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Friday, 17 November, 2000, 16:47 GMT
Michael Douglas: His own man
Michael Douglas
Michael Douglas has been able to step out from under his father's shadow
No-one has called actor Michael Douglas Kirk's son for a very long time.

Despite having a Hollywood icon as a father, Douglas has managed to step out from under the shadow of Kirk Douglas and establish himself as a actor and producer in his own right.

He is now one of Hollywood's elder statesmen but is not quite ready to slip into quiet retirement - his marriage to Catherine Zeta Jones will ensure he will capture a few more headlines yet.

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones: The world has watched their romance

Over the last 30 years he has managed to carve out a career and star status with the minimum of fuss.

The 56-year-old admits he has learnt a lot from his father, especially how to handle himself with the burdens fame can bring.

He has said: "The biggest advantage was that I got to see my father handle himself in public situations as a movie star. And I saw him with his fellow movie stars, acting like real people.

"That was a useful lesson."

He first tasted fame as the rookie detective in the America cop show The Streets of San Francisco in the 1970s.

But from an early stage he began to branch out within the profession and work as a producer as well as an actor.

At the age of 31 he pulled off a remarkable coup when he co-produced the Oscar-winning film adaptation, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.

It earned him an Oscar for Best Picture, and he later picked up a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in Wall Street.

His other notable production credits include Face/Off, Romancing the Stone, in which he also starred alongside Kathleen Turner and The China Syndrome.

Basic Instinct
Basic Instinct: Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas

He has stuck by his friends, most notably Danny DeVito.

The two men shared a flat in New York and have gone on to work with each other many times.

The height of his film fame was in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when he starred in a series of films which both reflected, and helped define, the age in which they were made.

He was the victim of the vengeful mistress in Fatal Attraction, and the money-obsessed broker Gordon Gecko in Wall Street, both realesed in 1997.

In 1992 he starred opposite Sharon Stone as the corruptible cop in Basic Instinct, and the following year he put in a great performance as the paranoid defence worker losing his way at the end of the Cold War in Falling Down.

More recently his film roles have been more low key. In his latest film he plays a failing professor and writer in Curtis Hanson's Wonderboys.

His private life has not been without problems. He is divorced from his first wife after a series of flings, which led to a claim he was addicted to sex.

His son, Cameron has been treated for substance abuse. and he admits he has made mistakes as a father.

He has spoken publicly of his hope that now, with the birth of his son Dylan, he can make up for lost time.

"I wasn't really there for Cameron.

"I was trying to forge a career and my parenting suffered. This time I can focus much more on my child."

He has had no problems with courting a woman who comes from a more straightforward background and has seemed at ease when visiting Catherine's family in Wales.

"I love Mumbles, it's just great, a lovely area," he said of Catherine's home town.

But of the Welsh weather, he remarked: "Brutal weather, just brutal."

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