Jack Nicholson is undoubtedly one of the finest actors in the history of cinema. His performances in iconic films like “A Few Good Men,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and “The Departed” are etched in cinematic history.
In “The Departed,” released in 2006 and directed by Martin Scorsese, Nicholson showcased his ability to elevate great movies to a whole new level. This thriller, particularly within the crime genre, is often regarded as one of the best. The film boasts a stellar cast, a gripping storyline, and under Scorsese’s direction, it became a cinematic masterpiece.
Nicholson takes on the role of Frank Costello, a sociopathic crime boss, alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon. It’s one of Nicholson’s most unforgettable performances, as he skillfully balances Costello’s brutal unpredictability with a chilling charm. This duality is exemplified in the famous scene where Costello nonchalantly discusses business with DiCaprio’s character while there’s a bloody severed hand on his desk.
Interestingly, the hand wasn’t originally in the script. According to Martin Scorsese, it was Jack Nicholson’s own idea. Scorsese recounted in an interview with GQ how Nicholson pitched the concept: “What if, while we’re at lunch, on the table in a little plastic bag is a severed human hand?” Scorsese immediately recognized the brilliance of this addition, as it succinctly showcased the brutal nature of Nicholson’s character, underlined his casual intimidation, and illustrated his descent into madness as he lost control of the situation.
Nicholson’s suggestion turned out to be a stroke of genius, providing more depth to the character without the need for additional dialogue.
This wasn’t the only alteration Nicholson made to the script. Alongside Damon, he played a pivotal role in crafting another of the film’s darkest scenes with the infamous “she fell funny” line. These contributions underscore why Jack Nicholson is hailed as one of the greatest actors in the history of cinema.