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Michael Douglas Talks About "It Runs in the Family"

Three Generations of Douglas' Together Onscreen for the First Time

By Rebecca Murray and Fred Topel

It Runs in the Family

Kirk Douglas and Michael Douglas in "It Runs in the Family"

MGM
After decades of acting Michael Douglas has finally been joined onscreen by his legendary father, Kirk Douglas. In the relationship drama, "It Runs in the Family," three generations of the Douglas clan work together in a feature film for the very first time. Michael's son Cameron makes his feature film debut appearing alongside two actors who might have intimidated any other newcomer.

In this in-depth interview, Michael Douglas discusses finally getting the opportunity to work with his dad and being joined onscreen by his son and his mother. Douglas also shares how proud he is of his Academy Award-winning wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Do you regret that it's taken so long for you and your dad to get to work together?
Not really, because then he wouldn't have had the stroke and I think the stroke has - it's certainly changed him for the better. There's no question about it.

How so?
He's a kinder and gentler Kirk Douglas. He's got a great sense of humor and [he's] much more spiritually-minded. I don't think that would have been in the format before. Also I think it leaves a lasting impact on a lot of people in a positive way to see an actor with a stroke step up there and deliver.

Would that suggest that the two of you had an interesting relationship prior to this stroke?
Oh no, we've been close and gotten on for ages. I guess the old issue of conflict was... "Cuckoo's Nest" was always talked about. But no, I think [it's] a little bit like "It Runs in the Family." Everybody's just been in their own worlds, you know? I didn't grow up in Hollywood. My adult life, I kind of lived back East or other places, and we'd see each other. We always have gotten along fine. There really have not been big conflict issues.

What is it like to be an Oscar-winning couple now?
Pretty cool – pretty cool. I'm just so proud of her. It's something you never think is going to happen. I know how hard she worked. I was up there in Toronto the whole time they were doing the picture. The fact she never thought she would sing and dance again, and here you are in the picture, and you get an Oscar. It was well deserved, and I really respect [that] because acting is a craft. You know, singing and dancing, you can’t fake that.

Has new and impending fatherhood changed your perspective on work and life in general?
Well, it makes me want to do a movie that maybe my kids can see before the ages of 13, for openers. Catherine just finished doing a voice for "Sinbad." Work-wise, we're going to do a picture together in the Fall called "Monkeyface," directed by Steven Frears. A large part of the reason for doing a picture then is because with the new baby, it'll give us a chance to all be together before she takes off. I'm sure it's going to be a busy, active time for her after having two kids.

What's "Monkeyface" about?
It's kind of in the Elmore Leonard dark comedy spirit, you know? We play adversaries kind of going at each other.

Are you relishing the whole diaper thing all over again?
Yeah, I'm good at it. It's a matter of satisfaction. I'm good at changing diapers. I'm good with kids so I'm excited about it. And this time around versus 24 years ago with Cameron, where you're at the height of your career as a producer, and then still trying to establish yourself as an actor, and getting that all going because for me it wasn't until '86, with "Wall Street" and "Fatal Attraction," that kind of established the acting pinnacle. I was a lot like my father in that I was pretty consumed with my career and my family kind of came second. Now you feel that you have accomplished what you have, you can really enjoy your family so much more.

NEXT PAGE: Inherited Traits, His Father's Shadow and Humor

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