10 Facts Only Huge Fans Know About The Jack Nicholson Classic

AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains named Nurse Ratched is the fifth greatest villain of all time and actress Louise Fletcher found herself getting perhaps too closely aligned with her unlikeable character. As Fletcher joked in her best actress Oscar speech for the role, the film’s male actors’ “professionalism, humor and capacity for getting into their roles made being in a mental institution like being in a mental institution.”

Fletcher explained to Express that she wanted to remain professional and maintain a connection to her character as the antagonist, so she avoided partying with Nicholson and the others during production. It was hard to do, since the cast was all staying in the same place and often went out at night. So, Fletcher lied to the producers about a stranger bothering her at her accommodations so she could stay somewhere else. She said, “I desperately wanted to be on my own, to have the separation that I thought was so important for the role.”

Fletcher’s desire to stay separate from the others backfired, as she soon found herself too isolated from her castmates. Unlike her on-screen counterpart, Fletcher dug into her humorous side to build camaraderie with her co-stars by unexpectedly taking off her clothes on set. She told Express, “I’ll show them I’m a real woman under here, you know.’ I think that must have been what I was thinking.”

Fletcher elaborated to The Guardian that she got “sick of all the constrictions to do with playing Nurse Ratched,” so she decided to give the cast a special goodbye gift: She had the set photographer take a picture of her topless in her nurse’s cap, posing like Betty Grable, which she signed for her co-stars.

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