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Michael Douglas: “Youth is wasted on the young”

December 7, 2011

Mr. Douglas, you are known to be quite the charmer. Have you ever tried to pass those skills on to somebody else?

I do remember once I was very generous to my stepbrother at fourteen, drawing a vagina into the sand and then giving him a good sex education class.

Your first wife was 14 years younger than you and Catherine Zeta-Jones is 25 years younger. Are you ever afraid that your daughter might follow her mother’s example?

I mean looking at her experiences so far it could happen. Her father is an older guy, so that could very well be. People follow the patterns, so she might be attracted to older guys. Not the worst thing that can happen, by the way. Youth is wasted on the young, as we say. My wife is 25 years younger than I am and I am certainly a better husband now than I would have been 25 years ago.

Does it make you proud?

Of course I feel blessed that I have a wife that is 25 years younger.

Is confidence your secret?

At our first meeting I told Catherine that I was going to be the father of her children.

Did you actually know that or was it more of a pick up line?

At that point I didn’t know. We had cocktails that evening and obviously it took me a few drinks to tell her that.

What was her response?

She told me that she had heard a lot about me. (Laughs)

Would you like to shoot another film with her?

I hope so. But I think romantic interests don’t work for married couples on film, so I would be the villain and she would have a young stud-muffin leading man.

That wouldn’t make you jealous?

No, no, I mean it’s the movies…

Even if she kisses someone in a close-up on screen?

Think about what she had to watch me do over all those years! I don’t think either of us is that jealous.

It seems like your marriage is pretty…

…boring! (Laughs)

I was going to say healthy. Even though I have to admit you play the cheating husband awfully well on screen.

Oh, thank you!

Is it harder to play a character that is generally unlikeable?

Probably, but it’s just that I enjoy them so much. It’s the challenge; it’s fun to win over an audience. I don’t know if likeable, pleasant characters have enough conflict for me to want to do them. I admire those people, but I’ve never been that kind of screen presence who can do nothing. I need to do something.

You come from a family of actors. How did that prepare you for a lifetime in the film industry?

I was fortunate to grow up and watch how my father behaved – how Tony Curtis, Burt Lancaster, and Frank Sinatra where at the house all the time. You see stars with their insecurities and how they conduct themselves, so I think that’s kept me level. But I am really impressed with watching Matt Damon, Clooney, Brad and all of these guys and how they deal with all this. Also Shia LaBeouf is a very solid young man as well, opposed to all the stories you hear about all these jerks at that age.

How do you remember your twenties?

Best time of my life. From 1963 to 1968 I was at the University of California in Santa Barbara, California. It was as good as it gets.

Why?

You know, it’s college. I grew up on the East Coast and was going to go to an Ivy League School, but at the last minute I decided to be a hippy. It was the protest movements on the war, peace movements were going on at our university. It was a fantastic time.

Do you still have friends from that time?

Oh yeah. I mean Danny DeVito for example! We met at school in ’66 and then we were roommates in 1968. I still have a lot of my old college-friends. Because it’s tough when you get into show business and try to find good friends. People are goofy about the movie business, so you end up counting on friends you knew before you were successful. It is harder to make new friends because you are a little more cautious.

Knowing all that, would you want your kids to keep up the family tradition or do you warn them about the business?

I desperately try to stay neutral about that. Too much advice can be seen as a hostile gesture and I think the more you stay out of it the better it is. My father came to my first plays in college and told me I was terrible. He was very relieved because he thought he wouldn’t have to worry about me becoming an actor anymore.

Which one of your kids do you think will follow in your footsteps?

My son Dylan seems to like all the Broadway stuff, singing and dancing. My mother and my father were actors, so for me it was a natural thing to do. I can definitely imagine one of them will end up an actor as well.

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Short Profile

Name: Michael Kirk Douglas
DOB:
25 September 1944
Place of Birth:
New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
Occupation:
Actor

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One Response to this Interview

  1. A great man. A great interview. A great website.

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