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Estranged Daughter of Jack Nicholson Says He ‘Wasn’t Interested’ in a Relationship With Her

Photo Credit: Photo by Peter L Gould / Images / Getty Images and Rob Kim / Getty Images for defend Brooklyn
Photo Credit: Photo by Peter L Gould / Images / Getty Images and Rob Kim / Getty Images for defend Brooklyn

Jack Nicholson is a father to multiple children, but there is one who has been kept out of his life. Tessa Gourin recently opened up about her experience as the estranged child of a Hollywood superstar. His absence left a big impact on her life, and she’s revealing how that has affected her decisions growing up.

Nicholson didn’t want anything to do with her

Tessa Gourin standing with two friends.
DFBK designer Alex Wright (L) and Tessa Gourin (R) attend the launch party for Original Defend Brand Defend Brooklyn Flagship Store on February 10, 2016, in New York City. (Photo Credit: Rob Kim / Getty Images for defend Brooklyn)

Gourin grew up with her mother, Jennine Gourin, and her younger half-brother, in the Upper East Side of New York. She grew up without ever knowing her father, which was not her own doing. “My mom wanted me to have a relationship with him, but he said he wasn’t interested,” Gourin explained. With Nicholson choosing not to maintain a relationship with his daughter, Jennine told Gourin “not to tell anyone that I have this famous dad.”

As she grew older, she began to understand more and more who her father was to the world and grasped that “he was powerful and Daddy Warbucks-level rich,” she said. “I kind of equated my life to being like Orphan Annie’s.” Although her life wasn’t full of indulgences and lavishness like most celebrity families, Gourin did attend “prestigious private schools,” made possible by funding from Nicholson.

The extent to which the two had a relationship was extremely limited. “When you’re a child, you don’t have a choice where you’re going, so if your mom is pushing you on someone who’s technically your father and he agrees to see you for anywhere between one hour and a couple of days, that’s where you’re going to go,” Gourin explained. “I don’t know this person very well, we’ll just say that.”

Nicholson has five other children

Jack Nicholson posing for photos with his daughter Lorraine and his son Ray.
Jack Nicholson, Lorraine Nicholson, and Raymond Nicholson posing for a photo together. (Photo Credit: Mirek Towski / FilmMagic / Getty Images)

Throughout his life, Nicholson has been known as a womanizer. As such, it’s no big surprise that he shares multiple children with multiple women. Apart from Gourin, Nicholson has five other children. He has his daughter Jennifer Nicholson from his marriage to Sandra Knight, his son Caleb Goddard with his former co-star Susan Anspach, his daughter Honey Hollman with model Winnie Hollman, and his daughter Lorraine and son Ray with actress Rebecca Broussard.

Nicholson has not publicly acknowledged Gourin as his daughter. When asked if she’s been able to figure out why that might be, she said, “I don’t think anyone’s ever given me a concrete answer.” One can’t go through life without wondering, though, and she says she has “formed my own opinion. He’s a complicated person, and I think my mom fights her own demons, and with the combination of the two, I was simply collateral damage.”

Gourin chimed in on the ‘nepo baby’ discussion

Headshot of Jack Nicholson/
Actor Jack Nicholson poses for a photo shoot in 1993, in his hotel room, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo Credit: Michael Tighe / Donaldson Collection / Getty Images)

Gourin said that “the most frustrating part of my life is being described as Jack Nicholson‘s ‘alleged’ daughter or ‘illegitimate’ child.” Regardless of his reasoning for closing her out, she is his daughter. “Whatever the dictionary definition, I’m very much legitimate. I’m not something to be ashamed of. While Jack has never publicly acknowledged that he is my biological father, I exist in a very major way.”

Gourin wrote an essay about her life, adding her two cents to the ‘nepo-baby‘ discussion. “Having grown up without my father, I’ve sat on the sidelines and watched in frustration as other celebrity children have seamlessly secured roles or been signed to huge agencies,” she wrote. “More recently, I have grown even more frustrated at what I think is a missed opportunity for these so-called ‘nepo babies’ to own their position and embrace it instead of complaining about it.”

“It’s such a double-sided thing,” she continued, “because I can also understand the frustration of getting in the door, and then once you’re there it’s like, ‘Okay, now show us what you can do,'” Gourin said. “But as an actor, that’s the most exciting thing to me. It’s a driving force to want to prove yourself. This guilty thing over ultimately having a gift is something you should just work out yourself, and put into your work.”

She wanted to be an actor herself, but didn’t want to be associated with Nicholson

Tessa Gourin and three others posing for a photo together.
Marc John (R) and Tessa Gourin (2nd R) attend the launch party for Original Defend Brand Defend Brooklyn Flagship Store on February 10, 2016, in New York City. (Photo Credit: Rob Kim / Getty Images for defend Brooklyn)

Gourin was very interested in becoming an actor as a child. “My mom wouldn’t let me act when I was younger, and I can respect that,” she said, although she thinks she would’ve been great. As she grew older, she became more fearful that if she pursued acting, she would be blacklisted as a result of who her father is.

“I was afraid people would think I was tacky or that I was riding off his coattails,” she said. “But this person doesn’t want me in his life, so how would you use that to your benefit?”

Gourin respects Jack Nicholson as an actor

Jack Nicholson winning an Oscar award
Oscar Winner Jack Nicholson backstage at Academy Awards Show, March 23, 1998 in Los Angeles, California (Photo by Getty Images/Bob Riha, Jr.)

Tessa Gourin says she has respect for Nicholson as an actor. “I really want this to come across: If I were to discredit anything about his acting, then that wouldn’t make me an artist, because making art and being the world’s greatest dad are not the same thing,” she said.

More from us: Kirk Douglas Didn’t Leave a Penny of His Multi-Million Dollar Fortune to His Children

“I was dealt a really [unfortunate] card, but I’m not gonna let that destroy me,” she added. “In fact, I’m gonna use it to fuel me. I feel like every really good artist, what’s at their core, what their ultimate hardships and conflicts are within their lives — that’s what drives them, and that just happens to be mine.”

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!