While making the sequel, the actor came to realize that bulletproof bravado may still rule, but the financial sector of 1987 and today's gazillion-dollar global markets are worlds apart. "The monies we were talking about then—tens of millions of dollars—are a drop in the bucket compared to the hundreds of millions invested today," Douglas says. He took a major hit himself when the market tanked in late 2008, catching him off guard and leaving him wary of the capriciousness of Wall Street. "Look, capitalism is part of our system," he says, "but it's not for the faint of heart."
Re-creating life in Wall Street's fast lane required that Douglas rekindle a professional adrenaline rush, so it helped to have a wife who knows how the business works: "We have a deep understanding with each other rather than having to worry about fulfilling one another's expectations. She knows what it's like to come back at night wiped out. And it's all right to have silences."
And does his pulse still quicken the way it did in that darkened screening room watching Zorro? "Oh, yeah," he laughs. "At least in your head, your fire burns as brightly. Let's not kid ourselves. But God bless her that she likes older guys. And some wonderful enhancements have happened in the last few years—Viagra, Cialis—that can make us all feel younger."
Douglas stays fit and energized by hiking, diving, and taking family skiing trips near his Quebec farm. But he admits that age has its limitations, in particular when he goes to the gym. "It used to be you got that 30-minute cardio workout and that great sense of euphoria. Now you finish and go, 'Phew, I'm glad that's over.' " One problem this could pose down the road: "I wince when I think I'll be close to 75 when my daughter is 16. I'm not going to be able to physically chase the boys away!"
Luckily, that's not yet a problem. These days, the Douglases' social life often amounts to hanging out with the kids or catching up with friends at a local restaurant. "Catherine's a bit of a loner," notes Douglas. "I guess historically I have been, too." He adds: "You've got these few years of unequivocal love when Mom and Dad can do no wrong. So we're a tight family unit."
It's a different domestic scene from the one Douglas grew up in. His father, Kirk, according to Michael, didn't handle parenting well. "I was the product of a divorced family," he recalls. "My dad was always torn; he was working really hard and would want to see us. But then, with all his Kirk Douglas passion, he'd try to be a father for a week, a summer, whatever. It was tough.
"I think it's easier for me to be a good father. I'm not so concerned about my career," Douglas continues. "I like to be home a lot more now. I see the confidence my kids have got versus the struggle for confidence that I had or that Cameron might have dealt with."
Visiting Cameron at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on this bleak winter afternoon presented an opportunity for Douglas to work on strengthening his relationship with his elder son. He believes Cameron's incarceration may serve as the wake-up call he has needed. "Cameron has a lot of his life ahead," he says. "He now recognizes his own demons and struggles."
Douglas is all too familiar with these demons. "Alcohol was an issue in my life at one point," he says. "A brother died from an overdose a few years ago. Just about any family has someone for whom substance abuse is an issue."
Although Cameron could face ten years to life if convicted of the federal charge he faces—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine—Douglas remains hopeful: "He's a tough kid." Then, running a hand through his movie-star mane, he sighs and adds, "Still, he's in a federal prison, and you've got some big, bad boys down there."
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