Willy Jack Pickens is the main antagonist turned into an anti-hero in Where the Heart is (2000) and the former boyfriend of Novalee Nation.
It begins with Novalee Nation sets off on a road trip from Tennessee to California with her boyfriend, Willy Jack Pickens.
While driving through Sequoyah, Oklahoma, Novalee notices that her shoes have fallen through the hole on the floor of the car while she was napping. Later, she asks Willy Jack to stop at the local Walmart so that she can go to the bathroom and buy new shoes.
When Novalee reaches out for her change at the checkout, the sum of $5.55 sends her into a panic as we learned early on that she believes that the number 5 is a bad omen and runs barefoot outside to discover that Willy Jack has abandoned her and left only her new camera behind.
Meanwhile, Willy Jack is arrested and accused of fraternizing with an attractive stranger who he had no idea is actually 14 years old. He is sentenced to serve time where he composes a country song entitled "Beat of the Heart."
Upon being released from prison and making it to Las Vegas, Willy Jack becomes a one-hit-wonder with his song and teams with an music agent name Ruth Meyers who gives him the "Billy Shadow" name.
Three years later!, in Las Vegas, Willy Jack attempts to branch out his career and starts speaking with a well-known agent named Johnny DeSoto. At the same time, Novalee who is also in Las Vegas, enters her photo in a contest and wins.
Later, Ruth Meyers informs Willy Jack in his hotel room that his old cellmate Tommy Reynolds is suing him for the credit of the song he's recorded. Willy Jack stated that he wrote the song and asks Ruth what to do.
Ruth tells Willy Jack that he should ask Johnny DeSoto to help him (having somehow found out about his talk with him) and terminates her connections with Willy Jack.
Severely depressed at his ruined career following the lawsuit, Willy Jack becomes an alcoholic and starts popping pills while driving with a woman. He wanders off drunk and collapses on a railroad track where he is unable to move as a train approaches.
On Americus's 5th birthday, Novalee picks up a newspaper and sees an article about Willy Jack having lost his legs some months before and recently having been robbed of his wheelchair.
Later, Novalee visits Willy Jack in the hospital and he reveals to her that he lied to her on their last day together when he said he couldn't feel the baby's heart.
Then, he confesses his whole life would've been different if he'd been able to undo this one lie.
Novalee realizes that she has made the same mistake with Forney, drives Willy Jack home to Tennessee and then continues to Maine to find Forney.
Later, Novalee tells him that she really does love Forney and they return to Oklahoma and marry. The final scene is of their wedding which takes place in a Walmart.