“Why on earth would he do that?” viewers might ask.
Why would Michael Douglas, after the first gruelling week of combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy, submit himself to the added strain of appearing live on the Letterman show? No-one, after all, would have been surprised or disapproving if the Oscar-winning actor had said he’d rather stay at home and try to rest.
Yet as the interview progressed, Douglas gave the clear impression that he’s a distinctly courageous man who’s extremely professional and feels a responsibility to help promote his new movie, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, in case the combined cancer treatment makes it impossible to continue over the coming weeks.
Despite discussing the advanced stage of his throat cancer, Douglas remained calm and even joked with Letterman. When the interviewer commented on the disease and the therapy, Douglas replied that it was tough and painful and knocks you out but that the fact that he’d turned up to do the show just showed “how far I’ll go to promote a new movie!”
Again, when Letterman asked how he could be bearing up so well Douglas joked it was because “I’m on stage!”
Behind the kidding around though you got the feeling, listening to this admirable man talk, that he was there for several good reasons. One was no doubt to help make his new film a success. Michael Douglas, as much as any other actor and producer, knows that a lot rides on the success of a Hollywood movie. Not just reputations and awards, but livelihoods for hundreds of people involved in film making, are on the line with each new film premiered. Michael Douglas isn’t the sort of guy to let people down if he can help it. He did joke however that the treatment was going to screw up the next few weeks of promoting Money Never Sleeps. Having spoken to his doctors and realised the therapy’s going to hit him harder during September, he’d clearly decided to do what he could to help promote the film during the first week of treatment, before he becomes too debilitated. He referred to the fact that the radiation will give him burns, make it difficult to eat and to swallow, and that he’ll be in pain. No doubt the therapy will also affect his speech so by appearing in public in the first stages of treatment it will hopefully not be too long before the world sees and hears him getting back to good health.
You also got the feeling Douglas was there to let people know he’s coping pretty well with the cancer and the treatment at the moment. That is no doubt reassuring to his family and friends, quite apart from his film fans.
In one curious part of the interview he mentioned that Catherine Zeta-Jones and their children, son Dylan and daughter Carys, were in Bermuda. “They’re in the path of Hurricane Earl!” he said lightheartedly. According to some reports the actor’s family is apparently staying in Bermuda while Michael Douglas undergoes treatment. At first glance that seems odd. Surely he’d want his wife with him to support him? But then, since the children are very young – 7 and 10 – it may well be that he’s asked Zeta-Jones to keep them out of the way during these weeks to spare them the sight of daddy in pain.
It’s to be hoped that Douglas will beat the cancer soon with expert help from his doctors and with first-rate therapy. His father, Hollywood veteran Kirk Douglas, must be very worried – this year he’s seen his feckless grandson, Cameron, jailed for drug dealing and now his talented son, Michael, is ill.
Zeta-Jones must be very worried too. At 40, with two young children, she surely hopes her husband will be fit and well for years to come.
One person in Douglas’s life, unfortunately, seems to view the actor only as a cash machine and that’s Diandra Luker. Michael Douglas’s extremely wealthy gold-digging ex-wife has surely lost all self-respect and pride by going after her ex in court to get many of the millions that will be generated by his work with Oliver Stone on Money Never Sleeps. Luker has already got into her ex-husband’s earnings to the tune of more than 50 million dollars. Their marriage ended ten years ago. Yet still she wants millions more. Hopefully – rationally as well as morally – the court will rule that her husband’s earnings in 2010 have nothing whatever to do with her.
And hopefully Michael Douglas will be able to ignore her greed, concentrate his energies on recovery, beat his throat cancer and get well.