HFPA in Conversation: The Fearless Michael Douglas

by Kirpi Uimonen Ballesteros November 21, 2018
Michael Douglas, Golden Globe winner

magnus sundholm/hfpa

The relationship between Michael Douglas and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association spans over four decades.  It includes eight Golden Globe nominations, two wins and a Cecil B. deMille Award.  The second-generation actor got together with the HFPA’s Silvia Bizio and told why he got interested in his new TV show The Kominsky Method.

The Kominsky Method was a script that was submitted to me that said it was written by Chuck Lorre and I am a tremendous Chuck Lorre fan, going back to television series Civil, Dharma & Greg and Two and a Half Men.  Then of course for the last 10 years my family, my children, Catherine and I have grown up with The Big Bang Theory.”

The story is about an acting coach, Sandy Kominsky, in his early 70s in Los Angeles.  His best friend, Norman, is also his agent, played by Alan Arkin.  40 years ago they were young actors together- Norman wasn’t a great actor so he drifted out and became an agent.  And as Norman became more and more successful at a big agency Sandy’s career diminished, he divorced three times and ended up doing the one thing which he loved and he was good at - teaching acting.  How much did Michael bring himself into Kominsky?

“You always bring yourself, you are your persona. I love character acting and so you try to find those elements that are true to you and those elements that make it a little bit of a character. I had acting teachers when I was a young man. I understand the flow of what's going on. Contrary to Sandy, I've had a pretty good career. I haven't been divorced three times.  But I have a sense of that person.  I think it's always a combination of yourself and then depends how much characterization you need to bring.  Sometimes the most important thing is to not be afraid of yourself, not to be afraid to look at yourself in the mirror.”

Someone once told him the camera can always tell when you're lying. “I felt this tremendous pressure to try to find this reality, to strip off a tissue, your mask and get down to the skeletons.  It was a painful way of acting, it was a painful way.  Then one day - I think it was the year of Fatal Attraction and Wall Street - I said, wait a minute, I tell little lies or I exaggerate probably every day.  Does anybody know?  No.  And I thought, acting’s not about being scared of telling a lie.  It's about telling lies.  Just telling lies.  Once that happened, you just enjoy the privilege, the joy of performing.  So Sandy Kominsky is a kind of a combination, I think of me, grounded in me with little flourishes and touches here and there.”

Listen to the podcast and learn how Michael found his confidence as an actor; why he thinks it is challenging to balance entertainment and a strong message in a movie; why The China Syndrome became politically relevant 12 days after the movie came out; what being the United Nations Messenger of Peace means to him; what is his take on gun control; why he got the Gordon Gekko role in Wall Street; how was it working with Oliver Stone; why winning the Oscar was important to him; why he is often reminded about Fatal Attraction and the house that served as location; why he likes streaming; how was it working with Alan Arkin; why he got emotional in a ceremony where he received the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; why he is going to work with Ryan Murphy; how he is taking care of his health after surviving stage-four cancer.

Listen to the conversation here or, for immediate access to all of our podcasts, subscribe to HFPA in Conversation on iTunes.