Of course it could be said that Douglas, also a feted producer and recipient of the 2009 AFI Life Achievement Award, had an easier ascension to the top than most. He’s of course the son of American movie icon Kirk Douglas - the epitome of the Hollywood hard man - and Bermudian actress Diana Dill.
But it takes toil and talent to get to the top and stay there. With blockbusters such as Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct and Wall Street headlining his resume, atop a list of other such household hits, Douglas has done much more than ride on his father’s coat tails.
Douglas was annointed a producer worth his salt in 1975, when he produced Milos Forman's adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, starring Jack Nicholson in perhaps his most splendid performance.
But the dream originally belonged to Kirk Douglas, who owned the film rights to the story but was unable to get it produced. Seizing the moment, Douglas the younger persuaded Dad to sell on the rights and the rest, as they say, is box office history.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest cleaned up at the Academy Awards, earning Best Picture and Best Director awards as well as Best Actor for Nicholson, Best Actress for Louise Fletcher, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Laurence Hauben and Bo Goldman.
As an actor, however, one of Douglas’s most celebrated roles is that of the tycoon Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, which earned him an Oscar gong for Best Actor in 1987. He reprises the role in Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, which will premiere out of competition at this year’s Cannes.
In the context of the global financial crisis, the film, the prequel of which was emblematic of the 1980s business world, is arriving at an opportune moment. But most of us will have to wait, as it's not due for international release until September.