WASHINGTON—With an award-winning career in entertainment spanning 50-plus years, Michael Douglas is an icon, but he also holds important titles as a father, grandfather, husband, friend and mentor. The Hollywood vet recalls powerful advice, pivotal college moments and more in his AARP The Magazine cover story. After a year of what Douglas calls “couch potato-ing,” the 76-year-old is looking forward to getting back to work, with no plans to retire anytime soon.
Currently, Douglas plays an acting coach who is past his prime, grappling with the question of what actually matters in the long run of life in the Netflix comedy “The Kominsky Method.” The first two seasons are streaming now, with the third season in progress.
The following are excerpts from ATM’s April/May 2021 cover story featuring Michael Douglas available in homes starting in April and available online now at www.aarp.org/magazine/.
On the importance of honesty:
“If you lie, people lose faith in you and it just makes everything more difficult.”
On being mentored by Karl Malden:
“Those days, when you were the second banana on a police show, usually you were a step or two behind the lead because the focus couldn’t hold both actors. Karl was the first guy who said to me, “Come on up.” He shared the spotlight, cared about others, said I was the son he never had. A good mentor can save you a lot of pain.”
On the lessons he’d like to pass on to his children and grandchildren:
“A work ethic. Courtesy to your fellow human beings. And kindness. Which are traits you have to work at and rehearse.”
On collaborating with women:
“My mother was an actress. I spent a lot of time with her backstage at the theater. So I’ve never been threatened by formidable women. I’m proud that for nearly every woman I’ve worked with, it’s been one of her best roles. Kathleen Turner, Geneviève Bujold way back in Coma, Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, Annette Bening, Sharon Stone. I try to make the environment as comfortable as possible, give them respect and protection. This season of “The Kominsky Method” will be my fourth time working with Kathleen and there is a wonderful comfort in that.”
On continuing to work into his 70s:
“Work keeps you going, keeps you sharp. Of course, these days I’m looking around the set, like, I’m the oldest person here, man. Where did the time go? But I love the whole process. We’re not doing brain surgery; we’re showbiz.”
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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.