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Michael  Douglas

Michael Douglas

Academy Award-Winning Actor

Biography

An actor with over 30 years of experience in theatre, film, and television, Michael Douglas branched out into independent feature production in 1975 with the Academy Award-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Since then, as a producer and as an actor-producer, he has shown an uncanny knack for choosing projects that reflect changing trends and public concerns. Over the past 12 years, he has been involved in such controversial and politically influential motion pictures as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The China Syndrome, and Traffic, and such popular films as Fatal Attraction and Romancing the Stone. Most recently he could be seen reprising his role as “Gordon Gekko” in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, a sequel to the 1987 hit Wall Street. Read More >

Douglas has long been a champion of social and environmental causes. He has been especially active in working with the United Nations (UN) and was named a UN Messenger of Peace by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 1998. His two primary areas of focus are nuclear abolition and the prevention of small arms proliferation.

Douglas got his first big break when he was cast as a free-spirited scientist who compromises his liberal views to accept a lucrative job with a high-tech chemical corporation in “The Experiment,” and in such films as Hail, Hero!, in which he starred as a pacifist determined to justify his beliefs to his conservative parents, and to test them under fire in the jungles of Indochina. He soon appeared in prime time television in When Michael Calls, and in episodes of the popular series Medical Center and The FBI.

Douglas then landed the part of Karl Malden's sidekick in the police series The Streets of San Francisco, one of the highest-rated primetime programs in the mid-1970s and he earned three successive Emmy Award nominations for his performance and he directed two episodes of the series.

Douglas also devoted most of his time to his film production company, Big Stick Productions, Ltd. Long interested in producing a film version of Ken Kesey's grimly humorous novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, he purchased the movie rights from his father. A critical and commercial success, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress, and went on to gross more than $180 million.

In demand as an independent producer, he chose a chilling account of the attempted cover-up of an accident at a nuclear power plant for his next project. Attracted by the combination of social relevance and suspense, Douglas teamed up with Jane Fonda and they produced The China Syndrome which received Academy Award nominations for stars Jack Lemmon and Jane Fonda, as well as for Best Screenplay. The National Board of Review named the film one of the best films of the year.

Despite his success as a producer, Douglas resumed his acting career in the late 1970s, starring in Coma, It's My Turn and The Star Chamber. He also starred in Running and in the screen version of Broadway's longest running musical, “A Chorus Line.” As an actor/producer, he starred in the tongue-in-cheek romantic fantasy Romancing the Stone, a resounding hit that grossed more than $100 million. Douglas, Turner, and DeVito re-teamed in 1985 for its successful sequel, The Jewel of the Nile.

His next project, Starman, an unlikely tale of romance between an extraterrestrial and a young widow, was a sleeper hit and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for Jeff Bridges. In 1987, he appeared in two of the year's biggest hits, Fatal Attraction and Wall Street.  His performance as ruthless corporate raider “Gordon Gekko” in Wall Street earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor. Douglas next starred in Black Rain and teamed up again with Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito in The War of the Roses.

In 1988 Douglas formed Stonebridge Entertainment, Inc., which produced Flatliners, Radio Flyer, and the adaptation of the best-selling novel Shining Through. In 1992, he starred with Sharon Stone in the erotic thriller Basic Instinct, one of the year's top grossing films. He followed up with one of his most powerful performances in the controversial drama Falling Down. He also produced the hit comedy Made in America and starred in Disclosure, based on the bestseller by Michael Crichton. He went on to portray the title role in The American President and to star in The Game.

Next, his new production company produced The Ghost and the Darkness and The Rainmaker, based on John Grisham’s best-selling novel, as well as the action thriller Face/Off which proved to be one of 1997’s major hits. In 1998, Douglas starred in the mystery thriller A Perfect Murder. In 2000, Douglas starred in the critically acclaimed Wonder Boys and was nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Film Award for his performance. Douglas next appeared in the hit film Traffic which won four Academy Awards for Best Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor for Benicio del Toro, as well as an award for Best Ensemble Cast at the SAG Awards, and a Best Picture Award by New York Film Critics.

In 2001, Douglas produced and played a role in the outrageous comedy One Night at McCool’s, as well as starring in the psychological thriller Don’t Say a Word.  He also played a guest role on the hit comedy Will & Grace, receiving an Emmy nomination for his performance. Douglas starred in two films in 2003, including It Runs in the Family, which Douglas produced and starred with his father Kirk Douglas, his mother Diana Douglas, and his son Cameron Douglas. He also starred in The-In Laws. 

Douglas filmed a segment for Showtime’s children’s series What’s Going On? that dealt with the problems of child-soldiers in Sierra Leone. He also completed a feature-documentary, A Father, A Son, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, centered on the complex relationship between himself and his father, Kirk. Most recently, Douglas filmed the political thriller, The Sentinel, and starred in You, Me and Dupree with Owen Wilson, Matt Dillon, and Kate Hudson. In 2009, the American Film Institute awarded him the Life Achievement Award, the same award presented to his father, celebrated actor Kirk Douglas over 18 years ago. This is the first time two generations of a family have won the coveted award.

Douglas attended Choate School in New England and spent his summers on movie sets with his father. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California-Santa Barbara before moving to New York City to continue his dramatic training at the American Palace Theater and the Neighborhood Playhouse. 

No stranger to triumph over struggle, Douglas is fighting – and winning – a battle with advanced stage IV throat cancer. After chemotherapy and radiation treatments, he announced in January 2011 that his tumor is gone. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

An Evening with Michael Douglas

Inspired by Social Relevancy and Human Rights

OCF Michael Douglas PSA

Speech Topics

Moments of Peace

Great stories are made from a series of defining moments.  So are great lives.  In a passionate weave of experiences and insights, Michael Douglas will share it all with you.  Read More >

From the turbulence of growing up the son of a Hollywood giant to his rise to stardom to his decades of work as an advocate with the UN and other humanitarian causes, Douglas has always pushed past the edge to find Moments of Peace waiting on the other side. This program is a candid presentation and conversation that will inspire the risk-taker in all of us. Read Less ^

An Evening with Michael Douglas

Connect with Michael Douglas