05/04/1999 at 12:00 AM EDT

Nick Nolte, who's getting rave notices for his film, "Affliction," says there's good reason for the six-year delay between when he got the screenplay and when he stepped in front of the camera to film it. Nolte tells the Philadelphia Inquirer that he wasn't mature enough for the role in the early 1990s. "There were areas about the violence that I didn't get in the largest sense," says Nolte, who in the film plays Wade Whitehouse, a bearlike man burdened with the legacy of family violence and alcohol abuse. "I understood it from the dysfunctional family (standpoint)," he says. "But I really didn't understand violence as part of us from a genetic standpoint ... that there is this violent energy that exists in us."

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