I've always been interested in Douglas' career and work as an artist, I also have been curious about the family overall after meeting his youngest brother Eric, who died tragically in 2004. I saw Eric in a play in West Hollywood where he eerily reminded me of his father, Kirk, dressed in a military uniform. He took a group of us to dinner afterward, anxious to find out what we really thought of his performance. While one would have thought that all he was looking for was praise, it quickly became obvious to me that he really wanted the truth. He came around to each person individually at the table, quietly asking for specifics on what we liked and what we thought could have been done better.
With undeniable magnetism, he looked each one of us in the eye, listening intently - obviously taking in and considering our comments. At the end of the evening, we all piled into his father's brown old school Mercedes which was in immaculate condition. Checking the glove compartment, he said "Let's see what daddy has to listen to!!" as he popped out an 8 track of Tony Bennett. The pedigree of Eric and how he was raised was more than evident, even as we raced down the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles at 2 a.m. It turned out to be an unforgettable evening.
I'd forgotten just how ground breaking some of the movies that Michael Douglas has been involved with actually were. I've always liked his work as an actor, but his work as a producer is even more impressive in some ways. The details in the book describe just how he managed to overcome being the son of an iconic actor - by being himself, true to who he is and following his own instincts.
While Michael Douglas' work has never risen to the level of critical appreciation as actors such as Pacino, Hoffman and DeNiro, he has still been acknowledged with multiple awards over the course of his career. More than many actors of his particular generation, Douglas has navigated the challenging landscape of the complex and vulnerable male, managing to create sympathetic characters who, despite their flaws, still appeal to audiences.
The book is a comprehensive and complete exploration of all of the phases of Douglas' life including his very earliest years, relationship with parents, rebel hippie years and the slow but steady connection to Hollywood, beginning as a stage assistant with his father and subsequent ascent to producer and actor. Additionally, his personal relationships with women are also addressed, in a strikingly honest way. Since Douglas himself probably signed off in some way on this book - his willingness to expose the details of his life in this way only speak to his dedication to his art. It is through books like this that up and coming actors and filmmakers can learn the most valuable lessons - about the life and business of being an artist.
Above all, Eliot is a great storyteller who has taken the life of an extraordinary, well known artist and provided a fascinating, multi-faceted perspective for readers.
Best known for films like Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction (and perhaps, in some quarters, for his marriage to actress Catherine Zeta-Jones), Michael Douglas has been doing movies since the late 1960s, though it wasn't until a TV role on The Streets of San Francisco that he really developed a following. This biography, for which he was not interviewed, portrays Douglas' rise to prominence, his relationship with Zeta-Jones, the father-son tensions between him and his father, Kirk Douglas, and his friendships with other stars.
Review in Next Reads Popular Culture newsletter November 2012 http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=568377
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