Best Actor
Starred opposite Susan Sarandon in "Lorenzo's Oil"
Cast as hard-driving college basketball coach in "Blue Chips"
Played Thomas Jefferson in the Merchant-Ivory production "Jefferson in Paris"
Starred in "Mother Night," adapted from the Kurt Vonnegut novel
Starred opposite Julie Christie in Alan Rudolph's romantic drama "Afterglow"
Appeared in war drama "The Thin Red Line," directed by Terence Malick
Won second Oscar nomination for his performance as a middle-aged, small-town man in Paul Schrader's "Affliction"; also executive produced
Played a cross-dressing car salesman in "Breakfast of Champions," directed by Alan Rudolph
Co-starred opposite Jeff Bridges and Sharon Stone in the drama "Simpatico," based on the play by Sam Shepard
Had featured role as a politician involved in a scandal in "Trixie"; helmed by Alan Rudolph
Cast as an American billionaire in the Merchant-Ivory "The Golden Bowl"; adapted from the Henry James novel
Returned to stage acting opposite Sean Penn in Sam Shepard's play "The Late Henry Moss"
Reteamed with Rudolph for "Investigating Sex"
Cast as the father of scientist-turned-monster in Ang Lee's adaptation of the comic book "Hulk"
Starred as a gambler in the comedy "The Good Thief"
Co-starred with Don Cheadle in Terry George's "Hotel Rwanda," based on the true-life story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who housed over a thousand Tutsis refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda
Voiced a bear named Vincent in the animated comedy "Over the Hedge," based on the comic strip by Michael Fry and T. Lewis
Cast as a mentor in Victor Salva's "Peaceful Warrior"
Appeared in the Alfonso Cuarón-directed "Parc Monceau" segment of the anthology film "Paris, je t'aime"
Co-starred in the Ben Stiller-directed action comedy "Tropic Thunder"
Voiced Mulgrath in the fantasy feature "The Spiderwick Chronicles"
Appeared in the film version of Michael Chabon's novel "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh"
Appeared in "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore," the sequel to the 2001 family film "Cats & Dogs"
Co-starred in remake of "Arthur" opposite Russell Brand
Acted opposite Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy in action drama "Warrior"
Co-starred with Dustin Hoffman and Gary Stevens on horse-racing drama "Luck" (HBO)
Cast opposite director Robert Redford in thriller "The Company You Keep"
Portrayed LAPD chief Bill Parker opposite Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling in crime drama "Gangster Squad"
Co-starred with Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez in crime drama "Parker" based on the Richard Stark novels
Co-starred opposite Kate Beckinsale in indie drama "The Trials of Cate McCall"
Co-starred in Fox miniseries "Gracepoint," an American adaptation of UK police procedural "Broadchurch"
Starred opposite Robert Redford in "A Walk in the Woods," based on the memoir by Bill Bryson
Co-starred with Rosamund Pike in the thriller "Return to Sender"
Appeared in the Netflix ensemble western comedy "The Ridiculous 6"
Starred as former U.S. President Richard Graves on the short-lived comedy series "Graves"
Cast opposite Tim Roth in con-man drama "The Padre"