Michael Douglas is one of the few actors who actually appears to be a walking paradox. A household name, an estimated worth of over $200 million, a father (Kirk Douglas) who was one of the world's biggest film stars in the 1940s, and a wife whose father is younger than he is, Douglas has indeed gained fame and acclaim. His parents (Kirk and wife Diana Douglas) divorced when he was six, and he went to live with his mother and her new husband.
Only seeing Kirk on holidays, Michael attended Eaglebrook school in Deerfield, Massachusetts, where he was about a year younger than all of his classmates. Deciding he wanted to be an actor in his teenage years, Michael often asked his father about getting a "foot in the door". Kirk was strongly opposed to Michael pursuing an acting career, saying that it was an industry with many downs and few ups, and that he wanted all four of his sons to stay out of it. Michael, however, was persistent. When he started his career in the mid 1960s people were all too ready to tag him as "the next Kirk Douglas". He defied all those critics by accepting sensitive, quiet roles, a far cry from the macho, leading-man, hero parts that his father was most famous for. It didn't earn Michael much credibility, but it earned him his own identity.
Although he made his film debut in Cast a Giant Shadow (1966), his breakthrough role was on the TV series "The Streets of San Francisco" (1972) opposite screen veteran Karl Malden. Michael gained quite a following on this show, and left it to produce One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). His own life was never brilliant either. He had dreams of acting alongside brother Joel Douglas, the one brother out of his three to which he was closest (he would only see Peter Douglas and the late Eric Douglas when he visited his father), but Joel wanted no part of the acting his family was famous for. In 1977, Michael married Diandra Luker, 14 years his junior; they had one son together, Cameron. The marriage eventually failed.
In the 1980s Michael tried his hand at comedies, the most successful being Romancing the Stone (1984), its sequel The Jewel of the Nile (1985), and The War of the Roses (1989), in which he co-starred with Danny DeVito and Kathleen Turner. It was in the 1990s, though, in which he gained the most notorious aspects of his reputation. He starred in Basic Instinct (1992), a thriller, heavy on sex and violence, that was a worldwide hit. Having played a similar role in Fatal Attraction (1987), it did indeed appear that he was being typecast in "man against woman" type roles, and pictures like Disclosure (1994) did nothing to dissuade that opinion. He finally tried to break away from this image with The American President (1995) and The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), yet when he started dating Catherine Zeta-Jones, 25 years his junior, this image continued, even after their marriage.
After two children with Jones, Michael is trying to settle down to become a more "family-oriented" actor. The comedy Wonder Boys (2000) and the Douglas-clan movie It Runs in the Family (2003) were box office flops, and it appears Michael is again looking for a career change. Trying his hand now at light-hearted comedies, like the re-make of The In-Laws (2003/I), he hopes to break away from his past reputation.
|Catherine Zeta-Jones||(18 November 2000 - present) 2 children|
|Diandra Douglas||(20 March 1977 - 1 June 2000) (divorced) 1 child|
Often plays very successful, wisecracking, in control business executives and political figures
Gravelly, smoke-burnished voice
Named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. His mission: to focus worldwide attention on nuclear disarmament and human rights. 
Ranked #74 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
Roomed with Danny DeVito when first starting out.
Older brother of Joel Douglas.
Graduated from the University of California.
Graduate of Choate Rosemary Hall.
His second son and first child with Catherine Zeta-Jones, a boy named Dylan Michael, was born on 8th August about 6 p.m. at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre near Beverly Hills. The baby weighed in at 7 pounds and seven ounces and measured 21-1/2 inches. He met Catherine at the Deauville Film Festival in France in August 1998; they began dating in March 1999 and got engaged on New Year's Eve 1999.
Father of Cameron Douglas.
Has two sons: Cameron Morrell (b. 13 December 1978), with Diandra Luker, and Dylan Michael (b. 8 August 2000), with Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Attended Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, MA.
Michael is exactly 25 years older than his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones. The two of them share a birthday, September 25th.
Is of Russian-Jewish, Scottish, and Irish heritage.
As of 2002, he and Sir Laurence Olivier are the only two people in history to win Oscars for both Best Picture and Best Actor (although Olivier won them simultaneously for the same film).
Initially turned down the role of Judge Wakefield in Traffic (2000). He later accepted only after the script underwent extensive re-writes.
Daughter Carys Zeta Douglas with Catherine Zeta-Jones; Carys was born the 20th April of 2003, at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, New Jersey.
Thursday, December 11, 2003, he was host, together with wife Catherine Zeta-Jones, at the 2003 Annual Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Olso Spectrum in Oslo, Norway.
Has worked with three actors who share roles with his father. Kirk Douglas played Doc Holliday in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). Val Kilmer played the part in Tombstone (1993) and then appeared with Michael in The Ghost and the Darkness (1996). Dennis Quaid also played Holliday in Wyatt Earp (1994) and appeared with Michael in Traffic (2000). Kirk played Ulysses (Odysseus) in Ulysses (1954), based on The Odyssey. Michael appeared in Don't Say a Word (2001) with Sean Bean, who played Odysseus in Troy (2004).
In 1980, he was involved in a serious skiing accident, which sidelined his acting career for three years.
In September 1992, he underwent treatment for alcohol and substance abuse at Sierra Tucson Center.
Was named to Quigley Publications' Top 10 Poll of Money-Making Stars six times between 1985 and 1995, hitting a high of #2 in 1987. Surprising, despite a career that has spanned seven decades, his father, Kirk Douglas, never made the list, the annual poll of movie exhibitors that ranks the top stars in terms of box-office drawing power.
He and The China Syndrome (1979) co-stars Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon have all won Oscars for leading roles. Douglas won for Wall Street (1987), Fonda for Klute (1971), and Lemmon for Save the Tiger (1973).
Stepson of Anne Douglas.
Turned down the role of Oliver in Love Story (1970) despite being offered 10% of the gross.
He endorsed Rep.Richard Gephardt (D-MO) in the 2004 Democratic primaries.
His performance as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street (1987) is ranked #25 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
He has been active in handgun control since John Lennon's murder in December 1980.
Reason for being born in New Brunswick, N.J.: His parents (who had a small apartment in Greenwich Village, N.Y.) were visiting his mother's sister (who was married to one of the founders of Johnson & Johnson which is headquartered in New Bruswick) when he arrived prematurely.
September 2007 - has residences in both New York City and Bermuda.
Recovering from knee replacement surgery [April 29, 2009].
The Sunday Times estimated his and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones' net worth at $278 million. 
Studied acting with Michael Howard in New York City.
Friends with New York Jets owner Woody Johnson.
Has a tumor in his throat and will undergo weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, but expected to make a full recovery [August 16, 2010].
His paternal grandparents (Jacob Danielovitch and Bryna) immigrated from Russia to America in 1912.
Announced on "Late Show with David Letterman" (1993) that he had Stage IV throat cancer and that he has started radiation and chemotherapy. [August 31, 2010]
He was nominated for the 2011 New Jersey Hall of Fame for his contributions to the Arts and Entertainment.
Brazilian soccer star Maicon was supposed to be named after Michael Douglas. His father was a huge fan of Kirk Douglas and wanted to name his own son after Kirk's son. However he could not read or write and a clerk spelled Michael as Maicon. His full name is Maicon Douglas Sisenando.
Is fourteen years older than his first wife Diandra. He was 33 and she was 19 when they married.
He was inducted into the 2012 New Jersey Hall of Fame for his contributions to Arts and Entertainment.
Will receive the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's 12th annual "Monte Crisco" award in April, 2012 [December 14, 2011].
In the late 1960s, Michael shared a New York apartment with fellow actor Danny DeVito at 338 West 89th Street in Manhattan where the rent was $75 each per month.
His acting mentor was the late Karl Malden.
I'm not a big filmophile. I don't watch movies a lot for a hobby. I spend all my time watching sporting events. Because, opposed to movies, you can never tell how they're going to end.
[on "Inside the Actors Studio" (1994), answering an actor's question about whether to move from NYC to L.A.] Don't go to L.A. unless there's work. It's one of the most frustrating and depressing places to be an actor. The problem is that it has no center. I would try to do something here first.
When you're making pictures out of heartfelt passion, it hurts when someone calls them a calculated business move.
I'm impressed with the people from Chicago. Hollywood is hype, New York is talk, Chicago is work.
[on wife Catherine Zeta-Jones] She is not only beautiful but also very deep and we understand each other extremely well. I love her above all. Catherine is the woman of my life. A dream.
I don't know about Brad Pitt, leaving that beautiful wife to go hold orphans for Angelina [Angelina Jolie]. I mean, how long is that going to last? I mean, don't ask me what happened with Renée Zellweger. I don't know how you get married for four months. And Julia [Julia Roberts] with Lyle [Lyle Lovett].
From the moment I met Catherine [wife Catherine Zeta-Jones] and we formed our family, I was a new man, very different from the one I used to be. This is the result of my everyday life with her, of the intense love we have for each other, of the great need for each other that we have, and of the great respect that we have for one another. There is a time when you become sarcastic, you lose the passion, and, when you are blessed again, and you have the fortune to love somebody the way I love my wife, you understand that you have to nurture your partner and not take everything for granted. What a marvelous gift!
 The exciting thing about making movies today is that everything is up for grabs. And you had better grab.
Revenge is a very good motivation if you can direct it. It's healthy. Very healthy.
Wonder Boys (2000) was a huge disappointment personally. I loved the movie and we didn't even get critically acknowledged as far as awards go. I thought it was a fucking disgrace. I'll be honest - it really hurt my confidence. It was a punch in the gut. In fact, it was my father who helped me through it. His favorite movie is Lonely Are the Brave (1962). Nobody saw that when it came out, nobody's seen it since. My father's disappointment in that movie helped me get over mine.
When my daughter Carys wants to get married I'll be as rough with the guy as Catherine's [wife Catherine Zeta-Jones] dad was when he checked me out. He gave me the once over and then some.
Having a little girl is incredible. I tell you it's an insight. I think guys who have sisters have a big advantage, understanding the female psyche.
As soon as I met Catherine [Catherine Zeta-Jones] I told her I wanted to have babies with her, and the moment I found out that she had the same birthday as me - tadaah! Then when I discovered she loved golf, I realized all my fantasies had come true. I've lucked out at this time in my life. I just lucked out. I'm so impressed by her intelligence, sense of humor and work ethic.
Times have changed and sex sells. Around 1990, I voluntarily went into rehab because I was drinking too much and some smart-ass editor said, "Oh, another boring story about an actor going to rehab. Let's give him sex addiction". Then it became, "Self-confessed sex addict!"
My life does take a bit of work. I certainly know how much guys like Catherine [Catherine Zeta-Jones], and well deserved. She's fantastic and beautiful inside and out, she's a talented, talented actress, really good mom and a heck of a wife.
I was there the night John Lennon was shot, three blocks away. It left a lasting impression on me. It motivated me to do whatever I could to lobby for small-arms control.
I admire Albert Finney very much, his performances always look so effortless. And of course, my good friend Jack Nicholson, who lives life to the full, and who never ever does things by halves. He's a real hero!
When you are a second-generation success, you are provided for. And that certainly was a big opportunity. But you don't have that "rags-to-riches" story, which is always a much more dramatic story to plot. Your success is not one that is as easily accepted by the people outside. Or they don't really have an appreciation of what you have accomplished. As a producer, my successes came fairly early in my career; as an actor, they came much later. Winning the Academy Award for Wall Street (1987) really helped me to finally overcome that "second generation" thing. It's hard for people, no matter how generous and gracious they are, to really allow you any slack. They say, "Oh, it must have been hard to be Kirk Douglas' son", but they don't really want to accept it. You grow up in this business and all that means is that you don't get the joy of succeeding. If you succeed, it's expected. If you look around you can see that there are hardly any second-generation people that have succeeded at all. It's a minefield of disasters, of broken careers and self-destruction out there. The public's perception is that you didn't have to do anything. So if you succeed, it's just assumed. If you don't get success, you're an asshole like everybody else.
 I create challenges by the roles I take. I'm sort of proud of the fact that I'm not really typecast. People are always trying to get a handle on what you do. With me either it's my sex trilogy - Fatal Attraction (1987), Basic Instinct (1992) and Disclosure (1994) - or my businessman trilogy - Wall Street (1987), The Game (1997) and this picture I'm doing now called A Perfect Murder (1998). I've been fortunate that, within those categories, I've been able to choose different types of roles, and I am proud that the audience has been able to accept me in whatever type of role I play. They are not the typical "movie star" roles. They're more ambivalent characters. Sometimes they are morally depraved. They are not the outright positive type of images that you attribute to selecting a "star"-type role. And the pictures themselves are more oddball. I've been very fortunate in that area, too. I've taken chances and so far the audiences have basically condoned those choices. They have allowed me to do those different types of roles. I do pictures for myself, because I figure if I like them, some other crazy people out there might like them, too. You know, once you've gained your confidence and done some bizarre, strange films with some roles that have been successful, it gives you the confidence to go out there and take more chances.
Actors are paid to be selfish and self-involved.
Those British film certificates explained in full: "Oh, I get it, it's simple. PG means the hero gets the girl, 15 means that the villain gets the girl, and 18 means everybody gets the girl."
[on his career and his favorite films] I always say you work as hard on your failures as your successes. I like my track record, I like my batting average. I got a real good batting average. A lot of movies. Not a lot of grand-slam home-runs, lot of singles, doubles, triples. Lot of hits, you know? Small but kind of ultimately worked out. Kind of fiduciary responsibilities and budgets. The ones that stick out are the ones nobody wanted to make, from Falling Down (1993) to Fatal Attraction (1987), things like that. Or ones that were so bizarre. The War of the Roses (1989), Wonder Boys (2000).
[on if he enjoys working on indie films] It's challenging, and as I say, it makes you go back to being much more instinctual and not overly planning or overly preparing. You do your homework before and just go, but it's really sort of where the pictures lie that you just wanna do. You try to mix it up, anyway. You always try to get a commercial picture or so-called "commercial" film in there from time to time, mixed up with an independent or a smaller or a character piece. So yeah, I'm pretty flexible. I enjoy it, I really do. It's something I like and am passionate about.
[on researching his characters] With Black Rain (1989) I spent a lot of time with homicide detectives, and I spent a lot of time with different brokers on Wall Street (1987). It helps get the rhythm of the piece and the tone, and how overplayed or underplayed it might be. That's also the magic of movies: You get to hang out and live these different lives. I think a certain amount of that helps the verisimilitude.
King of California (2007) was just, I thought, a really great, fresh, original kind of script. I loved the tone, the mix of tragedy, comedy, and drama, and that it was a good part. Kind of a challenge, and I was excited to work on it.
On Basic Instinct 2 (2006): Yes, they asked me to do it a while ago, I thought we had done it very effectively. Paul Verhoeven is a pretty good director. I haven't seen the sequel. I've only done one sequel in my life, The Jewel of the Nile (1985), from Romancing the Stone (1984). Besides, there were age issues, you know? Sharon still looks fabulous. The script was pretty good. Good for her, she's in her late forties and there are not a lot of parts around. The first one was probably the best picture of her career - it certainly made her career and she was great in it.
It's hard in my business to find new friends because you're always suspect of what their motives might be. And while I don't like that about myself, I tend to get a little more cautious about making new friends. The people that you knew either when you were starting out in your career or in college didn't take your success as part of the equation of your friendship. They are the ones you love and trust. I would like to be more open about meeting people, but it's hard.
I do most of my preparation before the filming process starts. Your principal choices are done beforehand and then if you feel like you've nailed it, and you have adequate time, then you get to try something else. One of the biggest lessons I have learned as an actor is that it's all just celluloid, it's all disposable. They only use a little bit and you try to remind yourself of that so that you can take chances and burn film if you've got to. Make a fool of yourself. Do something that's not right. And that's the biggest risk and opportunity.
Unlike your average profession, acting usually comes in concentrated doses. When you're an actor, it's anywhere from two and a half to five months of intense work and then it's done. That's the hardest part of film acting. There is no audience response, so you really don't get any immediate satisfaction. What I really love is the feeling of nailing something. You nail the scene. Most of the time you don't shoot movies in continuity, you only do things in parts, so nailing a scene is really a rewarding sensation.
When you are a second-generation success, you are provided for. And that certainly was a big opportunity. But you don't have that 'rags-to-riches story,' which is always a much more dramatic story to plot. Your success is not one that is as easily accepted by the people outside. Or they don't really have an appreciation of what you have accomplished. As a producer, my successes came fairly early in my career; as an actor, they came much later. Winning the Academy Award for Wall Street really helped me to finally overcome that 'second generation' thing. It's hard for people, no matter how generous and gracious they are, to really allow you any slack. They say, 'Oh it must have been hard to be Kirk Douglas's son,' but they don't really want to accept it. You grow up in this business and all that means is that you don't get the joy of succeeding. If you succeed, it's expected. If you look around you can see that there are hardly any second-generation people that have succeeded at all. It's a minefield of disasters, of broken careers and self-destruction out there. The public's perception is that you didn't have to do anything. So if you succeed, it's just assumed. If you don't get success, you're an asshole like everybody else.
The process of making a movie continues to amaze me. There is a certain magic that happens. And you never know when it's going to be. But while a writer is alone with their word processor, or a painter is alone in a studio, or a musician is working on a song, movie making is a big kind of collaborative family. Certainly it starts with the written word, but then it becomes a collaborative art and that process never ceases to amaze me. It's almost mystical. It's something that is really alive and fresh.
I do pictures for myself, because I figure if I like them, some other crazy people out there might like them, too. You know, once you've gained your confidence and done some bizarre, strange films with some roles that have been successful, it gives you the confidence to go out there and take more chances.
[on the death of Karl Malden in 2009]: It was Karl who, more than anyone, got me to understand that an actor is just one part of a whole team that makes a TV series or movie work. And thanks to him, I learned about the dichotomy of standing alone in a craft where one must collaborate.
[on his decision to give the lead role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) to Jack Nicholson instead of his father Kirk Douglas] My father has played up his disappointment with that pretty good. God bless him, he's 93. I finally said, 'Dad, I worked six years getting this together...' I have to remind him, I shared part of my producing back-end (credit) with him, so he ended up making more money off that movie than he had in any other picture.
[on the sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)] There was a recession when the first movie arrived in 1987. There's a recession now. Greed, which Gordon Gekko declared as being good, hasn't just survived but has thrived amid easy credit, sub-prime mortgages and an America that ignored the signs of an oncoming market collapse. We brought Oliver Stone a script. Stone, the son of a stockbroker, wanted to do it.
[Of Karl Malden]: He was fantastic. He just had a tremendous discipline, tremendous ethics. He insisted that next's week's script would be there when we were shooting that week's script. Every time between setups, between breaks, we'd go in the trailer and run lines for the next's week's show. That's the kind of discipline, training I got from Karl.
Not going public with having cancer was not much of an option, even if I had objected. When you are a celebrity, nothing remains secret for very long. If it helps bring attention, then that is a major upside to this whole thing. Millions of families are going through the same thing my family and I are now going through. If I can bring any relief or encouragement to those suffering, that's the good news.
[on his on- and off-screen chemistry with Karl Malden, who played Lt. Mike Stone]: I've had mentors. Karl Malden was clearly a mentor and one of the most important people in my professional career. He was a tremendous influence on me in so many areas - such as work ethic. But I think that's probably why I do all these grey characters, I don't see a lot of heroes around.
(On dropping out of Cutthroat Island (1995)) I was fairly far down the road with that film, but I didn't pull out right before production - it was four or five months before. I just didn't feel comfortable doing a picture with the director married to the leading lady. After a couple of drafts, I didn't like where it was going. There was all this momentum to go ahead, but it didn't smell good.
(2001, on wrapping Falling Down (1993) the same day the Rodney King riots began) You know, as we finished that film the riots were going on in L.A. I'll never forget the last day of shooting - that's literally when it all started. We were working in the Valley and, when we finished, I headed to the airport. It was a war zone. You could see dots of fires all over the place, all heading for the west side of town. I got my family on a plane - I didn't even know where it was going.
(2001, on why he thinks Black Rain (1989) didn't do better at the box office) It was hard to know who to root for. And people here were uncomfortable with race stuff and talking about the bomb. There was a critic, who'll remain nameless, who called it a racist film. I called him up and asked, "Have you ever been to Japan?" He said no and I said, "Then what the hell are you talking about?" The Japanese loved it. I loved it - I thought it rocked from top to bottom.
(2001, on his sex scene with Jeanne Tripplehorn in Basic Instinct (1992)) In a scene like that, what I try always to do is make the actress feel comfortable, let her know that I will be looking out for her. OK, I'm going to touch your breast here. So there's none of that where she feels, Hey, what are you doing? It's sort of like doing fight sequences. You go through the beats. I'm going to go boom, kiss, kiss, rip. Then it's action and you do it. It's the most unspontaneous thing in the world. The difficulty of doing a sex scene is that sex is the one thing in movies that your entire audience knows about. Nobody in the audience has been killed and most haven't taken a bullet or been in any brutal fights. Lovemaking, everybody's an expert.
(2001, on why he and Catherine Zeta-Jones sold photos of their newborn baby) It seems odd, I guess, for the United States. But Catherine is an international star and, in England, the paparazzi become like bounty hunters and go to extraordinary extremes to take a photograph they can sell. When you spend your whole life protecting your name and likeness, how do you deal with these people? I've been really open about it, saying, Look, you want to take a photograph of me and sell it? We'll split the money, and I'll give my half to charity. When we were going to have a baby, we knew a bounty hunt would happen. So when we were contacted by a magazine about their doing a layout, paying us for it, then syndicating the photos - a fairly common practice in Europe as opposed to here - we simply saw it as a way to build financial security for our new son and control what was going to be a madhouse. I'd rather do that than have some guy harassing us, though that happens anyway.
Catherine was a tremendous surprise in my life. After my divorce I was puttering along quite well as a single guy and couldn't believe how honest you could be with ladies, as long as you didn't date two of them in the same town at the same time. They knew I was seeing other people. Then I got struck down, I was just bowled over by Catherine, I was smitten with her. The age difference has been irrelevant to us.
Kirk's career was constant, overwhelming. The guy didn't stop. Back then they were doing five movies a year. My father did 90-plus films. He was Spartacus! I always admired his tenacity and stamina but he was intimidating to me as a child. Like a lot of actors, he was consumed with ambition and his career. He was also consumed with guilt because of the time he spent away from the family. It took him a long time to come to terms with it. But we get on very well now.
I lost 35 to 40 per cent of my net worth. I decided to just weather out the storm. I waited, didn't do anything and the next year we kind of came back to where we were the year before but I lost two years. Now I manage my own funds. I am much more conservative these days in my investments. (On the 2008 crash)
I was always shocked when so many people who saw Wall Street (1987) said I was the person who influenced them and inspired them to go into investment banking. I'd say: 'I was the villain,' and they would say: 'No, no, no.' They didn't see me that way, so it was all very seductive I guess.
Like any great thing, like a fine wine, it's better off left alone. [Ruling out a post-series Streets of San Francisco reunion movie]
|Basic Instinct (1992)||$15,000,000|
|The American President (1995)||$15,000,000|
|The Game (1997)||$20,000,000|
|A Perfect Murder (1998)||$20,000,000|
|Wonder Boys (2000)||$5,000,000|
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