Jack Nicholson At 80: His 10 Best Performances

9. Colonel Nathan R. Jessup (A Few Good Men)

This is Nicholson's most straightforward role in this list: the no nonsense, archetypal "Sir, yes Sir!" Colonel Nathan R. Jessup. Nicholson was reportedly paid $5 million for appearing in merely three scenes in the film, and it's one in particular that goes down as one of the greatest in cinema history.

US Navy lawyer Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (a youthful-looking Tom Cruise) calls up Jessup as a witness in the trial of a couple of US Marines, who are being accused of murdering a fellow Marine, Private William Santiago.

Kafee pushes and prods away at Jessup incessantly, leading to the latter's oft-quoted famous line about people like Kaffee not being able to cope with non-lies or something like that. Moreover, Nicholson recited his defiant courtroom speech between 40 to 50 times. Unsurprisingly, he said he felt "quite spent" afterwards.

As testament to the reverence in which Nicholson is held amongst his peers, in the book entitled Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty, and Jack Nicholson, Nicholson recounts walking onto the set of A Few Good Men for the first time and says he "felt like the f***ing Lincoln Memorial!"


The name's Colbourn, James - yeah, doesn't quite have the same ring to it.