In Conversation with Michael Douglas at the Cinematheque

In Conversation With Michael Douglas At The Cinematheque 1


The films of Michael Douglas define decades. Over 50 years as both actor and producer, he has played key roles in films that have taken their place in cinematic history, films that both reflected and impacted upon the time and place of their cultural milieu.

So it was with much admiration and anticipation that the Jerusalem Cinematheque hosted the Hollywood legend during his recent trip to Israel. At a special event on June 18, 2015, co-hosted by the Jerusalem Foundation, Douglas visited the Jerusalem Cinematheque to talk about his half-century in the world of cinema. The theater on this Thursday afternoon was completely full, yet the "conversation" had the feel of a personal tête-à-tête between the 70-year-old film legend and each member of the audience

In Conversation With Michael Douglas At The Cinematheque 2


The famed actor/producer was in Israel to receive the second annual Genesis Prize, awarded, in the words of Prize Foundation Chairman Stan Polovets, "for his professional achievements," as well as "for his passion for his Jewish heritage and the Jewish State." Indeed, Douglas began reminiscences of his 50-year film career by recounting to event moderator Benjamin Friedenberg memories of his first movie appearance – as an Israeli army driver. The 1965 film, Cast a Giant Shadow, starred his father Kirk Douglas and marked Michael's first trip to Israel. The experience, he recalled, "helped me understand more about this new country and about its roots.”


Douglas went on to describe some of his experiences "in the movies," producing 19 films and appearing in many more,  also expressing his views on the art of film-making and how this larger-than-life industry has changed over five decades. He described working with the "who's who" of Hollywood, including  directors Steven Soderbergh and Oliver Stone, and actors Karl Malden and Kathleen Turner. Douglas also answered questions from a pre-selected group of film students studying at the Musrara-Naggar School of Art and the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School, both Jerusalem film schools supported by the Jerusalem Foundation.


In honor of his visit, the Cinematheque held a June retrospective of films that showcase Michael Douglas's impressive career. Highlights included the multi-Oscar-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), the first film Douglas produced, which not only earned itself Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress but is credited for influencing the discourse on mental health care in the 1970s; The China Syndrome (1979), with its timely take on the issue of nuclear power; Traffic (2000), which also featured Douglas's wife, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones; and Wall Street (1987), the film that came to epitomize the 1980s culture of financial excess.  For his starring role as the "greed is good" anti-hero Gordon Gekko, Douglas was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1988.