Jack Nicholson Talks to MTV About Possible Third ‘Chinatown’

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In an interview with MTV News, Josh Horowitz talks to Jack Nicholson about the new DVD releases of his directed films and the heretofore unheard-of plot details for a prospective third “Chinatown”.

MTV: Was the third film in the “Chinatown” trilogy ever scripted?

Nicholson: No. I would imagine Robert [Towne] has some kind of outline. I can tell you it was meant to be set in 1968 when no-fault divorce went into effect in California.

The title was to be “Gittes vs. Gittes”. It was to be about Gittes’ divorce. The secrecy of Meg Tilly’s character was … to involve the most private person in California: Howard Hughes.

That is where the air element would have come into the picture.

MTV: Would you consider doing the film still? I would think if you and Towne said “we want to do this,” Paramount would say: “Go for it.”

Nicholson: I certainly would consider it.

I would imagine Bob would as well. [But the second film’s behind-the-scenes problems] left a few bruises. I don’t know how Paramount would be. The timing is about right.

In the introduction to the book “The Whole Equation,” critic and historian David Thomson describes Towne’s original ideas for a proposed trilogy of “Chinatown” movies.

Especially in view of current Hollywood events, Thomson ironically used Towne as an example to illustrate screenwriters’ willing helplessness. Towne’s proposed trilogy was based on the original “Chinatown” happy ending.

Towne’s original third movie had to do with dismantling Los Angeles’ town car system. Thomson pointed out the same plot was used in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, which itself loosely parodied “Chinatown.”

(11/7 Update: It’s rumored that Towne himself was picketing, even though he allegedly has trouble walking. He was, according to AICN’s Moriarty, “sitting in a lawn chair on the line at Sony.”)


Director Steven Soderbergh recently called “Chinatown” “a classic that – in my opinion – is even better than we all think”.

One of my most distinctive film experiences involved watching “Chinatown” in an auditorium of college kids who had no idea what they were getting into. You could feel the room get palpably more disturbed.

Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson.
Photo credit: ViewImages.com

Nicholson goes on to speak about changes made for “The Two Jakes” DVD, which is an underrated misfire that – for my money – has as equally haunting a last line as the original “Chinatown”.

No mention was made of Nicholson’s widely respected but largely unseen directorial debut entitled “Drive, He Said”.

By Shane Hazen
Staff Writer HollywoodChicago.com

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