Regarding true Hollywood royalty, few stars garner instant recognition simply by mentioning their first name. “Marty” for Martin Scorsese, “Bobby” for Robert De Niro, and of course, “Jack” for Jack Nicholson. Nicholson has three Oscars, multiple Golden Globes, floor seats for Lakers games, and ownership of some of Hollywood’s most memorable lines ever uttered. You can’t spell Nicholson without “I-C-O-N.” By the way, the man LOVES his cigars, and you’ll often see them in Jack Nicholson’s movies, too.
In the beginning, Jack Nicholson was a cigarette smoker. However, he eventually had an epiphany and decided it was best to replace one bad habit with one slightly better practice and converted to cigars. He grew up in Asbury Park, New Jersey, surrounded by “wise guys “who played cards and favored Muriel’s and White Owls. However, in 1973 he played a petty officer who devoured Cuban cigars in the movie “The Last Detail.” And a love affair was born. However, it wasn’t until the early 1990s that he made the full-time switch to cigars, all because of golf. A fresh cigar on the fifth hole became a ritual, and it’s been only cigars since.
Art Imitates Life
There is no shortage of characters that Jack has played who enjoy cigars. Those cigars aren’t as much a prop but an extension of the character itself. As Colonel Jessup in “A Few Good Men,” his military rank has been upgraded since the “Last Detail.” The gruff, cigar-chomping exterior wouldn’t be the same without the cigars. He has maintained that he never came anywhere near the 15 cigars a day that George Burns was rumored to have smoked but has gotten close to those numbers by smoking between takes and during filming. He is also notoriously generous with his cigars on set.
What Does an Icon Smoke?
In 1973, while filming “The Last Detail,” his character only smoked Cuban Cigars. Almost 50 years later, Jack’s opinion of Cuban cigars hasn’t changed. “They are simply the best.” When it was still difficult to bring cigars into the States, he took advantage of film locations in Canada to stock his home humidor with some trophies.
He reportedly says, “I read a lot. I may not be an expert on a given subject, but I can hold a conversation on just about everything.” That knowledge extends to cigar-making, even down to opinions on what regions in Cuba grow the best tobacco. His go-to cigar? Romeo y Julieta, Cohiba Robustos, or Montecristo. From Cuba. He has occasionally favored Macanudo Maduros from the Dominican Republic, but none compare to his favorite Cubans.
Jack Nicholson is a Perfectionist
In every role he has played, Jack Nicholson’s movies have always reflected a complete focus on effort. It stems from an inherent desire for Nicholson to perfect his craft. That same dedication to perfection even extends to the way he lights his cigars. He is a firm believer in a method that famed director Roman Polanski taught him; running a flame around the entire edge of the cigar. Then, when lighting the entire tip, blow out initially, then inhale. It’s the only way to lock in the flavor, and it makes a difference! So who are we to argue with an icon like Jack Nicholson?
Photo Credit: “Jack Nicholson signing autographs at a ceremony for Dennis Hopper to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,” by Angela George (Cropped 2019 by LeeGer), Wikimedia Commons license CC BY-SA 3.0