Michael Douglas has cut his teeth in Hollywood mainly playing wealthy, self-obsessed megalomaniacs — and this summer he’s back at it again.
Already, the 65-year-old actor is building anticipation for his return to the role that earned him an Academy Award — the greed-stricken businessman Gordon Gekko. But while the September release of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps will amass no shortage of media attention, its perhaps Douglas’ subtle new comic-drama Solitary Man that more accurately depicts where the star is in his own life.
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“It’s a bit (introspective),” admitted Douglas while promoting the film. “I just thought (filmmakers) Brian Koppelman and Dave Levien’s script was so good and just when people have to sort of face mortality — I thought this was a very dark comedy way of approaching it and how people reach out in different ways.”
In the movie, Douglas plays Ben Kalmen, a Tri-State automobile tycoon whose business suddenly collapses, sending the personable divorcé into a mid-life crisis. Through a set of circumstances, he ends up loitering around an upstate university, hitting on young students and reuniting with an old college roommate played by Danny DeVito.
“I was happy when I heard they were considering him as one of my oldest buddies in the film,” said Douglas of his real-life pal. “Danny and I started out together in summer theatre and then were roommates together and have continued our friendship. It’s just always easier when you’re with someone you know and are friends and acting and don’t have to go through all that formality of introducing yourself and this or that. I understand more and more why people like to work together.”
But DeVito wasn’t the only person Douglas was happy to act alongside. As he gets older, it’s the exposure to young talent that perhaps surprises and keeps the veteran thespian fresh.
Filming the Wall Street sequel, he was just as impressed by English Oscar-nominee Carey Mulligan (An Education) as he was with Solitary Man co-star Imogen Poots — another young Brit.
“It’s sort of wild,” laughed Douglas. “To think that you can’t find a young American girl to play an upscale New York daughter.”