By modern cinema’s standards (we’re looking at you, Avatar 2), drama movie A Few Good Men might be considered low-budget, with estimations of the movie’s total production budget ranging from $33 million to $40 million.
Although the gamble definitely paid off, with the Tom Cruise movie making over $240 million at the box office and getting four Academy Award nominations, that doesn’t make the sheer amount of Jack Nicholson’s salary in the film any less wild.
As Colonel Jessup, Nicholson’s role has gone down in history as one of the best in the war movie, least of all for delivering iconic lines like “You can’t handle the truth!”
But in order to make that moment happen, Nicholson was paid an eye-watering sum of $5 million, which was broken up into half a million per day for ten days of work on the ‘90s movie.
Starring alongside Nicholson and Cruise in the thriller movie was Kiefer Sutherland, who revealed in an interview with GQ that while Nicholson’s infamous courtroom scene was scheduled to shoot over 2 or 3 days, his performance was so good that they ended up getting it all in one take.
“[He] knocked it out of the park,” Sutherland recalled. “Not a slight hesitation, not an uncomfortable moment, or trying to dip your toe into the scene to see if the water’s fine. This guy went for it. He took a full-on baseball swing, and he knocked it out of the park. I’d never heard a set that quiet in my life. All the oxygen had just been sucked out of the room, and no one was moving.”
“Rob Reiner [the director] said, ‘It’s never going to get any better than that,’ so we wrapped,” he recalls. “Never seen it happen. And I’ve also never seen a gallery of cast and crew give an ovation. ”
If you want to feast your eyes on more ovation-worthy performances, check out our guide to all the new movies set to come out in 2023.