The Jack Nicholson Character Maynard James Keenan Identifies With

Some people just can’t hold their tongues, can they? What’s worse is that most of them are unaware that they can’t control what comes out of their mouths. On the other hand, there are also others who are aware of it but cannot prevent themselves from expressing whatever comes to their mind.

Does it make a difference whether you’re aware or not? Most probably not, but for instance, at least Maynard James Keenan is trying to become a better version of himself, although he still struggles to keep his mouth closed. Does that count as an improvement? Let’s look at what the Tool frontman shared about his struggle with his thoughts and choice of language.

Keenan has come to be known as the artist who stays at the back but makes the most noise. He’s also infamous for having very strong opinions that are often debatable. For instance, he made headlines when he called their fanatics insufferable retards.’ When he received backlash in return, the singer quickly defended himself while speaking to Billboard to clarify that he was targeting the ‘fanatics’ and not their core group of fans, who are amazing people. This was only one instance that Keenan was criticized for his comments.

So when he was interviewed by Kerrang! in 2021, he was asked whether he was a reluctant musician because he feared receiving negative comments from his audience. The logic behind this question was based on the fact that Maynard James Keenan has also been a harsh critic as a music fan, even before becoming a musician himself.

The frontman replied, “Yes, there’s that, but I think it was also fear: you’re afraid you’ll become that guy onstage.” It would be awful to receive that kind of response from the people who come to see your shows. However, Maynard also had a unique approach to people and situations, so he added, “I’ve always assigned characters to people to go, ‘What role describes you?’”

For the vocalist, the answer was, “There’s probably no better role in understanding my wiring than Jack Nicholson’s character in the film As Good As It Gets’: ‘I open my mouth in the wrong way, but I do want to be a better man. I just can’t help myself sometimes – it’s like Tourette’s.’”

If you remember the movie, Nicholson’s character Melvin finally takes the pill that his doctor prescribes him and tells Carol, ‘You make me want to be a better man.’ Melvin is the character that Maynard compared himself to as Melvin is the type of person who is notorious for saying the first thing that comes to his mind without considering the circumstances and how his words might affect the other person.

So just like Melvin, Keenan is also aware that he sometimes can’t control himself, but he has his own pace on the journey of becoming a better man. That’s all anyone could ask for, right? Self-awareness plus taking action, so should we expect a new and improved Maynard James Keenan in the foreseeable future?