Nick Nolte opens up in sin­cere me­moir

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - SIBBIE O’SUL­LI­VAN

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.

Nick Nolte

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