About Schmidt

2002 Comedy Drama

Jack Nicholson plays retiring insurance actuary Warren Schmidt in Alexander Payne's About Schmidt. Schmidt has settled into a dormant life. He has an unfulfilling marriage to Helen (June Squibb), and conspires to spend as much time away from her as possible. Schmidt's daughter Jeannie (Hope Davis) is engaged to Randall Hertzel (Dermot Mulroney), a man Schmidt believes is entirely unworthy of his daughter. When Helen unexpectedly dies, Warren is adrift until he discovers old love letters sent to his wife from his best friend. This inspires Warren to make a valiant effort to stop his daughter's wedding. His plans start to go awry when he meets Randall's extroverted mother, Roberta (Kathy Bates). About Schmidt was screened at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival where many were surprised that Nicholson did not take home the Best Actor award.

Director: Alexander Payne

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Kathy Bates, Hope Davis,Dermot Mulroney, June Squibb


  • What makes this exquisitely observed slice of American screen realism transcend itself is finally its moral sensibility.

    Stephen Holden - The New York Times

    29 November 2012

  • A comedy poised on the knife's edge of tragedy, the film is a gutsy, truthful, deeply rooted vision of contemporary American life, scaled to the size of an ordinary man. It's a humanist triumph strip-mined of bathos and confirmation that, after directing just three features, Payne has become the most gifted comic social satirist to hit our movies since Preston Sturges.

    Manohla Dargis - Los Angeles Times

    29 November 2012

  • The power of this great movie -- part comedy, part tragedy, part satire, mostly masterpiece -- is in the details.

    Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly

    29 November 2012

  • It is also Nicholson at his bravest and riskiest. By banking his fires and staying alert to the smallest details, he delivers a monumental performance that blasts your expectations and batters your heart.

    Peter Travers - Rolling Stone

    29 November 2012

  • A seriously good movie, a challenge to viewers, a rebuke of the way many Americans live their lives.

    Mick LaSalle - The San Francisco Chronicle

    29 November 2012


  • Best Actor in a Leading Role

    Academy Awards (2003)

  • Best Edited Feature Film - Dramatic

    American Cinema Editors (2003)

  • Alexander Payne

    American Screenwriters Association (2003)

  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

    BAFTA Awards (2003)

  • Best Actor

    Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards (2003)