Nick Nolte opens up in sincere memoir
ACTOR Nick Nolte’s memoir, Rebel: My Life Outside the Lines, would make a good movie, but only if he starred in it. “Nick the weirdo”, as he calls himself, has the blond good looks, the distinctive voice, the acting chops and, as Rebel makes clear, the willingness to go deep inside his character.
Whatever the reason, Nolte has our attention, and he wants very much to tell his story.
Postwar America was full of lies. For example, World War II was the “good” war, a lie Nolte’s father demolished when he returned from the Pacific theatre “a shell of a man” damaged by “the horrors of what humankind is capable of ”. It’s a transformation that’s haunted Nolte all his life.
Life in Nebraska stifled Nolte’s craving for “every kind of experience”. By 1962 he was playing college football at Pasadena City College, but that didn’t last long. He flunked out of college, then, while working construction, was discovered in true Hollywood fashion by agent Henry Willson, later notorious for interviewing the handsome men he had discovered while “wearing only a silk dressing gown”. When this happened to Nolte, he “awkwardly excused” himself and put aside his movie-star dreams. After years of working in summer stock and regional theatre, his big break came in 1976 when he starred in the ABC miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man. After that, Hollywood.
Rebel’s tone is clean, inviting and forthright; the memoir is cumulative instead of meditative.
The book is full of thank-yous, beginning with Nolte’s appreciation for his first acting teacher, Bryan O’Byrne. He’s grateful for the directors he worked with in regional theatre who made him read the entire canon of noted American playwrights. Nolte loves the women in his life, even after divorcing them, and he knows no greater love than that of his children, son Brawley and daughter Sophie. He even thanks his gardener, Gerardo Resendiz, who for 40 years has been his “Rock of Gibraltar, and dear and steadfast friend”.
But when someone angers Nolte, he doesn’t hold back. When a teacher wanted to put Brawley on Ritalin, for instance, Nolte decided to pull his son from school and hire private tutors.
Many know Nolte only through his 2002 mug shot after he was arrested for driving under the influence, in this instance not of alcohol but the substance GHB. In 10 years, he had gone from being People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive to looking like king of the dumpster divers.
Dwelling on this image is a mistake considering all the great Nolte movies we could be watching.
And now we have Rebel: My Life Outside the Lines, playing at a book store near you. Touching, funny in parts, full of the excesses postwar America readily supplied, and, hopefully, truthful. Pick it up. – Washington Post
Liezel van der Westhuizen, Sabine Palfi, Naadirah Moola and Benike Palfi.