By Heather Saltz
BU News Service
BOSTON — Academy Award winner Michael Douglas realized “acting is about lying. It’s about convincing somebody you’re telling them the truth,” he said at a ceremony recognizing his film and producing career, held in his honor on Wednesday night.
The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University and the Bette Davis Foundation presented Douglas with the Bette Davis Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes an individual whose career distinctly parallels the high professional standard set by Bette Davis.
The event began with an hors d’oeuvre reception, followed by a question and answer session where the actor candidly shared a glimpse into his life and career. There were about 300 attendees at the event, which took place at the George Sherman Union’s Metcalf Hall. Many of Douglas’ movie posters were on display for audience members to admire while waiting for the star to arrive.
Douglas, 74, is a well-respected American actor and producer who has had staying power in Hollywood for 50 years. His work ranges from his production role at the critically-acclaimed film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” to “Wall Street,” where he played a money hungry villain.
When choosing to play a role, Douglas said, “I read the script, which is the blueprint, and I think that’s a really good movie; it moves me and makes me laugh. I don’t worry about the part, I just want to be involved in a good movie.”
The attendees were of all ages, which showcases Douglas’s ability to appeal to different groups throughout his long-lasting career.
Boston University freshman, Christina Thorson, said: “I recently saw him in [Marvel’s] Ant-Man. It is interesting to see how he has kept up with the times and has gotten exposure to a new generation.”
Jeremy Hobson, a Boston University Alumni and Co-Host of NPR and WBUR’s show “Here and Now,” asked Douglas what drew him to his new show, currently on Netflix, called “The Kominsky Method.”
“[Netflix] is a streaming phenomenon,” Douglas said, “which is like Silicon Valley coming into Hollywood and has taken over in a very, very short period of time.”
It wasn’t always an easy path for Douglas. “My first shows weren’t very good,” he admitted. He recalled his father, actor Kirk Douglas, telling a young Michael he was worried about his carrier and that it might not be the right path.
However, Douglas said, “I was a grinder, and just kept at it.” He also wanted to stray from comparisons between himself and his already famous father and create his own identity. “Winning the Oscar was a big moment for me,” Douglas explained, “because I really felt I was outside the shadow of an extraordinary career and an extraordinary man.”
Douglas battled stage four oral cancer almost eight years ago. “The likelihood of having your tongue removed is not the best for an actor or anyone for that matter,” he said. He wasted no time after his recovery and stated he was very grateful for his role in “Behind the Candelabra.”
After the event, Hobson described Douglas as being natural and easy to talk to. “I couldn’t believe that I was sitting across the table from the guy whose voice is so recognizable and we’ve seen in so many different roles,” Hobson said. “And he said my name! It was crazy.”
A new exhibition at HGARC will display some of Douglas’s archives titled “Michael Douglas: Actor, Producer, Humanitarian.”