The Kominsky Method
Michael Douglas stars as an actor turned Hollywood acting coach in a new Chuck Lorre comedy. Alan Arkin co-stars.
The Kominsky method Available from Fri 16 november, netflix
IT’S CERTAINLY A busy November for Michael Douglas. As the veteran actor’s star is unveiled on the Hollywood
Walk of Fame, the 74-year-old takes the lead role in new Netflix comedy
The Kominsky Method, which hits
our screens on Friday.
The eight-part series comes from Chuck Lorre, the brains behind The
Big Bang Theory, and sees Douglas playing a once-famous actor, Sandy Kominsky, who now earns a living in Los Angeles as an acting coach.
Among the cast is 84-year-old Alan Arkin as Sandy’s cranky longtime agent Norman, House actress Lisa Edelstein as Norman’s pill-addicted daughter Phoebe and Nancy Travis as Lisa, a divorcee who takes lessons from Sandy.
‘The show is about coming to grips with the reality of getting older,’ says Lorre. ‘There’s plenty of humour in the enormous cultural gap between Sandy and his fresh-faced students, most of whom are five decades younger than him.’
For Douglas, who is married to Welsh actress Catherine
Zeta-jones, the series is a rare chance to show his comedy skills after making his name in some of Hollywood’s biggest dramas (see panel, below).
We met up with Douglas during filming to hear more…
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT The Kominsky Method? It’s about the absurdities of ageing. This is dark humour, the kind I love. Like with my movies Falling
Down or The War of the Roses, in one moment you go from hilarity to tragedy. That’s what life is all about. I’ve always enjoyed comedy. I don’t get a chance to do it that often and so this is a wonderful opportunity.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR
CHARACTER? Sandy has been married three times and has a little too much alimony going out to all his ex-wives. He’s had good times and bad times, and has a bit of a sardonic attitude towards life.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES
FACING SANDY? He doesn’t really get that much work as an actor any more, but he’s a pretty respected acting teacher. The show is a contrast between the idealism of his young acting students versus the jaded view of somebody who’s been in the business for 40 years.
DANNY DEVITO GUEST STARS AS SANDY’S DOCTOR IN THE SERIES. WAS IT YOUR IDEA TO OFFER YOUR OLD FRIEND A PART?
When I was reading this script, the producers said they were thinking of Danny for the part of Sandy’s urologist. So I called him up and asked him to get on board.
DID YOU HAVE AN ACTING COACH WHEN YOU WERE
YOUNGER? Early on, I went to a very respected coach named Wynn Handman in New York. He did a lot for my confidence. My oldest son, Cameron, who is also an actor, recently got out of prison and went to Wynn’s classes for a refresh. I couldn’t believe Wynn is still teaching at the age of 96.
IF YOU WERE A COACH, WHO WOULD YOU USE AS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF ACTING?
It would have to be Jack Nicholson in
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which I produced. We filmed a lot of reaction shots from Jack – he didn’t speak, but just reacted to other people. It was such a good lesson in listening.
DID YOU HAVE AN ACTING MENTOR?
Karl Malden on The Streets of San
Francisco. He had an unbelievable work ethic. His stamina and discipline set an example for everybody else.
DO YOU THINK THE BEST WRITING IS NOW
ON TELEVISION? The kind of movies that I did in my early career were character-driven, but those films have become less and less possible. In the past 11 years I’ve been doing indie movies, things like King of California,
Solitary Man and Beyond the Reach. I did them for no money and they ended up playing in a cinema for a week.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE WATCHING ON TV?
I’m a news and sports junkie. I don’t really binge-watch shows. I don’t know where anyone gets the time to do that.
YOUR FATHER, KIRK DOUGLAS, TURNS 102 NEXT MONTH. TELL US ABOUT YOUR
RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM. I’m very proud of him. He was an immigrant to the US and it was a real rags-to-riches story. He had a lot of success, but in 1991, when he was in his seventies, he was in a helicopter crash. Two other men died, so he started questioning why he was still alive. He had this sudden change to become more spiritual. It made him a kinder, more generous man.
ALAN ARKIN PLAYS SANDY’S CRANKY AGENT NORMAN NANCY TRAVIS AS ACTING PUPIL LISA
DANNY DEVITO AS SANDY’S UROLOGIST