Nick Nolte, 77, on the 'Special Experience' of Acting with Daughter Sophia, 11, in New Movie
Few father-daughter duos have captivated audiences onscreen, but Nick Nolte and his 11-year-old daughter Sophia Lane Nolte have an electric chemistry.
The 77-year-old actor stars alongside Sophia in Til Schweiger’s Head Full of Honey, a remake of his German film about a grandfather, Amadeus, who suffers from Alzheimer’s and his granddaughter, Matilda, who sets out to give him one last adventure in Venice, Italy — where he met his beloved wife.
Nolte tells PEOPLE acting opposite Sophia in her film debut was a “very special” experience.
“I was quite surprised [that she wanted to act] because I didn’t think that she was really that interested in films even though I’ve been an actor all of her life and she knew I made films but I didn’t know that she had paid really much attention to it,” he says. “She never looked like somebody that said, ‘Wow, I want to be an actor.'”
Despite Nolte’s surprise and Sophia’s inexperience, their chemistry on screen was palpable and showed evidence the young girl has inherited her father’s talent.
“What you saw in that film was a relationship between a father and a daughter and you don’t really get it in real life because parents have a little bit of love and a little bit of a disciplinarian attitude that kind of shuts downs that ‘I love you’ kind of thing,” Nolte says. “We got some intimacy that’s just going to be precious for our memories.”
He adds, “It was very special.”
While Nolte says he loved working with Sophia, whom he shares with actress Clytie Lane, he admits he was worried about the impact such intensely emotional scenes would have on her.
“That was a concern,” he says. “I discussed that with her mother. [Sophia] doesn’t get affected with adulation or criticism. She really rides the middle of the road really well.”
As for whether he’d ever act with her again, Nolte says he’d do it in a heartbeat.
“I’m almost 80 and I don’t want to retire, ever. I don’t know what I’d do,” he reveals. “If there came another film that I could do with my daughter, I’d do it in a second. Whether she would do it, I don’t know. I would never force her to do anything.”
Schweiger, who co-wrote and directed the original German film Head Full of Honey is based on, tells PEOPLE Sophia “had such a magic to her.”
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“I think she’s such a pure human being and she’s shining,” he says. “When I met her, from [that] moment, I said she would be perfect for the movie. She shined.”
As for the chemistry between the two, the director says it was natural for his pair of leads.
“You can’t act chemistry,” he says. “If you have two actors that actually love each other, it goes unexplained. That’s the same thing in the relationship between Nick and his daughter.”
He adds laughingly, “[Nolte] told me that she always calls him granddad and he said to her, ‘Why do you always call me granddad?’ and she said, ‘Because you look like one.'”
Head Full of Honey is in theaters Friday.