When Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston finally appeared together onscreen in the 1985 black comedy Prizzi’s Honor—the second-to-last movie directed by her father, John—they brought years of subtext as one of Hollywood’s glam couples with them. They were not Taylor and Burton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?—art imitating life at full volume—no, they were too cool for that. And it’s their sense of cool—sly, hip, sexy—that permeated their deadpan performances. Nicholson was already a legend of course, but it was Huston’s turn as disgraced woman, which earned her an Oscar nomination and stole the movie (and also kicked off an incredible string of performances including The Dead, The Grifters, and Enemies: A Love Story).
Brad Darrach, one of the smoothest celebrity profile writers we’ve ever seen (we’ve previously reprinted his profiles of Meryl Streep and Bobby Fischer), caught up with Nicholson and Huston just as Prizzi’s Honor came out and gives us a revealing look at two great actors in their prime. They were also a betwitching couple, and though they didn’t last—they so rarely do—it’s still easy to picture them together, isn’t it? The story was originally published in People magazine (July 1985), and reprinted here with permission from Darrach’s estate. Please enjoy this intimate look Hollywood sophistication. —Alex Belth
Like an arc lamp, the flashing “killer smile” illuminates every corner of a spacious suite in a lah-de-dah Manhattan hotel. The man of the moment has arrived for a photo session. Sturdy, feisty, natty as a tout in his dove gray double-breasted, Jack Nicholson strides through the room pumping hands and chatting up a storm. To look at him, a stranger would never guess that this radiant public figure is consumed by a private grief. He has just left the bedside of an uncle who is seriously ill, a man he has always loved like an older brother. But Anjelica Huston knows what he is feeling. Seated in a corner of the room, she gently disengages from an interview-in-progress as Jack moves toward her. Leaning back, she lifts her lips to his. The kiss is tender and it holds a little longer than discretion might dictate. “Hello, Toots,” Jack murmurs.