Nick Nolte sheds light on wild life

In mem­oir, ac­tor looks back on roles, drugs and book­ing mug shots

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - MARK KENNEDY

You might re­mem­ber Nick Nolte’s in­fa­mous mug shot from 2002, the one where the three-time Os­car nom­i­nee wears his hair wild and his shirt Hawai­ian. But there’s an­other one from many years be­fore.

In 1961, Nolte was busted for sell­ing fake draft cards, fined $75,000 and sen­tenced to 75 years in prison, later sus­pended. In that book­ing photo, a pre-fa­mous Nolte wears his hair short and a but­ton­down shirt.

Both em­bar­rass­ing in­ci­dents are heartily dis­cussed in his new mem­oir, Rebel: My Life Out­side the Lines. Nolte, 77, is now ready to tell his story — warts and all. The ar­rests act al­most like book­ends to a some­times crazy life.

“I’ve had two mug shots in my life­time. It’s hard to get those. And if you get them, you’d bet­ter make sure you ex­am­ine the cir­cum­stances that you got them,” Nolte said. “The best way to deal with the big­gest mis­takes in your life is to dis­cuss them. With ev­ery­body, in­clud­ing God.”

The au­to­bi­og­ra­phy traces the rise of Nolte, a Mid­west­ern boy, a nat­u­ral jock, who found fame later in life when he traded in per­form­ing on the stage for movies.

“Act­ing al­ways ap­pealed to me a lot be­cause it’s risk tak­ing. And it’s some­thing I don’t do nat­u­rally. I mean when I’m stand­ing back­stage and that cur­tain is about to open I say, ‘Why would you do this to your­self ? Are you re­ally that much of an id­iot to just ex­pose your­self to a thou­sand peo­ple?’ ” he said.

“And then the cur­tain opens and, if it goes all right, you don’t re­mem­ber open­ing night — there’s too much adrenalin. Ac­tors are risk tak­ers. And they’re tak­ing the risks for their own san­ity.”

Nolte, whose hits in­clude The Prince of Tides, Cape Fear, Lorenzo’s Oil, The Good Thief, The Thin Red Line and 48 Hrs., self­med­i­cated to quell his de­mons.

The book re­counts his amaz­ing ap­petite for drugs — in­clud­ing coke, LSD, HGH and GHB — and the time he sin­gle-hand­edly saved the movie Un­der Fire by smug­gling the film can­is­ters out of Mex­ico.

We learn he ate real dog food in Down and Out in Bev­erly Hills and took real heroin dur­ing the eightweek shoot of The Good Thief to bet­ter por­tray a heroin ad­dict. He slept with Jac­que­line Bis­set dur­ing film­ing of The Deep but his in­abil­ity to skate lost him a part in Slap Shot. He was of­fered Su­per­man but saw noth­ing su­per about the role.

Nolte de­scribes his own #Me­Too mo­ment when, at 21, a Hol­ly­wood agent in­vited him to his Bel Air home for din­ner. Af­ter the man ex­cused him­self, he re­turned wear­ing only a silk dress­ing gown and an­nounced: “Hello, cud­dle bunny.” Nolte was out the door quickly.

Nolte also has a dim view of Har­vey We­in­stein, the one-time Mi­ra­max com­pany head who had a rep­u­ta­tion as a ruth­less film ed­i­tor. (Mul­ti­ple al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct last year up­ended his ca­reer.) He re­counts how his 2000 film The Golden Bowl was “re­duced to shreds” by We­in­stein’s cut.

And of course there’s the story of his in­fa­mous Septem­ber 2002 ar­rest. That day he’d gone to the gym for a GHB-en­hanced work­out but felt too messed up. He headed to an Al­co­holics Anony­mous meet­ing but didn’t go in, in­stead weav­ing down the Pa­cific Coast High­way.

Now sober, Nolte can chuckle. “I take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for that one,” he said.

Nick Nolte

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