With all eyes on Michael Douglas today — or, more specifically, the release of his much anticipated sequel to “Wall Street” — WWD takes a look at the actor, pre-Catherine Zeta-Jones.
On July 9, 1984, the paper ran a profile of Douglas, who was fresh off his success in “Romancing the Stone.” “I love my work and I’m really fortunate,” he said. “It’s like an adult sandbox. It’s make-believe.” Still, Douglas admitted “there’s not a lot of good material out there,” which also explained the producer’s cap he wore on the film as well as on “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “The China Syndrome.” “Finding a good script is like falling in love with a girl,” he continued. “You flirt with her a little bit and then you’re hooked. You can’t get her out of your mind, and that’s what happens with my projects. It takes so long to make a movie, and you can’t get a divorce from it, so you’ve got to make sure that it’s the right one.”
Despite his acting pedigree — he’s the son of actors Kirk Douglas and Diana Dill — Douglas waited until his senior year at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to pursue drama — and only when “they forced me to choose a major.” But he went on to New York’s Eugene O’Neill Theater and, later, did a string of off-Broadway shows until CBS Films brought him to Los Angeles. “[California] was the most exciting place to be, with the music scene and the student movements,” Douglas recalled. “I was a hippie.” Not exactly your Gordon Gekko-type. But the following line, in response to what drives him, could well have come from Gekko’s “Wall Street” lips: “[What drives me is] the energy I get from wanting revenge,” Douglas said, only half-kidding. “I’m a fairly vindictive guy, and I think this can be channeled positively.”