'Real Life is Kind of Hard For Me': A Candid Nick Nolte on Falling Off the Wagon For Warrior


Earlier you mentioned that you didn't speak to Tom Hardy or Joel Edgerton in between takes to make your estranged relationship seem more realistic. Like your character, a former alcoholic, you also slipped with alcohol in Pittsburgh. Do you usually go method for projects?

No, not really. In this case, I think it was just necessary. We had to keep those boys focused as much as possible. They were both doing American accents which has really gotta be difficult to do. American's aren't good at accents but the English are because their accents change. You go five or six blocks and the accent is different so they are used to hearing different pitches. In America, you gotta travel maybe 10 states before you can really hear a difference. And Joel, the Australians, they're just hard workers.

What about the Moby Dick audio book, which plays a very important role to your character? How did that come about?

You know, we had to have Moby Dick in there. Moby Dick has an obsession going with this white whale. He neglects his crew and that's what [Nolte's character] Paddy did. He got obsessed with his Tommy winning. He neglected his family. He got violent with the mother. I don't think he was a big hitter all the time. I don't think he beat her really hard, but I do think there were drunk moments where he blacked out and didn't know what he did. They were dealing with an alcoholic. That is the same obsession that Moby Dick had. And when [Paddy] has that breakdown, he is talking about the crew.

That breakdown scene was heartbreaking. How did you prepare to let yourself go like that emotionally?

I just -- I've been there. That's how I got there. [Laughs]

Was it therapeutic?

Yeah, acting is always therapeutic. I became an actor because real life is kind of hard for me. It's really rough. I always searched for stories that I understood or was trying to understand about life that I could participate in now. That's how I started doing theater, and I did that for 14 years before I ever got to Hollywood.

Lastly, I just want to mention that I really got a kick out of your voice role in Zookeeper as Bernie, the curmudgeonly gorilla who is obsessed with T.G.I. Friday's. I need to know: Have you ever been to T.G.I. Friday's?

No. [Laughs]

Why did you take that role?

My business partner called me and said, "This movie is having a hard time finding a gorilla. Do you know how to do a gorilla?" I said, "Of course! You just have to act like you're the strongest thing on the planet." So I got the role and I went out and got gorilla sounds, mating calls, all this kind of stuff, and I started just being this gorilla.

Well you nailed it. Thank you so much for your time.

Of course. And remember to say hello to Pittsburgh for me.

[Top photo: Getty Images]

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  • Jorge says:

    Good interview. Nolte is quite candid.

  • casting couch says:

    At age 70, he doesn't have much to hide.

  • Strawberry Pain says:

    Fantastic interview. Thanks!

  • I've been following Mr. Nolte since Warrior and I'm completely enamored with this highly talented man. I find him ruggedly handsome, he's very humble. I'm researching his movies and studying his life. I'd like to take him to a very nice dinner and listen to him talk about whatever ales him. There is a lot of soul in this person. Older men have always been more interesting to me. I would love to meet him...