In “The War of the Roses” (1989), Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner play a once happily married couple named the Roses. The couple has grown bitter and frustrated over the years, eventually deciding to get a divorce and start dividing their belongings. Things quickly spiral out of control when Oliver Rose (Douglas) demands more from his wife, arguing that he paid for their house and everything in it.
The dark comedy follows the hilarious and ridiculous saga of a divorcing couple who are both determined to stay in their house. “The War of the Roses” is one of the most underrated black comedies from the 1980s. Douglas and Turner were both brilliant in their roles. The film continues to stand out for its delightful absurdity and dark humor.
One of Two People to Win Oscars for Best Picture and Best Actor
His role as corporate raider Gordon Gekko in Wall Street won him an Academy Award for Best Actor, and it is easy to see why. We know this wasn't his first Oscar win. Before Douglas became a Hollywood leading man, he won his first Academy Award as a producer for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in the 1970s.
The film won Best Picture, an award given to the producer. Douglas is one of only two people to have won both the Best Actor and Best Picture Oscars. The other is the legendary Sir Laurence Olivier, who achieved the feat in 1949 for his performance in "Hamlet."
He Took Time to Find His Bearings
Michael Douglas didn't feel truly in control of his acting career until the late 1980s when he starred in "Fatal Attraction" and "Wall Street." Before that, he struggled with nerves and couldn't say he enjoyed the acting process or felt like he was making a difference. He even likened his early camera presence to a patient sitting in a dentist's office. Practice made perfect – cliched but true.
Douglas became better at his craft through practice and hard work. He even got to play roles outside his repertoire. Douglas had primarily played heroic roles before getting the opportunity to play a more mischievous character in "Romancing the Stone," which he embraced as a chance to break away from his typical typecasting.
"Basic Instinct," a Risk That Paid Off
Michael Douglas had made a name for himself in the erotic thriller genre by the early 1990s, thanks in no small part to his iconic role in the widely-discussed film “Fatal Attraction.” Yet, when director Paul Verhoeven approached him to play the lead in his upcoming thriller “Basic Instinct,” Douglas had his reservations. He agreed to take on the role only if a big-name actress would star alongside him.
Douglas suggested names such as Julia Roberts and Kim Basinger for the controversial role - strong co-stars who could carry and share the risk. Since most A-list actors declined, the producers cast a relatively unknown Sharon Stone instead. The film became a massive hit and one of the biggest commercial successes of Douglas' career.
He Struggles With Addiction
In 1992, Michael Douglas sought help for substance and alcohol addiction, checking into rehab at the Sierra Tucson Centre in Arizona. It was the same year that “Basic Instinct” was released in theaters. His rehabilitation program lasted for 30 days, and Douglas has since been open about his struggles with addiction.
He recognized, in retrospect, that he had placed his career before his family, regretting not being there for them more. He admits that he used work to avoid confronting personal issues and wishes he had prioritized his family more. His eldest son, Cameron, has also struggled with addiction, which Michael feels some responsibility for.