The noted film actor and notorious bad boy hunkers down and tells a few tales of his life, some of which just may be true.
“Let me tell you about my testicle tuck,” writes Nolte by way of an opening gambit. There are plenty of other bodily points of interest, as well: for one thing, the author had a well-developed habit of smacking his head against hard objects, like the sides of cars, “to relieve a little stress.” Fortunately, he survived, having finally learned that “running my head into cars was signaling…I needed help.” As his memoir unwinds, it’s clear where some of the stress and self-destruction came from. Back in Iowa, life presented its own hardships in the form of a war-scarred father and a mother who fed Dexedrine to young Nick, who recalls that the so-called vitamin “would have me bouncing off the walls in no time, eager as hell to get to school and wreak whatever havoc I could.” Havoc is a useful keyword, for there are plenty of opportunities to watch it in play as Nolte stumbles into an acting career and finds that he’s good at it, even if his early work was dismissed as lunk-headed and wooden. Things got better with Karel Reisz’s Who’ll Stop the Rain (1978), the film version of Robert Stone’s Dog Soldiers, “an important film for me because I was able to display some depth as an actor and a complexity far beyond what The Deep revealed.” Nolte casts a gimlet eye on his performances and the circumstances surrounding them, performances that have included such brilliant work as the cynical football hero of North Dallas Forty but have lately centered on a character he calls the “designated old guy.” Long since on the wagon and an obviously thoughtful man, Nolte seems to share the reader’s surprise that he lived long enough to take that role.
Better than the usual run of actor memoirs and plenty of fun to boot.