Michael Douglas is a living movie legend. At 78 years old and with more than fifty years in the industry, the prodigal son of the great Kirk Douglas is receiving the applause of an audience that adores him these days at the Cannes Film Festival. Yesterday, during the inaugural gala to which he attended accompanied by his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones and his daughter Carys, he emotionally won the Palme d’Or of Honor with a standing ovation. “This means so much to me because there are hundreds of festivals around the world, but there is only one Cannes,” he said.
This Wednesday, the American interpreter and producer sat down in front of the journalist Didier Allouch to hold a relaxed meeting before the press in a packed Buñuel room in the Palacio de Festivales. Previously, the general delegate Thierry Fremaux recalled that France first discovered him in the early 1970s when he appeared in the television series the streets of san francisco, in which Karl Malden was his mentor. “I learned a lot from him,” she said.
He also has good memories of Cannes because “my father and my stepmother Anne Buydens, who died three years ago and with whom I had an excellent relationship, met here.” Thanks to everything that Malden taught him in a series that was shot for four years, six days a week, the young Douglas launched into production, where he won his first Oscar with Some one flies over the cuco’s nidus. “It was difficult to find the ideal director, but Milos Forman was incredible. He had enormous talent. We were friends and I miss him,” he commented on this film, which won a total of five main statuettes from the Hollywood Academy and which was difficult to find distribution.
Here in Cannes my father and my stepmother Anne Buydens met, with whom I had an excellent relationship
Douglas first went to the Croisette in 1979 with Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon to present the china syndrome. Thirteen years later, in 1992, she entered a competition Basic Instinct by Paul Verhoeven, who was the talk of that edition for the sex scenes that catapulted Sharon Stone. “The script was very well written and Sharon was the perfect actress for the role. Watching a lot of these sex scenes on the big screen in the Grand Palais was a bit overwhelming for a lot of people. We had a very quiet dinner afterwards, everyone was digesting it”, he recalled to the applause of those present. “Now there is talk of the figure of the privacy coordinator, but before the actors rehearsed the scenes a lot as a choreography and we explained how we were going to act so that there were no problems.”
Douglas has mentioned the word instinct several times during the talk. “It’s important to trust your first instincts.” Also to defend projects that have been rejected: “You have to have passion and that this project has a solid structure to defend it.” He has fond memories of Kathleen Turner and Danny De Vito, friends he worked with on the box office. The War of the Roses, The Jewel of the Nile and behind the green heart.
Watching the ‘Basic Instinct’ sex scenes on the big screen at the Grand Palais was a bit overwhelming
Always following the shadow of his father, who has always praised his work as an actor and who understands that he could not spend more time with him as a child when he divorced his mother, the actress Diana Douglas, Michael has confessed that winning the Oscar for best actor for his formidable role as the ‘villain’ Gordon Gekko in Wall Street, helped him escape from that long shadow. “In itself, the nomination meant the recognition of my professional colleagues. The Oscar gave me the ultimate confidence.”
And he has praised Oliver Stone’s demanding work on the film: “Every actor gives his best performance in a Stone film.” Words of gratitude have also been lavished on Steven Soderbergh, who addressed him in traffic and Behind the Candelabra, where he played the eccentric homosexual pianist Liberace in a story that landed in Cannes and in which he shared plans and a bed with Matt Damon. “I got the script right after I finished treatment for tongue cancer. I was so skinny I thought I’d never work again, but Steven gave me a year to prepare and I’m very grateful.”
Douglas is also the protagonist of the documentary The Child Prodigy, by Amine Mestari, which examines Michael’s difficult beginnings as a stage actor to the present day. It took a while for her relationship with the camera to develop until she discovered that acting was all about cheating on her. “And I lie every day.” Lately we have seen him in the Netflix series The Kominsky method -“comedy fascinates me”- and in the saga of ant manfrom Marvel: “you feel like an idiot with the green screen but then the result is amazing.”
For him, family is fundamental and he supports the writers’ strike, for which he believes there will be a final solution “since the writers have a legitimate claim for having been collecting minimum wages.” His latest project is his first foray into a period film in the shoes of Benjamin Franklin, on which he has been working for eight months in France. On a technological level, he is drawn to the idea of being able to speak to a hologram of himself 30 years younger. And what would he say to his past self?
“Take your time,” he responded immediately.
Acting consists of knowing how to fool the camera