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Like the most charmingly endearing, if grizzled, of your old uncles, Nick Nolte knows how to tell a story. Similar to some of his greatest onscreen characters, he’s lived hard and seen it all. The resilient actor recently sat down to discuss the newest cinematic rebel in his professional canon, that of a Leftist-leaning, hippie-sympathizing, proud activist in Robert Redford’s upcoming film, The Company You Keep. Here are some insightful and bizarre pearls of wisdom from the mind of Nolte…

On working with Redford…

“I was curious how he worked and had always wanted to work with him. I like (collaborating) with writer/directors because they can solve all the problems right there (on set). When I went up to (the film set in) Vancouver, everything just went real smoothly. We ended up teasing each other about how many squats (we can each do), and stuff like that at our ages.”

On the horrors of war…

“When I was a kid, my dad went to World War II. I remember there was a day when I was a little boy and my dad finally came home. I didn’t quite know what that meant at the time, but I can remember the feeling of excitement. Then I can also remember the image of a skeleton in the doorway when he arrived back at the house. He was 6’6 and only 140 pounds or something. They took him upstairs, and every day for a little bit, I had to sit beside him in the rocking chair (as he remained motionless, laboring to breathe). It occurred to me that whatever he went through, I didn’t ever want to do that. I knew I didn’t want to be involved in that, and I didn’t want to kill anybody. I don’t like the idea of war.”

On the controversial former radical activist organization profiled in the film, The Weather Underground…

“I didn’t even really know about The Weather Underground, they were such a fringe group. I had heard of them, but violence was something I was trying to avoid. They didn’t need to do all that. “

On the Oscars…

“I never liked the Oscars, too much for me. I felt like a big vulnerable hunk of baloney being used to sell a product (Nolte has been nominated three times). They asked me once if I’d be a presenter, and I said, I’d love to, if you give me one quarter of one half percent of profits. (They replied) No Mr. Nolte, everybody does this for free. I said, I know, but you’re a big show, you can share a little part of the money!”

On acting…

“What I was aware of was that I had to act. And I thought if you need to act, go act. I have this bug, a distortion in me. As Katherine Hepburn would say, there should be a law against you having relationships because you are so in love with your work.”

On the millennial generation…

“Is this generation using its utilities and tools? The answer is a riproaring yes. They are using everything they have access to and it’s fascinating to them. It’s too bad we didn’t have the Internet in the 60s, all that (turmoil) might not have happened.”

On the current political state of our country…

“There will always be resistance to change and there will always be change, the quicker you get used to that, the easier it is. This is not a difficult thing. “

On psychedelic drugs…

“A lot of the vision and the way we see things as a human race were changed from psychedelic trips. This wasn’t a new thing, these natural plants had been around for thousands of years and assimilated into the cultures for religious and storytelling reasons. What kills me is the attack of a plant that obviously has a symbiotic relationship with people.”

On being tough and fearless like himself…

“Life is hard and it should be, and meeting that challenge and surviving is what keeps us moving forward and evolving. Every generation will be challenged morally once in their life about their government, and their way, and they’ll have to say where they stand.”

On his life now…

“I live in a little isolated world of gardens, vegetables, and films. I hang out with the Hare Krishnas because that movement started in the 60s, and because they chant and dance which I love.”