Mike Nichols

Remembering Director Mike Nichols

Mike Nichols

Mike Nichols

By Sean Tuohy

Mike Nichols knew film. The director—who died Nov. 20 at the age of 83—was a true master behind the camera.

Since the early 1960’s, Nichols brought audiences very human stories. From his classic hit ‘The Graduate” to 2007’s “Charlie Wilson’s War,” he knew how to get the most out of his actors. Born in Berlin, 7-year-old Nichols and his family fled Germany just as World War II began. The director grew up in and around New York City, and his first feature film was “Who is Afraid of Virginia Wolfe.” He would also win eight Tony Awards!

For nearly 50 years Nichols brought inspired filmmaking to the screen. Below are some of his best.


Based on the true events surrounding the death of Karen Silkwood, Nichols’ edge-of-your-seat thriller featured his expertise in conveying real human moments. Nichols truly put you through the mental trauma that the main character went through.

“Primary Colors”

Funny, witty, and snipping at the edges of the political world, this fact-based story follows a presidential race. Nichols work with John Travolta proves that given the right direction, the “Saturday Night Fever” star can do captivating work on screen.   

“Charlie Wilson’s War”

This is one of the best and funniest movies about the Cold War. Nichols tells the story about a charming heavy drinking U.S. Senator who helps fight the Soviet Union in 1980s Afghanistan. With Tom Hanks and Phillip Seymour Hoffman lighting up the screen as the unsure duo, this movie is hard not to love.

“Regarding Henry”

If this film doesn’t warm your soul it means you’re dead inside. This movie has such heart that it makes anyone with a pulse tear up. The story—about an awful family man who loses the ability to care from himself after a shooting—is anchored by one of Harrison Ford’s best performances as he learns to rely on his family in order to recover. He’s not the same man at the end, and you won’t be the same person after you cry for a good hour after the credits roll.

“The Birdcage”

This is one of the funniest movies ever made. Period. It is impossible to find someone on this planet that hasn't seen it and didn't laugh. The movie is heartfelt and moving, and puts a twist on traditional core family values. It’s smart, snappy, and pretty ballsy considering the year it came out. This might go down as Nichols’ finest film and for good reason.