There are only a few men in Hollywood that are known mononymously. Somewhere amid his dozens of films and the many awards that followed, Jack Nicholson need not be identified by last name. In 1998, Jack further etched his name into film history by joining a prestigious group of actors in Academy Awards history.
Nicholson went into the 1998 Oscars with his eleventh nomination, which in itself made history, as he was the second-most nominated actor in the ceremony's history behind only Katharine Hepburn.
However, that list was the lesser of two that he was chasing that night (and would later be dominated by Meryl Streep, who was granted seven nominations in a 21-year span to make a total of 17).
Nominations are an honor to receive, but a tangible, glistening statuette is what every nominee strives for. Nicholson's eleventh Oscar nomination came for his lead role in the romantic comedy As Good as it Gets, in which he starred alongside Helen Hunt.
He went on to win the award that night and joined an exalted group of actors with three Oscars for their individual performance. Only three actors (Katharine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Walter Brennan) had achieved the feat before, and Meryl Streep has been the only one to join the group since.
"I like a career that covers three decades. It's nice," he says in the press room after winning the award. "[I] won one in the seventies, one in the eighties, and this is the nineties. I'm happy."
As for the performance that won him the Oscar, the three-awards-in-three-decades actor sets his pride aside and sticks to charismatic humility.
"All comparisons are odious, as my mother told me," he says when asked to compare this performance to his previous ones. "I always have a good time working. ...I've always worked with good directors; I choose material well; and after that, I think I'm lucky."