Jack Nicholson’s estranged daughter Tessa Gourin talks about fatherless childhood

Jack Nicholson’s estranged daughter, Tessa Gourin, reflects on her fatherless youth.

The 28-year-old spoke candidly in a recent interview with The Daily Beast about her passion for acting, the wasted potential of so-called “nepo babies” — and how it feels to not be publicly recognized by Nicholson as his daughter.

“From a very young age, my mother told me not to tell anyone that I have this famous father,” Gourin told the paper. “I knew he was Daddy Warbucks level powerful and rich, so I equated my life to being like Orphan Annie’s.”

Gourin said her single mother raised her and her younger half-brother in a two-bedroom apartment. She told the outlet that Nicholson agreed to finance her private New York City education, but that his absence spurred childhood tantrums and school expulsions.

“A few years ago, I was casually hanging out with this guy who was also an actor, and I opened up to him … about how hard it was for me growing up,” Gourin added. “His response was to start doing a monologue from ‘The Departed’, accent and all.”

Gourin (center-right) said her mother told her as a child not to reveal that she has a famous father.

“They used to make me say, ‘Here’s Johnny,’ and by the time I was 8 years old, I hadn’t even seen ‘The Shining,'” Gourin claimed of her childhood summer camp counselors.

Gourin first came to national attention earlier this month after Newsweek published her essay, “I’m Jack Nicholson’s Daughter – I Wish People Could Call Me a Nepo Baby,” as part of the recent cultural discourse about the favored children of famous people .

“Having grown up without my father, I’ve sat on the sidelines and watched in frustration as other celebrity kids seamlessly secured roles,” she wrote. “…I have become even more frustrated with what I believe is a lost opportunity for these so-called ‘nepo babies.’

Urging her more fortunate peers to “own their position and embrace it instead of complaining about it,” Gourin told The Daily Beast that she “also can understand the frustration” — but that an actor’s main “drive” should be to prove itself regardless of labels.

Some actors like Allison Williams poignantly acknowledged their familial advantage. Others, such as Lily-Rose Depp – Johnny Depp’s daughter – publicly condemned the label. Ultimately, Depp’s backlash against the title, Gourin said, inspired her play.

Some of the children Nicholson has acknowledged have followed him into show business.
Some of the children Nicholson has acknowledged have followed him into show business.

Kevork Djansezian via Getty Images

Gourin has wanted to act all her life, but said her mother forbade her to follow that passion as a child. Gourin was later hesitant to follow in her father’s footsteps, but reconsidered after “excruciating” therapy, and now she is a new New York actress.

Asked why her famous father had decided not to be involved in her life, Gourin said no one had ever given her “a concrete answer”. She said Nicholson is “a complicated person” and her mother is “fighting her own demons” as well.

Nicholson has not starred in a major motion picture since 2010’s How Do You Know, which was widely panned by critics and audiences alike, and has since retreated from the limelight. He will have at least five other children with four different women.

Some of them have followed Nicholson into show business – while Gourin has had to do it on her own.

“I was dealt a really random card, but I’m not going to let it get me down,” she said. “Actually, I’m going to use it to energize me. I feel like all really good actors … whatever their ultimate difficulties and conflicts are … that’s what drives them, and that happens to be mine.”

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