Michael Douglas' Memorable Roles
Michael produced and starred in this thriller about a reporter and cameraman who discover a safety cover-up at a nuclear power plant. The part of cameraman Richard Adams was one of Michael's earliest movie roles, despite producing One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1975. The film also starred Jack Lemmon and Jane Fonda, both of whom earned Oscar® nominations for their performances.
Romancing the Stone (1984)
This action-adventure romantic comedy catapulted Michael to superstardom, along with his co-star Kathleen Turner. Michael plays an American bird exporter and soldier of fortune in Colombia, who's hired to help a New York romance novelist uncover the secrets behind her sister's kidnapping. Adventure—and, of course, a love affair—ensues. The film was such a huge box-office hit that Michael and Kathleen reprised their roles a year later in the sequel, The Jewel of the Nile.
Wall Street (1987)
Michael won an Oscar for his portrayal of greedy stockbroker Gordon Gekko in this hit dramatic film, which co-starred Charlie Sheen and Daryl Hannah. The character of Gordon Gekko eventually grew larger than the film itself, often referenced as the quintessential example of '80s excess. Director Oliver Stone also helmed the 2010 sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, in which Michael reprised his role opposite Shia LeBeouf, Josh Brolin and Carey Mulligan. The role earned Michael a Best Actor in a Supporting Role Golden Globe® nomination.
Credit this steamy blockbuster with striking fear into the hearts of married couples across America. Michael stars as Dan Gallagher, a married lawyer who risks it all for a passionate weekend with a seductive stranger named Alex, played by Glenn Close. But what Dan thought was a one-time fling turns into a harrowing roller coaster ride as Alex refuses to accept the end of the affair and slowly unleashes her psychotic rage on Dan and his family.
The War of the Roses (1989)
Michael teamed up with actress Kathleen Turner for the third time in this dark comedy about a wealthy couple in the midst of a bitter divorce. Danny DeVito, who also appeared in Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile, co-stars as the couple's divorce lawyer, who witnesses their outrageous battle to force each other out of their shared home. Both Michael and Kathleen were nominated for Golden Globes for their portrayal of the unhappily married couple.
Basic Instinct (1992)
This erotic thriller marks another iconic onscreen affair for Michael, this one between police detective Nick Curran and a manipulative crime writer suspected of murder. The iconic short white dress and dangling cigarette of his co-star Sharon Stone has become the stuff of pop culture legend. The role of wealthy crime writer Catherine Tramell may have made her a star, but the infamous interrogation scene made her a sex symbol.
The American President (1995)
The leader of the free world falls in love with a Washington lobbyist in this romantic comedy, which was ranked number 75 in the American Film Institute's list of America's Greatest Love Stories. Michael plays widower Andrew Shepherd, the current president seeking re-election, while Annette Bening is Sydney Ellen Wade, the environmental lobbyist hired to get Shepherd to sign important legislation into law. Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay and went on to write the White House television drama The West Wing four years later.
Michael takes on another Wall Street type, this time hedge fund manager Steven Taylor, in this thriller about Taylor's plot to kill his wife and inherit her fortune. Gwyneth Paltrow plays wife Emily, who is having an affair with David, a painter played by Viggo Mortensen. When Steven hires David, an ex-con, to murder his wife, he thinks he has hatched the perfect murder. But things don't go exactly according to plan.
Michael headlines an all-star cast in this critically acclaimed crime drama about drug trafficking between Mexico and the United States. Michael's co-stars include Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Quaid, Erika Christensen, Topher Grace and Salma Hayek. But perhaps his most significant co-star was then-girlfriend Catherine Zeta-Jones, whom he married shortly after the film was released. Michael portrays a conservative drug czar whose daughter becomes addicted to cocaine.
It Runs in the Family (2003)
Three generations of Douglases star in this film about a dysfunctional New York family and their attempts to reconcile their problems. Michael's real-life parents, Kirk and Diana Douglas, play his parents onscreen, while his son Cameron Douglas plays his eldest son.