Toronto Sun - Ready to Say a Word

Last Update: 30 September 2001

Source: Toronto Sun

28 September 2001

Ready to Say A Word



If nothing else, they proved a great equalizer. In the wake of events on Sept 11, it seems everyone -- window washer, hairdresser, business executive, journalist or movie star -- found it hard to return to the business of simply doing business. But eventually we all have, which explains why I am talking down the phoneline to Michael Douglas less than a week-and-a-half after our world began to teeter.

In the wake of a cancelled press junket to promote Douglas' latest movie -- a psychological thriller titled Don't Say A Word -- the sometimes-controversial star of such movies as The China Syndrome, Wall Street, The War Of The Roses, Fatal Attraction and Wonder Boys -- has taken to the ether to spend a bit of time chatting with journalists across North America about the movie and about life.

He wasn't eager to climb aboard the business-as-usual bandwagon, he admits: "But it's nice to get back on it. "We've been here in New York throughout the process and it's just nice to talk about something else," he insists. In fact, Douglas adds, when people like him start talking about something else, it will help all of us take our minds off this unfathomable tragedy -- or at least put it in some sort of context.

"We have to kind of get back (to where we were)," he says. "Sports and entertainment are the fabric of our culture and I think everybody needs to take their mind off this, occasionally. Our souls need a rest once in awhile."

For some of us, it is hard to reconcile the whole notion of resting one's soul in the context of an upsurge in the rentals of movies like Independence Day and Air Force One, but Douglas doesn't even hesitate when asked to explain it.

"Catharsis," he says. "I think we want that as much as we want resolution -- and I say we, because we certainly include the people of Canada and other countries."

Resolution, as Douglas sees it, isn't going to be anywhere as easy to come by.

"I'm glad to see that our government is beginning to preach that this is going to take a long time and it may not have the kind of movie second acts that we'd like," he reflects. "Movies and sporting events have an ending -- and this is open-ended."

And that's going to mean changes for all of us, he continues.

In fact, it already has, for him. Prior to its opening today, Don't Say A Word, shot in Toronto and New York, was quickly edited to remove shots of the late, lamented World Trade Center, although one long shot remains.

Douglas wasn't aware of the clipping, but he supports it in the knowledge that, at least for a time, pictures of the fallen buildings are going to shock people out of escape they are seeking.

"I would certainly understand that," he says. "We made a movie that takes place in New York, but absolutely, if there were any possibility (of creating unnecessary grief), you would certainly eliminate this."

But when Douglas talks about changes, he's talking change at a deeper level than simply excising a few shots, a couple of scenes.

"North America has been the most amazing area with these incredible borders and it's going to be affected," he explains. "That's sad when you've had the kind of close relationships we've had."

It's already started to affect Douglas' future, he reveals.

"I've gone from starting a picture in Canada in November (an action comedy with Billy Crystal about terrorists in the World Trade Center) to resurrecting a little picture that my father and I can do together.

"Actually, it's a three-generation picture," he continues, and you can practically see the smile on his face, "so my son can play my son. "That, to me, was more personally rewarding than anything else I could see on my professional plate."

As with many others, events in the last few weeks have focused Douglas on family -- in several ways. Family is one of the things that drew him to Don't Say A Word, which sees him cast as a loving husband and father, whose daughter in kidnapped by criminals.

"I look at it as a thriller, very taut and tight, with a redemptive ending," he says. "I personally enjoy playing (part of) a wholesome family unit, dealing with a nightmare situation, because it has a positive resolution. "It's nice to play a father figure."

It's even nicer to be one, he's discovered in the last while -- times two. "As a new father and husband, in that unit," he says in reference to his recent high-profile marriage to actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and their son, Dylan Michael. "But in the same breath, I have a 22-year-old son who lives here in New York and was on his roof, watching the first tower go down.

"It's brought my son, Cameron, and I very close together, because he can't conceive of this action. It's very, very hard for him to understand it, and I commiserate."


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