An actor with over forty years of experience in theatre, film, and television, Michael Douglas branched out into independent feature production in 1975 with the Academy Award-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Since then, as a producer and as an actor-producer, he has shown an uncanny knack for choosing projects that reflect changing trends and public concerns. Over the years, he has been involved in such controversial and politically influential motion pictures as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The China Syndrome and Traffic, and such popular films as Fatal Attraction and Romancing the Stone.
The son of Kirk and Diana Douglas, Michael was born in New Jersey. After receiving his B.A. degree in 1968 at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Douglas moved to New York City to continue his dramatic training, studying at the American Place Theatre and the Neighborhood Playhouse. A few months after he arrived in New York, Douglas got his first big break when he was cast in the CBS Playhouse production of The Experiment, which was televised nationwide in 1969. Douglas continued to work as an actor in film, television, and theater before being cast for the part of Karl Malden's sidekick in the police series The Streets of San Francisco in 1972. It became one of ABC's highest-rated prime-time programs in the mid-1970s. Douglas earned three successive Emmy Award nominations for his performance and he directed two episodes of the series.
During the annual breaks in the shooting schedule for The Streets of San Francisco, Douglas devoted most of his time to his film production company, Big Stick Productions, Ltd. His first production was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. A critical and commercial success, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress, and went on to gross more than $180 million at the box office.
Douglas suddenly found himself in demand as an independent producer. One of the many scripts submitted to him for consideration was Mike Gray's chilling account of the attempted cover-up of an accident at a nuclear power plant. A Michael Douglas-IPC Films co-production, The China Syndrome (1979) starred Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda, and Michael Douglas and received Academy Award nominations for Lemmon and Fonda, as well as for Best Screenplay. The National Board of Review named the film one of the best films of the year.
Despite his success as a producer, Douglas resumed his acting career in the late 1970s, starring in Coma (1978), It's My Turn (1981), and The Star Chamber (1983). Douglas also starred in Running (1979), and as Zach the dictatorial director/choreographer in Richard Attenborough's screen version A Chorus Line (1985).
Douglas' career as an actor/producer came together again in 1984 with the release Romancing the Stone. Romancing was a resounding hit and grossed more than $100 million at the box office. Douglas was named Producer of the Year in 1984 by the National Association of Theater Owners. Douglas returned in 1985 to star in the successful sequel, The Jewel of the Nile. In 1984 Douglas produced Starman, the sleeper hit of the Christmas season, which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for Jeff Bridges. In 1986 Douglas created a television series based on the film for ABC.
After a lengthy break from acting, Douglas returned to the screen in 1987 appearing in two of the year's biggest hits, Fatal Attraction and Oliver Stone's Wall Street, which earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor. Douglas next starred in Ridley Scott's thriller Black Rain and then The War of the Roses.
In 1988 Douglas formed Stonebridge Entertainment, Inc., which produced Flatliners and Radio Flyer. That year Douglas also starred in Shining Through, opposite Melanie Griffith. In 1992 he starred with Sharon Stone in the erotic thriller from Paul Verhoeven, Basic Instinct, one of the year's top grossing films.
Douglas gave one of his most powerful performances opposite Robert Duvall in Joel Schumacher's controversial drama Falling Down. That year he also produced the hit comedy Made in America starring Whoopi Goldberg, Ted Danson and Will Smith. In 1994/95 he starred in Disclosure, based on the best seller by Michael Crichton. In 1995 Douglas portrayed the title role in Rob Reiner’s romantic comedy The American President, and in 1997, starred in The Game directed by David Fincher.
Douglas formed Douglas/Reuther Productions with partner Steven Reuther in May 1994. The company, under the banner of Constellation Films, produced, The Ghost and the Darkness and John Grisham’s The Rainmaker, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Michael Douglas and Steve Reuther also produced John Woo’s action thriller Face/Off starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, which proved to be one of 1997’s major hits. In 1998, Michael Douglas formed a new production company, Furthur Films, based at Universal.
2000 was a milestone year for Douglas. Wonder Boys opened in February 2000 to much critical acclaim. Directed by Curtis Hanson and co-starring Toby Maguire, Frances McDormand, Robert Downey Jr. and Katie Holmes, Douglas starred in the film as troubled college professor Grady Tripp. Paramount released the film again in October of 2000 with hopes of Oscar nominations. Michael was nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Film award for his performance.
Traffic was released by USA Films on December 22, 2000 in New York and Los Angeles went nationwide in January 2001. Douglas played the role of Robert Wakefield. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and co-starring Don Cheadle, Benedico Del Toro, Amy Irving, Dennis Quaid and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Traffic was named Best Picture by New York Film Critics, won Best Ensemble Cast at the SAG Awards, won four Academy Awards (Best Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor for Benicio del Toro) and was recognized over on over 175 top ten lists.
In 2001, Douglas produced and played a role in USA Films’ outrageous comedy One Night at McCool’s, the first film by Douglas’ company Furthur Films. Also in 2001, Douglas starred in Don’t Say A Word for 20th Century Fox. In 2002, Douglas played a guest role on the hit NBC comedy Will & Grace, and received an Emmy Nomination for his performance.
Douglas starred in two films in 2003, It Runs in the Family, which Douglas produced and starred with his father Kirk Douglas, his mother Diana Douglas and his son Cameron Douglas, Rory Culkin and Bernadette Peters. He also starred in the Warner Bros. comedy The-In Laws.
In 2006, Douglas was seen with his father Kirk in the intimate HBO documentary A Father, A Son… Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Lee Grant, the documentary examines the professional and personal lives of both men, and the impacts they each made on the motion picture industry.
In 2006, Douglas produced and starred in The Sentinel for 20th Century Fox and the Universal Pictures comedy You, Me & Dupree. In 2007 he made King of California. Michael had two films released in early ’09, Beyond A Reasonable Doubt directed by Peter Hyams and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. In 2010, Douglas starred in Solitary Man directed by Brian Koppelman and David Levien. In Fall 2010, he starred in Wall Street 2 – Money Never Sleeps, reprising his Oscar winning role as Gordon Gekko. Again directed by Oliver Stone.
In 1998 Douglas was made a United Nations Messenger of Peace by Kofi Annan. His main concentrations are nuclear proliferation and the control of small arms. Michael Douglas was the AFI Lifetime Achievement recipient for 2009 as well as the Producers Guild Award. In Spring 2010 he received the New York Film Society’s Charlie Chaplin Award. Douglas has hosted 10 years of “Michael Douglas and Friends Celebrity Golf Event,” which has raised over $5 million for the Motion Picture and Television Fund. Douglas is very passionate about the organization, and each year he asks his fellow actors to come out and show that “we are an industry that takes care of own”.
Douglas is married to Catherine Zeta-Jones. The couple has one son, Dylan, and one daughter, Carys. Douglas also has one son, Cameron, from a previous marriage.