For actors, directors and creatives across the film industry, inspiration can come from the strangest places, particularly when you’re starting out in the industry. For Michael Douglas, star of Behind the Candelabra, Falling Down and Wall Street, his inspiration to enter the film industry came from the performance of his own father, Kirk Douglas in Lust for Life.
Directed by Vincente Minnelli and George Cukor, Lust for Life is a biopic of the tragic life of the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, starring Kirk Douglas as the iconic artist alongside actors Anthony Quinn and James Donald.
Michael Douglas discusses the impact of watching the film with Deadline where he notes: “I was probably 12, 1956, when I saw Lust for Life with my dad in it, my brother and I were in a theatre in Westport, Connecticut where we lived at the time, that was the year I really realised about acting and performances”.
Continuing, the actor notes, “Both Joel and I forgot that it was our dad, we just thought we saw this guy who was totally nuts called Vincent Van Gogh and I remember when he cut his ear off, Joel who was two years younger than me went ‘Wah!’ And started screaming and ran out ‘Dad’s cut his ear off!’’.
Concluding, Michael Douglas noted, “We were so immersed and I thought ‘wow, if he can do that, if dad can make us forget who he was’, that left a big impression on me without a doubt”.
Aside from the films of his fathers that clearly had a significant impact, Douglas also noted Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as a major source of inspiration in his youth. As the actor recalls, “I had a little pharmaceutical help whilst watching that screening and I think that combination of the special effects was certainly a mind-blower to me as to what visually you could see and how it could encompass you”.