Michael Douglas: Keeping the Audience Reeling

The actor Michael Douglas graduated from University of California at Santa Barbara with a degree in Drama. The real work began after an impressive portfolio of film and television roles: The Streets of San Francisco, The China Syndrome, Romancing the Stone, Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, Black Rain, The American President, Wall Street, and The War of the Roses. He has played: detective, banker, lawyer, reporter; in both an acting capacity and as director. As if that wasn’t enough to qualify on your own merits, he is the son of famed Hollywood thespian, Kirk Douglas. But, success has no limits and Michael Douglas is proof that the territory of theater is his dominion. It is no surprise then that the University of St. Andrews in Scotland bestowed upon him an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in 2006. With a vibrant history of contribution to the arts, one must wonder–what was the allure that kept audiences flocking to the theaters and Hollywood studios beckoning with scripts? One avenue to explore could be the pressure the character has to deal with in front of the camera; crime, career, colleagues, addiction, moderation, or marriage. Who holds the key to a great performance: the scriptwriter, the actor, the circumstance, or the foil? In what way does Douglas figure against seasoned counterparts, gender-ethnic based peers, or immediate audience? Is it a matter of how willing and able the actor is to crossing boundaries (cultural, professional, geographical, personal, ideological) for the sake of the film industry, even if merely for the art? Consider this common thread of crossing material and metaphysical boundaries in the analysis.

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