Michael Dou­glas might have cel­e­brated 75 bi hdays but he’s not le ing any­one call him old


MICHAEL DOU­GLAS IS DONE. Not with Hol­ly­wood, no. But with play­ing the typ­i­cal roles that cat­a­pulted him to fame back in the ’80s and ’90s. The ac­tor with a full sil­ver mane that makes his peers en­vi­ous is un­cov­er­ing new ground. He dipped his toes into the su­per­hero genre with Ant-Man and the se­quel. He be­came a prom­i­nent hu­man rights and po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist. And now, he’s star­ring in an award-win­ning Net­flix com­edy ti­tled The Komin­sky Method. He’s not about to re­tire any­time soon.

How’s your dad, Kirk?

He’s well. He’s 102 and he’s just dis­cov­ered Face­time on his phone. So he now calls me ev­ery night, which is a bit crazy. [laughs] He’s still very sharp.

Your fa­ther is a revered fig­ure in Hol­ly­wood. Your mother was an ac­tress too. Was it them who in­spired you to be­come an ac­tor?

Prob­a­bly. I went to the University of Cal­i­for­nia but didn’t know what to study. In my third year, they took me to the of­fice and told me I had to de­clare a ma­jor. I said, “Ok, I’ll try the­atre.” I’d watched my mother on stage grow­ing up, and I’d vis­ited my fa­ther on set, so I thought it would be eas­ier ‒ it wasn’t that I had a pas­sion for act­ing. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do.

Then, my fa­ther came to see my first per­for­mance and he thought I was bad.

He was sup­port­ive, but hon­est. “You were not very good, son,” I re­mem­ber him telling me after­wards.

I suf­fered from stage fright. I used to have a bucket ready be­cause I would get sick be­fore I went on stage. But I kept work­ing at it and the bet­ter I got, the more I en­joyed act­ing. It took me many years.

Was your fa­ther a hero to you when you were young?

Truth­fully, my fa­ther was in­tim­i­dat­ing. I looked at him as the man I could never be. He al­ways felt much larger than life. So I was look­ing up, but look­ing way up.

I was aware that he was a star. He was very busy and worked an aw­ful lot, so he was al­ways bright and pos­i­tive with me. But at the same time, I think he also felt a cer­tain amount of strain and pres­sure.

How do you think you re­sem­ble him, and in what ways do you feel the both of you are dif­fer­ent?

I think I re­sem­ble him in my tenac­ity and my en­ergy to com­plete a job. I prob­a­bly have a lit­tle more of my mother’s com­pas­sion. Hope­fully I’ve in­her­ited my fa­ther’s abil­ity to help peo­ple. He had the clas­sic rags to riches story and I have the ut­most re­spect for that.

Your roles were very dif­fer­ent from your fa­ther’s.

Yes, to a point. Grow­ing up, I was able to watch my fa­ther’s friends, be it Frank Si­na­tra, Burt Lan­caster, Tony Cur­tis, or

Janet Leigh, etc. I saw them as real peo­ple with their in­se­cu­ri­ties and foibles. So I un­der­stood the work ethic of act­ing but it took me a lit­tle longer to get out of my fa­ther’s shadow and es­tab­lish my own iden­tity. Early in his ca­reer, he did six or seven roles play­ing the sen­si­tive young man, be­fore his break­out turn as a fighter in

The Cham­pion. I also had those sort of roles be­fore I dis­cov­ered that the ras­cal, qua­sivil­lain char­ac­ters suited me bet­ter.

Talk­ing about ras­cal char­ac­ters, how do you look back on the role of Gor­don Gekko in Wall Street?

It was one of the best parts I’d got. It helped that Oliver Stone di­rected the movie. His his­tory with male ac­tors is im­pres­sive. Most male ac­tors give their best per­for­mance with him. Ob­vi­ously I got at­ten­tion for it and I got the Os­car. That role was ma­jor for me and helped me step out of my fa­ther’s shadow and be my own per­son. I’m in­debted to a great part and an ex­cel­lent cast.

Why do you think some peo­ple con­sider him to be a hero even when he clearly isn’t?

That has al­ways con­fused and sur­prised me. I am shocked by the num­ber of peo­ple who’ve en­tered Wall Street declar­ing that Gor­don Gekko is their idol. I would tell them “Hey, this guy went to jail. He was a bad guy.” And they’d say “Naah, naaah.” [laughs]

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