Michael Douglas will be receiving the esteemed George Eastman Award tonight celebrating his extraordinary contributions to film as an actor and producer for nearly 50 years. Having won two Academy Awards as a producer for 1975’s Best Picture One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Best Actor in 1987’s Wall Street as the nefarious Gordon Gekko, Douglas’ films often pushed the envelope of controversial topics such as the dangers of nuclear power (The China Syndrome), sexual harassment (Disclosure), and illegal drug trafficking (Traffic), exerting himself as the face of the thinking-man’s thriller for a majority of his incredible career.
“I don’t know what you can say about an award that you share with Lillian Gish and Gary Cooper,” Douglas reflected in reference to the many artists who have been recipients of the George Eastman Award – a list the includes the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Gregory Peck, and James Stewart. “This is really a treat.”
Douglas achieved his first breakthrough in 1972 as Inspector Steve Keller in the television series The Streets of San Francisco opposite Karl Malden before transitioning into motion pictures, initially finding success as a producer for the aforementioned One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and The China Syndrome (1979) in which he costarred in alongside Jack Lemmon and Jane Fonda. In 1984, he headlined Robert Zemeckis‘ blockbuster Romancing the Stone, which he also produced, instantly attaining international stardom which he followed up with a string of successes including Fatal Attraction (1987), Wall Street (1987), The War of the Roses (1989), Basic Instinct (1992), and Falling Down (1993).
“My first obligation is to entertain,” Douglas states, “but if…I can do something that allows people to have a great couple of hours and have something to think about, so much the better.”
After starring in a succession of dark thrillers, Douglas took a different turn in the critically-acclaimed romantic comedy The American President (1995) after which he appeared in the introspective The Game (1997) and Wonder Boys (2000). In recent years, he won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Liberace in HBO’s Behind the Candelabra (2013).
In our coverage of the event, Michael Douglas speaks about the challenges of crossing over from television to film, his bout with cancer, and his excitement to play Hank Pym in this summer’s Ant-Man.