Jack Nicholson’s commitment to method acting in preparing for the film spanned from living in the psychiatric ward amongst the patients to participating in real-life group therapy sessions. Fully immersing himself in the rebellious mind of McMurphy triggered some hitches. In developing the character, Nicholson sparred often with director Forman.
First, they clashed over Nicholson’s beard idea, then, the two butted heads so squarely over the telling of the story that they were not on speaking terms during most of the filming. To communicate, cinematographer Bill Butler had to serve as a go-between.
The late Louise Fletcher made Oscar history when she thanked her deaf parents. She signed, “I want to say thank you for teaching me to have a dream. You are seeing my dream come true.”
Afterward, she heard from countless adoring deaf fans from around the country who expressed overwhelming affinity with her gesture. She won the Best Actress Award for her unsurpassable role as the nasty Nurse Ratchet.
Oscars for All
The late Louise Fletcher was not the only one to earn an Oscar thanks to this movie. Jack Nicholson won Best Actor, Forman won Best Director, Best Picture went to Michael Douglas and Saul Zaentz, and Best Adapted Screenplay went to Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman.
Scoring all five major Academy Awards, Cuckoo’s Nest made history at the 48th Oscar ceremony, matching the success of Frank Capra’s "It Happened One Night". "Silence of the Lambs" would follow suit.
No Stranger to the Crazy
Nicholson is known for mentally committing to his roles. Later, in Kubrick’s "The Shining", he was caught on tape preparing for the ax scene by running around the set screaming maniacally, “Ax, murder, kill!”
Nicholson's Jack Torrance is one of the most terrifying characters in the movie, immortalized for all eternity by the freaky improvised line, “Heeeere’s Johnny!”
Method actors are can be found all over the film industry. Other film legends have gone to shocking extremes to create outstanding and memorable characters. Here are some more of the very best.
Seriously Method Acting
When it comes to method acting, Robert De Niro is the champ. He had his teeth shaved down for "Cape Fear" and worked as an NYC cabbie preparing for his iconic role in "Taxi".
What he does to prepare for roles is truly astounding. No wonder he is considered one of the best in Hollywood.