NOLTE, NICK (b. 1942)
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, on February 8, 1941, Nick Nolte was a star athlete in high school who won a football scholarship to Arizona State University. Over the next several years he drifted in and out of numerous college programs before abandoning plans for a professional football career.
While studying at the Pasadena Playhouse, Nolte came to the attention of a drama coach who encouraged him to study at Stella Adler's Academy. Believing that the coasts were over-populated with talented actors, Nolte sought opportunities to develop his acting skills with various regional theater companies. He worked for more than a decade with companies in Denver, Chicago, and Minneapolis. After a few minor television roles in the early 1970s, Nolte landed the pivotal role of his career (Rich Man, Poor Man, ABC ), which garnered him an Emmy nomination.
Hollywood noticed his phenomenal audience appeal, and Nolte began regular film work. Although much in demand as a romantic lead (The Deep, 1977; Prince of Tides, 1991), Nick Nolte has almost always shunned purely commercial fare in favor of roles that examine the darker, more troubling elements of the human spirit. As a result, he is more often seen as a complex and often threatening antagonist (Q&A, 1990) than a romantic leading man. Even his more romantic turns (as in Afterglow, 1997) examine a tortured psyche with enormous depth and realism.
One of the most physically intense and emotionally eloquent contemporary American actors, Nolte continues to produce critically acclaimed performances (Affliction, 1998; The Thin Red Line, 1999).
Karen L. Durst University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Katz, Ephraim. The Film Encyclopedia. 3rd ed. New York: HarperPerennial, 1998.
Macnab, Geoffrey. "Saint Nick." Sight and Sound 8 (1998): 6-8.