Back in 2006, Nick Nolte co-starred in a small sports drama called Peaceful Warrior (not to be confused with the upcoming sports drama Warrior), as a mysterious trainer/gas station attendant named Socrates. It was not a strong film. Or a strong performance. It was, in fact, the end of a near half-decade’s string of not-strong performances in not-strong films.
This was nothing new. The man had slumped quite similarly in the mid-90s (watch the awful Mulholland Falls for proof). Then, after reviving his career in the late 90s with winning turns in both Paul Schrader’s superb Affliction (which earned him an Oscar nod) and Terrence Malick’s masterful The Thin Red Line, the actor got arrested in late 2002 for driving while intoxicated. To add insult to injury, there was a beautiful mugshot that came with the arrest, something that’ll never be erased from the Internet. To add more insult to more injury, no one saw what is still the strongest performance of his career, as the degenerate gambling Bob in Neil Jordan’s underrated The Good Thief.
Now, in 2011, Nolte seems to be doing everything right, one more time. He’s got Warrior on the horizon, a funny little turn in Warner Bros. Arthur remake just behind him and now a significant role in Ruben Fleischer‘s much-talked-about crime saga The Gangster Squad. Nolte has been cast as Bill Parker, the new chief of police in Los Angeles who is not yet corrupted by uber-gangster Mickey Cohen (who’ll be played by Sean Penn). Parker gathers the Gangster Squad, which will include Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Anthony Mackie [Deadline]. The film also has Emma Stone as Gosling’s love interest, Warner Bros. cashing in on the flawless chemistry the two young actors displayed in this summer’s modest hit Crazy Stupid Love.
Furthermore, Nolte just wrapped Parker, another incarnation of Richard Stark’s novel The Hunter (John Boorman’s Point Blank, Brian Helgeland’s Payback come before it) this time from Ray director Taylor Hackford. Nolte stars alongside Jason Statham in the Robin Hood-esque crime thriller. The veteran performer also just joined Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep, starring alongside Redford, Shia LaBeouf and Brit Marling.
What do you think of Nolte? Where does he rank amongst other actors in his generation?
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