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Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas — Second Chances

In love with wife Catherine Zeta-Jones, he's making the most of his good fortune.


For nearly a decade, the Douglases lived in Bermuda, where Michael's mother, Diana Dill Douglas, 87, has roots stretching back three centuries. There, Douglas took a laid-back career approach. He explains: "I made a conscious effort, with Catherine being younger in her career, to say, 'Do what you've got to do and I'll follow you.' "

 The family recently moved to their Central Park apartment, which Douglas has owned since the 1980s, so the kids could attend a New York City school that seemed a good fit. At the same time, Douglas was filming Wall Street 2 (Shia LaBeouf costars in the sequel) and did not have to commute for home visits. Shortly after their arrival, Zeta-Jones landed her latest gig, starring in the Broadway musical A Little Night Music. While she's working until after midnight and sleeping late each morning, Douglas is experiencing something of a Mr. Mom quality to his life, waking before 6:00 to help get the kids off to school. "I love to be the first face they see," he says. "It's a selfish pleasure. It's a very special time, the mornings."

Zeta-Jones says that Douglas thrives on his at-home role: "Michael tells me that [new fatherhood] keeps him agile. He's a terrific, extremely hands-on father."

 The same could not be said of him when he was a young father raising Cameron, his only child from his first marriage—a failing that Douglas freely admits. On reflection, he says, "I'll assume whatever responsibilities I have to. Would it have been better to have been around more? Absolutely. There were absences, and I was no angel."

While reveling in his role as a reborn family man, Douglas is reprising his original portrayal of corporate raider Gordon Gekko, a character who personified the arrogance of late-'80s Wall Street, and one that earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1988. That coup not only caused his stock in Holly-wood to spike; it had a profound personal impact. "It allowed me to feel like I had finally stepped out of the shadow of my father," Douglas admits. "It also identified me as a seductive villain. It's fun as an actor to be bad, because you get to do things on-screen that people would think about only in their darkest dreams."

Oliver Stone, who directed both Wall Street movies, is bemused by Douglas's penchant for playing charming villains. "Michael has the ability to simulate the toxic ingredients—a reptilian quality to his smile, his eyes—and bring coldness to a character like Gekko," Stone says. "He can shape his voice to be either villainous or entrancing. Some of his greatest roles have been as heels."

The point can't be argued. In 1998's A Perfect Murder (with Gwyneth Paltrow) he played a silky manipulator who masterminds a plot to kill his cheating wife. And who can forget him as the caddish husband in 1987's Fatal Attraction, the movie that put a terrifying spin on one-night stands?

But Douglas has also displayed remarkable range over the years. He's been a romantic lead—most notably opposite Annette Bening in 1995's American President. He has also played cop roles (1992's Basic Instinct) and comic leads (Wonder Boys in 2000). And his next scheduled starring role will shift him from cunning to kitsch, portraying Liberace, with Matt Damon as his young lover.

Douglas has been producing movies almost as long as he's been acting in them, beginning with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1975. By wearing two hats—actor and producer—he's enjoyed tremendous financial success and is reportedly worth $200 million. Still, he resisted cashing in on a Wall Street sequel for years, noting that once you've won the gold in Hollywood, the risk is that "it's all downhill from there." Then came Wall Street's meltdowns in 2008, and Douglas—a producer of Wall Street 2—decided the time was right to revisit Gordon Gekko.

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