Nationality: American. Born: Michael Kirk Douglas in New Brunswick, New Jersey, 25 September 1944; son of the actor Kirk Douglas. Education: Attended Choate preparatory school, Wallingford, Connecticut; University of California at Santa Barbara, graduated in drama, 1968; studied acting with Wynn Handman at the American Place Theatre in New York City. Family: Married Diandra Luker, 1977 (divorced), son: Cameron. Career: Worked as an assistant director on a film starring his father, The Heroes of Telemark , 1965; also acted at the O'Neill Center's Playwrights' Conference during university vacations; made his screen debut in Hail, Hero! , 1969; appeared as Inspector Steve Keller in The Streets of San Francisco for TV, 1972–76; was co-producer of the Oscar-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest , 1975; signed a three-year production deal with Columbia Pictures, 1988. Awards: Best Picture Academy Award, for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975; Best Actor Academy Award, National Board of Review Best Actor, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Drama Golden Globe, for Wall Street , 1987; Hasty Pudding Theatricals Man of the Year, 1992; San Sebastian International Film Festival Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award, 1997; Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Special Prize for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema, 1998; Honorary Cesar
Hail, Hero! (Miller) (as Carl Dixon)
Adam at 6 A.M. (Scheerer) (as Adam Gaines)
Summertree (Newley) (as Jerry McAdams); When Michael Calls ( Shattered Silence ) (Leacock—for TV) (as Craig)
Napoleon and Samantha (McEveety) (as Danny); The Streets of San Francisco (Grauman—for TV) (as Steve Keller)
Coma (Crichton) (as Mark Bellows)
The China Syndrome (Bridges) (as Richard Adams) (+ pr); Running (Steyn) (as Michael Andropolis)
It's My Turn (Weill) (as Ben Lewin)
The Star Chamber (Hyams) (as Steven Hardin)
Romancing the Stone (Zemeckis) (as Jack C. Colton) (+ pr)
A Chorus Line (Attenborough) (as Zach); The Jewel of the Nile (Teague) (as Jack C. Colton) (+ pr)
Fatal Attraction (Lyne) (as Dan Gallagher); Wall Street (Stone) (as Gordon Gekko)
Black Rain (Scott) (as Nick Conklin); The War of the Roses (DeVito) (as Oliver Rose)
Shining Through (Seltzer) (as Ed Leland); Basic Instinct (Verhoeven) (as Detective Nick Curran)
Falling Down (Schumacher) (as William Foster/D-Fens)
Disclosure (Levinson) (as Tom Sanders)
The American President (Reiner) (as President Andrew Shepherd)
The Ghost and the Darkness (Hopkins) (as Remington) (+ co-exec pr)
The Game (Fincher) (as Nicholas Van Orton)
A Perfect Murder (Davis) (as Steven Taylor)
Forever Hollywood (Glassman, McCarthy) (doc) (as himself)
Wonder Boys (Hanson) (as Grady Tripp); One Night At McCool's (Zwart) (as Mr. Burmcister) (+ pr); Traffic (Soderbergh) (as Judge Robert Lewis)
Lonely Are the Brave (Miller) (asst d)
The Heroes of Telemark (Anthony Mann) (asst d)
Cast a Giant Shadow (Shavelson) (asst d)
One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (Forman) (co-pr)
Starman (John Carpenter's Starman) (Carpenter) (exec pr)
Flatliners (Schumacher) (co-pr)
Eyes of an Angel (The Tender) (Harmon) (exec pr)
Radio Flyer (Richard Donner) (exec pr)
Made in America (Benjamin) (co-pr)
Face/Off (Woo) (co-exec pr); The Rainmaker ( John Grisham's The Rainmaker ) (Coppola) (co-exec pr)
One Night at McCool's (Zwart) (pr)
Interview in Photoplay Film Monthly (London), May 1976.
"Dialogue on Film: Michael Douglas," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), July/August 1979.
Interview in Films Illustrated (London), September 1979.
Interview in Ciné Revue (Paris), 5 February 1981.
Interviews in Time Out (London), 23 August 1984 and 20 January 1988.
Interview in Films and Filming (London), December 1989.
Interview with Fred Schruers in Rolling Stone (New York), 14 January 1988.
"Business as Usual," interview with David Thomson, in Film Comment (New York), January/February 1990.
"Angry Everyman with a Reason to Smile," interview with Janet Maslin, in New York Times , 11 March 1993.
"Michael's Full Disclosure," interview with Nancy Collins, in Vanity Fair (New York), January 1995.
Douglas, Kirk, The Ragman's Son , New York, 1988.
Kaye, Annene, and Jim Sclavunos, Michael Douglas and the Douglas Clan , London, 1989.
Stresau, Norbert, Michael Douglas: Seine Filme, sein Leben , Munich, 1990.
Press, Skip, Michael and Kirk Douglas , Parsippany, New Jersey, 1995.
Current Biography 1987 , New York, 1987.
Collins, N., "Michael's Full Disclosure," in Vanity Fair (New York), January 1995.
Hoberman, J., "Victim Victorious," in Village Voice (New York), 7 March 1995.
Thompson, Anne, "The Art of the Hollywood Deal: Michael Douglas's Mini Movie Studio Moves Ahead with Four Films," in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 29 September 1995.
Griffin, N., "Going the Distance," in Los Angeles , October 1997.
Rajchman, Olivier, "La soupe au piston," in Cine Live (Paris), October 1998.
Cotillon, Laurent, Philippe Paumier, and Gregory Alexandre, "Mon brushing? Im-pec-cable," in Cine Live (Paris), October 1998.
Bouyxou, Jean-Pierre, "Il la grise comme du champagne. . . ," in Paris Match , 22 July 1999.
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Son of the equally famous movie icon Kirk Douglas, Michael Douglas has come to personify the contemporary, Caucasian middle-to-upper-class American male who finds himself the brunt of female anger because of real or imagined sexual slights. To this harried representative of his gender, any kind of sexual contact with someone other than his mate and the mother of his children is destined to come at a costly price.
In Fatal Attraction , he is an otherwise happily married man whose one-night stand with a seductress-from-Hell (Glenn Close) transforms his—and his family's—existence into a never-ending horror movie. In Basic Instinct —a title that purposefully features the same cadence as Fatal Attraction —he is a cop whose sense of professionalism evaporates when he becomes involved with a sexy murder suspect (Sharon Stone). Disclosure is a drama of sexual harassment in the workplace, only the tables are turned: the boss, the sexually aggressive harasser (Demi Moore), is a woman, while the underling, the happily-married nice-guy harassee (Douglas), is a man. The female characters in Fatal Attraction , Basic Instinct , and Disclosure are cutthroat villainesses, an anti-feminist's fantasy of a man-eating monster. Poor Michael Douglas is the Everyman who must contend with, and be victimized by, these women and their raging, psychotic sexuality.
A fourth film to add to this trio is The War of the Roses , only here Douglas's tormentor is his wife (Kathleen Turner), with whom he is in the throes of divorce and cannot agree on a property settlement. The War of the Roses extends the Douglas Everyman in that his tormentor does not come from outside the family circle. His character literally digs into the trenches and goes to war with the woman whom he once loved.
Falling Down is a natural extension of The War of the Roses . Here, Douglas plays an alienated powder keg who has lost his job and is estranged from his wife. All of his humanity has been stripped away by an uncaring society. One day, he explodes internally while his car is stuck in a traffic jam on a Los Angeles freeway, and he sets off on a violent odyssey across the urban landscape of Southern California.
Conversely, in Wall Street , Douglas for once gets to play the victimizer rather than the victim. Gordon Gekko is one of his most fascinating characters: the heaviest of heavy hitters, a stock and real estate speculator whose face adorns the cover of Fortune magazine. To Gekko, $800,000 is just another day's profit. Ambitious young stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) pursues Gekko, and soon becomes the master's protege. With this position comes a price, because involvement with the ruthless, passionless Gekko means twisting the rules, using insider information to trade stocks and artificially manipulate the market. If Gekko is no nice guy lost in a maze of aggressive females, he is another incarnation of the modern American male: the greedy yuppie personification of the Me generation, a white-collar criminal from skin to soul who is convinced that "greed is good," and who is a fitting corporate villain for the Reagan years. He is played by Douglas with just the right touch of menace and swagger.
Upon Douglas's earning major screen stardom in the mid-1980s with his delightful performance as an idealistic soldier of fortune in Romancing the Stone and its sequel, The Jewel of the Nile , it became easy to forget that he previously had enjoyed a successful career both in front of and behind the camera. In the 1970s, he co-starred with Karl Malden in the long-running television series, The Streets of San Francisco . He was the Academy Award-winning co-producer of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest . He had a nice supporting role in The China Syndrome (which he also produced), a first-rate drama about the attempted cover-up of a nuclear power plant accident and one of the most intelligent Hollywood films of the late 1970s. In 1983 he had an interesting starring role in The Star Chamber , a provocative drama about a judge who has come to regard as inadequate the legal system with which he is such an integral part, and who becomes involved with a diabolical vigilante group. After scoring in Fatal Attraction and Wall Street , Douglas proved he could play a Stallone-like action hero in his role as a New York cop in Black Rain .
During the second half of the 1990s, Douglas still kept playing yuppie victims and victimizers. He was the former in The Game , cast as a wealthy investment banker who becomes immersed in paranoia while participating in the title diversion; he was the latter in A Perfect Murder , an unnecessary remake of Dial M For Murder , playing a merciless commodities trader who schemes to do in his unfaithful wife (Gwyneth Paltrow). Douglas returned to the thriller genre in The Ghost and the Darkness , cast as a fabled American game hunter in 1896 East Africa. But in his best roles of the period, he deviates from these personas. First he reinvented himself as a suave, Clintonesque chief executive, a widower who begins dating a feisty environmental lobbyist (Annette Bening), in The American President. Then he gave his most acclaimed performance in years in Wonder Boys , cast as a disheveled, pot-smoking college English professor/writer who fears that he will be unable to repeat the success of his first novel.