Michael Douglas realizes something about his filmography. “My entire career is contemporary films. Entire career,” he says. “I don’t have period movies…well, there’s one” — “The Ghost and the Darkness,” set in 1898 — “no special effects movies. I just do character studies.”
He also likes playing jerks. He plays one in “And So It Goes,” even if his character, fallen real estate shark Oren Little, has nothing on “Wall Street”’s Gordon Gekko or “The Game”’s Nicholas Van Orton. In fact he has little on Melvin Udall, the hyper-malcontent played by Jack Nicholson in “As Good As It Gets,” which, like “And So It Goes,” was written by Mark Andrus.
For Douglas, the tricky part comes when you have to make them likeable: “I love the challenge of playing a not very pleasant or attractive character who seduces and audience and wins them over in the end. I don’t know why.”
That said, Oren has a sympathetic backstory. His wife died and he’s lost a fortune in the 2008 economic collapse, forcing him to sell his McMansion and live in a fourplex with others, including his eventual love interest: a widowed lounge singer played by Diane Keaton.
“He just got killed. He got clobbered. He wasn’t prepared all of a sudden to lose everything financially and to lose his wife,” he explains. “He had in seven, eight years embittered himself. He was a serious drinker. He drank alone, isolated himself.”
“And So It Goes” amazingly marks the first time he and Keaton have appeared onscreen together. “Some of these actors are really smart and pick up the phone and say, ‘Let’s get together for coffee, maybe we can find something.’ I was never like that,” he says.
Still, he’s always been surrounded with greats: “I learned something from Paul Newman. Paul Newman always made an effort to surround himself with as good as actors as he could get. He wasn’t worried about himself. It’s about synergy.”
In fact, the only thing he didn’t like about the film was the mutt for whom he’s forced to care. “That dog was biggest pain the ass,” he says. “This f—ing dog couldn’t do anything. Anything. We worked around it.”
Douglas is bound for Comic-Con, where he’ll be shilling for Marvel’s “Ant-Man,” his first major special effects film, in which he’ll play lead Paul Rudd’s dad. “They actually pay you really well,” he says, excited.
He’s naturally asked to comment on the shocking departure of director Edgar Wright from the project. (He was replaced by the also capable Peyton Reed.) “It was a very big disappointment — moreso for him because he had a lot of years invested,” Douglas explains. “I’m an actor-for-hire. It’s not my production. But Marvel certainly has a pretty amazing track record, rightly or wrongly. I think the idea of someone with Edgar’s individual spirit collided with a big operation. But I think they’re all on relatively decent terms now.”
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