In his Hollywood heyday, Jack Nicholson partied like a madman — but these days, he prefers quieter get-togethers. He recently hosted a holiday dinner at his L.A. home with an exclusive guest list. “It’s pretty small — me, my uncle Ray, my aunt Lorraine, my mom,” grandson Duke Nicholson, 20, whose mother is Jack’s daughter Jennifer, 56, revealed to The Hollywood Reporter in December 2019. Even though Jack doesn’t get out as often as he used to, “he’s doing great,” Duke added. “He’s 100 percent.”
Jack, 82, hasn’t acted in a decade (his last role was in 2010’s How Do You Know), and he’s making the most of his unofficial retirement. “I don’t think many people have a very good understanding of leisure and the importance it plays in our lives,” Jack, who enjoys watching sports (he’s a die-hard Lakers fan) and keeps up with current events, has said. “He’s long had a thirst for knowledge,” an insider exclusively told Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “He still reads voraciously and is tuned in to what came before him and what’s going on today.”
A special source of pride is Jack’s art collection, which he often shows off to his family. “He loves to tell stories about the paintings he’s collected,” a friend shared with Closer. “More than anything, his kids and grandkids love to hear his stories and the kernels of wisdom he doles out to them.”
In a sense, Jack is making up for lost time by devoting so much attention to his family in his later years. “He’s tried to make a close bond, especially with Jennifer,” the friend continued. “Jack carries some guilt that he wasn’t there for her as much as he believes he should have been in her younger years. He just dotes on her two sons.” That would be Duke (who made his big-screen acting debut in last year’s horror hit Us) and his older brother, Sean.
Jack also has some regrets about his romantic past. “I’ve had everything a man could ask for, but I don’t know if anyone could say I’m successful with affairs of the heart,” the star, who was married only once, to actress Sandra Knight — Jennifer’s mom — from 1962 to 1968, said to the DailyMail in 2011.
Although he’s had long-term relationships with Anjelica Huston, Rebecca Broussard and Lara Flynn Boyle since, he never settled down for good. “I would love that one last real romance,” Jack also admitted to the British outlet. “But I’m not very realistic about it happening. What I can’t deny is my yearning.”
Still, Jack has found solace with his loved ones. “As he’s gotten older, his family means more to him than it ever has,” the friend explained. “He truly believes they are his legacy and tries to be there for them.”
“I’m content that I made a decent effort. That’s what I’ve always worried about: that I wouldn’t try hard enough,” Jack once recalled. And he’s satisfied with the end results. “Jack is living the life he wants to,” concluded the friend. “He seems happy.” In other words, he can handle the truth.
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