Search for “Nick Nolte” online and you’ll likely come across a photo of man in a Hawaiian shirt with wild hair. He doesn’t look happy.
And he shouldn’t be. The picture was taken after the actor was arrested for driving under the influence on the Pacific Coast Highway near Los Angeles on Sept. 11, 2002. Nolte reveals in a new interview that his infamous photo, which has often been parodied, is not an official mug shot.
He told GQ magazine, in an interview published in its January 2012 issue and titled “The Madman of Malibu,” that after his arrest, he was sent to undergo blood tests as a hospital, where a police officer asked him if he could snap his photo.
“I said, ‘Come on, you don’t really want to ask that, do you?'” Nolte told GQ. “And I let him shoot the Polaroid.”
GQ said Nolte made the officer agree to share any proceeds he may make off of the picture with his colleagues. The real mug shot, the magazine said, was never released to the public. Nolte does, however, appear in a booking photo taken after he was arrested in 1961 for selling fake draft cards. Both that picture, which is in black and white, and his 2002 photo appear on the landing page of his official website.
When he was arrested for driving under the influence, Nolte had been taking the drug GHB on a daily basis for about four years, GQ reported. The actor told the magazine that he drank some before a workout that day and that the offers who pulled him over paid no attention to the bottle of cranberry juice that contained it.
GHB, whose full name is gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, is a popular “party” drug that is often linked to sexual assaults. It is also sometimes prescribed to treat medical problems such as muscle weakness and sleep disorders. It can be made out of solvents and dissolves in liquid and remain odorless. Its effects are similar to those of alcohol.
Nolte said that as he was driving, he felt he may have been intoxicated and drove to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at a church, but ultimately did not enter the building and headed back home. He fell asleep at the wheel and swerved into the wrong side of the highway. He was then pulled over, GQ said.
He tested positive for GHB and pleaded no contest plea to a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of drugs. He was sentenced to three years of probation and spent time in rehab.
But the actor tells GQ that although he has not ingested the substance since the arrest, he may do so in the future.
“It would have to be medically supervised,” he said. “If I’m going to have to deal, as I get older, with arthritic pain, I don’t want to get into opiates. I would rather be on GHB. If it does what I thought it did. The problem with something like that, see, there’s some kind of psychological thing going on that’s not quite right. So that’s what had to get corrected.”
“I do remember that it was just an excellent painkiller,” he added. “Extreme arthritic pain, which you can’t really do anything about … I can see it being used that way.”
Nolte was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1941 and began his on-screen career in the late 1960s. His breakthrough role came in 1976, when he starred as Tom Jordache in the mini-series “Rich Man, Poor Man.” He later appeared in films such as “48 Hours” in 1982 and “Cape Fear” and “The Prince of Tides” in 1991. A year later, he was dubbed the “Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine.
He went on to star in movies such as “I Love Trouble” with Julia Roberts and the 1998 film “The Thin Red Line.” In 2000, he starred in the crime comedy “Trixie” with Brittany Murphy and Emily Watson and later filmed the R-rated film “Intimate Affairs, which featured actresses such as Neve Campbell, Julie Delpy. The movie was released in the spring of 2002.
Nolte continued to act after his arrest. He recently starred in the movie “Warrior” with “Dark Knight Rises” star Tom Hardy and “Once Upon A Time” actress Jennifer Morrison and filmed a television series called “Luck,” which also stars Dustin Hoffman and centers around a horse-racing track. The show is set to premiere on HBO on Jan. 29 at 9 p.m. ET.
Nolte also filmed the thrillers “Parker” with Jennifer Lopez, “The Company You Keep” with Shia LaBeouf and Stanley Tucci and “Gangster Squad” with Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and Sean Penn. All three movies are set for release in 2012.
Nolte is not the only actor to poke fun at a post-arrest photo. Actress Jane Fonda’s official Twitter profile photo is her 1970 mug shot, taking after she was arrested for drug smuggling in Ohio.