Arkin, Dou­glas come to­gether on Net­flix’s ‘Komin­sky Method’

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - NEWS - BY RICK BENT­LEY TRI­BUNE NEWS SER­VICE

LOS AN­GE­LES — It would be a log­i­cal as­sump­tion that with two Os­cars and cred­its that stretch back more than a half-cen­tury, there’s very lit­tle Michael Dou­glas doesn’t know about act­ing. He found out while work­ing on Net­flix’s “The Komin­sky Method” that he still has plenty to learn from his co-star, Alan Arkin.

In “The Komin­sky Method,” Dou­glas plays Sandy Komin­sky, an ac­tor who has turned a short run of suc­cess into be­ing a top Hol­ly­wood act­ing coach. Along with his long­time friend and agent, Nor­man (Arkin), the pair tackle life’s chal­lenges while try­ing to sur­vive in Los An­ge­les, a city that val­ues youth and beauty. Nancy Travis plays Lisa, a 50-some­thing re­cent di­vorcee who joins Sandy’s act­ing class and not only dis­cov­ers her hid­den tal­ent but starts a con­nec­tion that takes them both by sur­prise.

Both Dou­glas and Arkin have been work­ing in TV and film for decades but had not had the op­por­tu­nity to work to­gether un­til the Net­flix pro­duc­tion. Dou­glas has been a fan of Arkin’s work since see­ing the 1966 com­edy “The Rus­sians Are Com­ing! The Rus­sians Are Com­ing!”

“I’d for­got­ten about his Sec­ond City back­ground in com­edy and how good he was,” Dou­glas added. “I learned a lot from him in the time we were to­gether, just about comedic tim­ing and sense and he’s got cer­tain philoso­phies that were re­ally, re­ally help­ful. We talked a fair amount about pol­i­tics and he’s just a joy. He’s re­ally good and I think we both en­joyed the op­por­tu­nity do­ing eight episodes and the en­sem­ble feel of get­ting to­gether.”

The rule for Dou­glas over the years has been to pick projects that res­onate with him. He could re­late deeply with what Sandy Komin­sky is go­ing through. The first script re­minded Dou­glas of Wynn Hand­man, a teacher Dou­glas worked with years ago. Komin­sky re­flects how Hand­man was a nur­turer who gave ac­tors con­fi­dence.

The man who brought Dou­glas and Arkin to­gether is Chuck Lorre, whose pro­duc­ing and writ­ing cred­its in­clude “Two and a Half Men,” “The Big Bang The­ory,” “Mike & Molly,” ‘Mom,” “Dharma & Greg” and “Roseanne.” The in­spi­ra­tion for Lorre to create “The Komin­sky Method” came out of what he was feel­ing as he grows older in Hol­ly­wood.

The way Lorre looks at it is when it comes to the loss of friends and loved ones plus a dis­tanc­ing by a youth cul­ture that comes with ag­ing, the two op­tions are to cry or laugh. He opted to find the funny.

Dou­glas has not done a lot of com­edy, but he felt com­fort­able with “The Komin­sky Method” be­cause like so many other pro­duc­tions from Lorre, the sto­ries fluc­tu­ate between com­edy and tragedy. At the same time, Lorre got to work with two ac­tors he con­sid­ers to be leg­ends in the busi­ness. That was good and a lit­tle bad.

“It’s a lit­tle intimidating. It’s hum­bling, and it’s an op­por­tu­nity to learn. I got to watch two mas­ters at their craft up-close ev­ery day and watch and learn,” Lorre said. “What a gift that is to be able to go to work in the morn­ing and learn stuff you didn’t know. At this point in my life, see­ing things from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives, see­ing how things could be done dif­fer­ently, that’s great. I love that.”

Dou­glas, 74, con­tin­ues to land act­ing roles, in­clud­ing the comic book-in­spired “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” But he has ex­pe­ri­enced the kind of changes that come with get­ting older that in­spired Lorre to create the se­ries. Dou­glas had be­come frus­trated with how lit­tle at­ten­tion the smaller movies he made got (“Soli­tary Man,” “King of Cal­i­for­nia”), so he liked the idea of re­turn­ing to tele­vi­sion, where he got his first big ca­reer boost star­ring in “The Streets of San Fran­cisco.”

“Here’s a chance to play some com­edy, which I don’t nor­mally get a chance to do that of­ten in a for­mat like with Net­flix, stream­ing, where there are no com­mer­cials and it’s like a 25 to 35-minute movie. No time lim­its, lan­guage and all of that,” Dou­glas said.

“So it was a great op­por­tu­nity and sort of been my year between do­ing green screen movies, which I’d never done in my life be­fore, and now hav­ing a chance to do a se­ries like this with Chuck and Alan has been re­ally a treat.”


Danny De­vito, left, and Komin­sky Method.” Michael Dou­glas star in the new Net­flix’s se­ries “The

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