‘A Few Good Men’ turns 30: Rob Reiner reveals the origins of Jack Nicholson’s iconic speech

Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise in the 1992 Rob Reiner drama, Some good guys. (Image: Everett Collection)

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on December 8, 2017. It has been updated to reflect recent events.

From “Those Go to 11” to “I’ll Get Her,” Rob Reiner’s movies are a trusted source for instantly quotable movie lines. If you had to pick the five most famous words from his movie, it would probably be: “You can’t handle the truth.” Jack Nicholson said that immortal sentence – penned by Aaron Sorkin – in the Oscar-nominated courtroom drama Some good guyswhich premiered in theaters 30 years ago, on December 11, 1992.

Playing esteemed military officer Col. Nathan Jessup, Nicholson throws those words in the face of prosecuting U.S. Navy attorney Lieutenant Daniel Caffey (Tom Cruise) for daring to lure Jessup into the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of a Marine on his base day. Written in classic Sorkin highball style, the sequence is still crackling with electricity three decades later. No wonder it has since been impersonated in every way The Simpsons Salesperson training videos.

As fun as we are to drop a good “you can’t handle the truth” reference now and then, it’s nothing compared to how much fun Nicholson had saying that particular line on set. In a 2017 conversation with Reiner, the director recalled his star — who received the 10th out of 12 Academy Award nominations. some good men – happily performing the scene over and over of his own free will.

“Before we started filming, I asked Jack if he wanted me to shoot his angles first or Cruise’s reaction shots first so he could be off camera,” Reiner explains, adding that Nicholson initially asked for the off-camera option so she would have time to rehearse his birth.

As it turns out, though, the actor couldn’t resist delivering a camera-ready performance on every off-camera shot. “Every time we’d do a scene, Jack would do it perfectly,” Reiner says with a laugh. After a few takes, I said, ‘Jack, maybe you want to save a little bit for when you have the camera with you. And he replied, “Rob, you don’t understand — I love that.” an act“.”

Jack Nicholson and Rob Reiner on the set <em>Some good guys</em> In 1992 (Photo: Columbia/Courtesy Everett Collection) “data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/22akUHebE_RY82tuW8hJuA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTYzOA–/zenfs://media.  .com/en/homerun/feed_manager_auto_publish_494/5da1b6c43e1f4c6c334aa945724b7572″/><noscript><img alt=Some good guys in 1992 (Photo: Columbia/Courtesy Everett Collection)”src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/22akUHebE_RY82tuW8hJuA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTYzOA–/https://media.zenfs. com//en/homerun/feed_manager_auto_publish_494/5da1b6c43e1f4c6c334aa945724b7572 “class=”caas-img”/>

Jack Nicholson and Rob Reiner on the set Some good guys In 1992 (Photo: Columbia/Courtesy Everett Collection)

If Reiner was worried that Nicholson wasn’t saving the best things for last, the shining The star proved otherwise when it finally came his turn in the spotlight. “When the camera came to him, he did the same off-camera performance as he did. And it was amazing every time.”

Reiner saw another side of Nicholson—the screenwriter’s side—when the duo reunited after 15 years Some good guys for the year 2007 bucket list, a gentle aging comedy about two men (Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) finally fitting in all the things they’ve wanted to do as they face the end of their lives. In his Hollywood days before he became famous, Nicholson alternated acting jobs with writing gigs in 1960s B-movies like Journey to anger The Monkees cult classic headand bringing that early experience to the Renner group.

“Every morning, I’d go to Jack’s trailer, and whatever scene we were working on that day, we’d go over it and make it better,” Reiner recalled. “That was a big kick for me, as I worked with him to improve the scene for the day. We didn’t do that much Some good guys Because Aaron Sorkin wrote an amazing screenplay. But Jack is also a writer – he’s written a bunch of screenplays.”

BERLIN - January 21: Director Rob Reiner and actors Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman attended

Reiner, Nicholson, and Morgan Freeman at a movie premiere bucket list In 2007 (Photo by Anita Pugh/WireImage)

Reiner didn’t know this at the time, however bucket list It also proved to be Nicholson’s last star role. Three years later, in 2010, he had a supporting role opposite Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, and Paul Rudd in the James L. Brooks thriller. how do you knowSince then, Nicholson has been on an extended hiatus from the silver screen. For a while, the actor was attached to headline the Oscar-nominated 2016 German comedy remake. Tony Erdmannwritten by girls Lena Dunham and Jenny Conner co-star Kristen Wiig.

Reiner, for one, will never stop rooting for a late career comeback from Nicholson. “I hope he comes back. He’s one of the greatest American film actors of all time.” we Can Deal with this fact.

Some good guys Available for purchase on most VOD services, including Amazon.

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