×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Only Main Actors Still Alive From The Cast Of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

A timeless tale that honors the enduring nature of the human spirit, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" hasn't lost an ounce of its freshness since its release in 1975. Based on the 1962 Ken Kesey novel of the same name, the film adaptation follows war veteran Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) who pretends to have psychological issues to avoid being imprisoned for his many crimes. Upon being sent to a psychiatric hospital, McMurphy finds himself at odds with the iron-fisted Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) as he and the other patients rebel against their situation. 

The film celebrates societal outsiders while giving an unflinching glimpse into the oppression experienced by these individuals within the system, and that propelled it to major success upon its release. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" brought in over $100 million at the worldwide box office and was nominated for nine Academy Awards. In a rare instance achieved only by 1934's "It Happened One Night" and 1991's "The Silence of the Lambs," the project managed to take home the five major Oscars for best picture, director, adapted screenplay, actor, and actress. 

The true heart and soul of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" lies in its eclectic cast, whose rich performances continue to resonate with audiences. While a good few names from the nearly 50-year-old film are no longer with us, a good amount of the movie's most well-known cast members, including lead star Jack Nicholson, are thankfully still around today and have amassed notable legacies for themselves. 

Jack Nicholson (Randle Patrick 'R.P.' McMurphy)

Having garnered acclaim for his defining parts in classics such as "Easy Rider" and "Chinatown," Jack Nicholson was an accomplished actor before he signed on to play Randle "R.P." McMurphy in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." His effortless charm helped audiences root for McMurphy as the character fights tooth and nail to preserve his individuality while empowering those around him. The now-iconic role earned Nicholson his first of three Academy Awards, making him one of only three male actors to achieve this trifecta, the others being Walter Brennan and Daniel Day-Lewis. 

The following years would see Nicholson's career explode. He continued garnering praise and Oscar nominations for films such as "Reds," "Terms of Endearment," and "A Few Good Men," while also accumulating widespread recognition for his roles in such mainstream favorites as "The Shining" and "Batman." His career continued in the new millennium with movies such as "Anger Management" and "The Departed," but following 2010's "How Do You Know," the celebrated performer has yet to make another big-screen appearance. While Nicholson has been quiet as of late, the actor insists that he hasn't retired, rather wanting to take a step back from the limelight while waiting for projects that might interest him. 

Danny DeVito (Martini)

One of Randle McMurphy's most loyal followers, Martini (Danny DeVito) made for one of the most lovable characters in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Martini's softer, childlike disposition perfectly contrasts with some of the institution's more hard-edged personalities while providing a disturbing picture of how some cope with such a horrifying reality. 

DeVito was among the first performers cast for the film, having initially portrayed Martini in the novel's 1971 off-Broadway adaptation. Since then, his catalog of beloved performances has grown to include films such as "Batman Returns," "L.A. Confidential," and "Hercules," to name a few. He would even re-team with Jack Nicholson on a few occasions with his roles in "Terms of Endearment" and "Mars Attacks!" DeVito has arguably achieved his most remembered acting roles on television. His role as Louie De Palma on 1978's "Taxi" scored DeVito an Emmy with two additional nominations for his work on the show. In more recent years, fans have come to know him as rough and rowdy pub owner Frank Reynolds on the hit FX series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

Along with his extensive acting portfolio, DeVito has had his fair share of experience behind the camera. Over the years, he has directed and acted in films such as "Throw Momma from the Train," "Matilda," and "Hoffa," the latter also starring Jack Nicholson. Additionally, he's garnered producer credits on best picture nominees such as "Pulp Fiction" and "Erin Brockovich." 

Brad Dourif (Billy Bibbit)

Billy Bibbit (Brad Dourif) was among the characters most affected by Randle McMurphy's journey of rebellion and self-discovery. His awkward, childish nature stems from his mother's harsh parenting, never allowing him to make his own decisions. McMurphy aims to give Bibbit a much-needed new lease on life, having him join his many escapades. Sadly, Bibbit's progress is crushed by the manipulative Nurse Ratched, resulting in a tragic end for the lovable character. 

Similar to the journey of his on-screen persona, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" presented a fresh new opportunity for Dourif. The film proved to be a breakthrough performance for the up-and-coming actor, even earning him both an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win for best supporting actor. His talents have gone on to an endless array of fan-favorite films including "Blue Velvet," "Mississippi Burning," and "The Lord of the Rings" movies. 

However, Dourif is perhaps best known for his contributions to the horror genre, having starred in such beloved franchises as "Alien," "The Exorcist," and "Halloween." Arguably his most iconic role is that of the possessed killer doll Chucky, whom Dourif voiced in the original 1988 "Child's Play," its many sequels, and the ongoing 2021 Syfy television series. 

Christopher Lloyd (Max Taber)

While Randle McMurphy makes his fair share of friends upon getting thrown into the ward, he isn't without opposition. Perhaps the most vitriolic of the bunch is Max Taber (Christopher Lloyd). Unlike most of the voluntarily committed patients, Taber is one of the few considered too dangerous to integrate with the outside world. His rambunctious, unpredictable nature makes him the wild card of the group, but even he is moved by McMurphy's rebellious nature, being the first patient to cheer on Bromden's (Will Sampson) escape at the end. 

Similar to Brad Dourif, Lloyd's role as Taber on "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" would be the first – but far from the last — to utilize his talents. By far his most recognizable character is Doc Brown, the eccentric scientist who cracks the code to time travel in the "Back to the Future" trilogy and its extended media. Lloyd's other iconic roles include Commander Kruge in "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock," Judge Doom in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," and Uncle Fester in the live-action "The Addams Family" duology. Lloyd also made a memorable impression on TV audiences as Reverend Jim "Iggy" Ignatowski on "Taxi," even taking home back-to-back supporting actor Emmys in 1982 and 1983. 

Michael Berryman (Ellis)

While not having the biggest role, few faces in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" are as instantly memorable as Ellis (Michael Berryman). During his small sections of the movie, he is revealed to be a victim of the hospital's continued electroshock therapy practice, with little to no ability to function on his own. A moment cut from the film sees Ellis position himself against the wall like a crucified figure and wet himself. 

Ellis would be one of the first movie roles of famed character actor Berryman. Born with hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, a condition that prevents the development of hair, nails, and sweat glands, he was cast in several eccentric horror and B-movie roles throughout his career. His most familiar one came directly after "Cuckoo's Nest" when Berryman took part in Wes Craven's 1977 "The Hills Have Eyes" as the savage cannibal sadist Pluto, a part he reprised in the film's 1984 sequel "The Hills Have Eyes Part II." Additionally, Berryman is known for his roles in "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," "The Devil's Rejects," and "The Lords of Salem." Berryman remains active in the horror scene, with several upcoming independent projects for the performer.