Michael Douglas is a man of many titles: a celebrated actor, a respected producer, and a United Nations Messenger of Peace. The latter, however, is perhaps the most honorable of all. Douglas has long been an advocate for both nuclear disarmament and the elimination of the weapons trade, tirelessly working to promote these causes through various initiatives and events.
His passion for disarmament was ignited when he produced the film “The China Syndrome.” His position was further strengthened when he learned that his father’s hometown had been affected by the Chornobyl disaster. Douglas is deeply committed to these issues, having served as the longest-serving Messenger of Peace.
The Joys of Acting and Producing
Michael Douglas considers himself primarily an actor, but he also enjoys producing because it involves more adult responsibilities and risks. He has shared how producing allows him to be more creative and learn the business side of things. The chameleon-like ability to adapt to different situations has served him well in various facets of life.
The actor believes the same quality helps him fit in different movie roles as long as he stays true to his values and remembers why he got involved in the first place. Douglas maintains that an impulsive and intuitive approach to filmmaking can lead to success, even when the going gets tough.
On August 16, 2010, a representative for Michael Douglas announced that he had been diagnosed with throat cancer, later revealed to be tongue cancer. Douglas underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment. He credits the public health system that discovered his cancer after numerous specialists failed to do so. The actor has since participated in fundraisers for the Montreal hospital where he received his diagnosis and the affiliated McGill University Health Centre.
He attributed his cancer to stress, previous alcohol abuse, and years of heavy smoking. In January 2011, he announced that the tumor was gone, although he had lost 32 pounds due to the aggressive treatment. Douglas requires monthly screenings due to a high chance of recurrence.
He Stars in a Documentary
Michael Douglas appeared in the 2004 documentary "Tell Them Who You Are," which offered an insightful look into the life and work of acclaimed cinematographer Haskell Wexler. The documentary includes conversations with many other legends from the film industry. These included the likes of Jane Fonda, Julia Roberts, and Paul Newman, to name a few.
Directed by Wexler’s son, Mark Wexler, the film delves into the mind and methods of one of Hollywood's most influential cinematographers. Critics praised the documentary as one of the best made about filmmaking and appreciated its exploration of Wexler's work and the complicated relationship between fathers and sons.
His Enduring Friendship with Danny DeVito
Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito have been close friends for many years and are both successful Hollywood actors and filmmakers. Their friendship dates back to the 1960s when they shared an apartment as young men. DeVito fondly recalls Douglas doing the laundry, while Douglas remembers the "sock on the door" signal for privacy when either of them had female company. They remained friends and collaborated on several projects, including the 1984 hit film “Romancing the Stone,” alongside Kathleen Turner.
The success of the movie propelled Douglas to Hollywood's A-list after several lower-profile roles. DeVito and Douglas reunited for “The Jewel of the Nile” (1985) and the 1989 black comedy, “The War of the Roses,” which DeVito also directed. The actors continue to support each other both on and off-screen.