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Jack Nance

Jack Nance

Jack Nance, sometimes credited as John Nance, was an American stage and screen actor known for his work in offbeat or avant-garde film and theatre. He is best known for his work with film director David Lynch. He specialised in eccentric supporting roles.

Nance was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1943 and raised in Dallas, Texas. He worked for some time with the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.

In the 1970s, Nance met David Lynch, who cast him as the lead in his bizarre independent film Eraserhead. Nance's performance as the neurotic, big-haired Henry Spencer is an iconic one in cult film. At the time, Nance was married to the actress Catherine E. Coulson (the future Log Lady in Twin Peaks), but they divorced in 1976.

In his late middle age, Nance grew a small white moustache and was a distinctive presence in many films with his peculiar twisted smile and bug eyes. Nance remained on good terms with Lynch, who cast him in nearly all of his projects:

  • Dune: a small role as the Harkonnen Captain Nefud
  • Blue Velvet: a supporting role as Paul, a creepy friend of Dennis Hopper's villain
  • The Cowboy and the Frenchman: plays Pete, one of the cowboys
  • Twin Peaks: a memorably eccentric performance as Pete Martell, the henpecked sawmill gaffer
  • Wild at Heart: a small role as the very weird 'OO Spool'
  • Lost Highway: Phil
Nance died in Pasadena, California in 1996 in a tragically Lynchian manner. He was involved in a brawl outside a donut shop, in which he apparently received head injuries, which are believed to have been the cause of his death two days later.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Jack Nance Facts

Birth NameMarvin John Nance
OccupationActor
BirthdayDecember 21, 1943
SignSagittarius
BirthplaceBoston, Massachusetts, USA
Date of deathDecember 30, 1996 (age 53)
Height5' 6" (1m68)  How tall is Jack Nance compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Dune
Fast & Furious
RiffTrax: Breaker Breaker
Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery
Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks: The Complete Series
Eraserhead
Barfly
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