Michael Douglas says surviving cancer 'feels like a rebirth': 'You see priorities differently'

Taryn Ryder
Michael Douglas attends a screening of <i>The Kominsky Method</i> at AFI FEST 2018. (Photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images)
Michael Douglas attends a screening of The Kominsky Method at AFI FEST 2018. (Photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

It’s refreshing to see men in Hollywood tackle the issue of aging — something almost every actress over 40 is constantly asked about — and it’s a topic Michael Douglas doesn’t shy away from in a new interview.

The Oscar-winning actor turns 75 this year and he told U.K.’s the Mirror that getting older has made him look at what’s really important in life.

“The upside of aging is that you choose how you spend your time much more carefully,” he said. “Rather than just going with the flow, you wake up in the morning and you think about what you are going to do that week and how you are going to spend your time.”

Douglas has kept his sense of humor about it all too.

“Someone said to me, ‘Let’s play a game. I am going to give you the names of some pharmaceutical drugs and you tell me what they are for.’ It was kind of scary how many I knew,” he quipped.

However, the star of The Kominsky Method admitted he feels the effects of his age at work.

“Memory is tough. Memorizing lines takes longer and I don’t like that anxious feeling that you don’t have it locked in,” he said. But Douglas is just grateful he’s still working.

“Hey, I am 74 and in most jobs they kick you out at 65. So I love what I am doing and it keeps me going,” he said. “I can only play so much golf.”

When he’s not on set, Douglas is choosing to spend his time with family. In 2010, he was diagnosed with tongue cancer, something the acclaimed actor also credited with helping shape his later-in-life perspective.

“It feels like a rebirth after you go through cancer and come out of it. You see priorities differently,” he admitted. “You have a much deeper appreciation of marriage, of your children — you see everything a little bit clearer and a little brighter.”

Douglas has two children with wife Catherine Zeta-Jones, 49: daughter Carys, 15, and son Dylan, 18.

“The kids and Catherine always tease me because I am planning holidays three and six months ahead,” he said. “There’s much more planning your time because all of a sudden, you don’t have this infinite amount of time. Your time is finite now.”

Douglas has also enjoyed a renewed relationship with his oldest son Cameron, 40, whose substance abuse struggles have played out in the press over the years. Cameron was released from prison in 2016 after serving six years following a drug conviction.

“Cameron has had a difficult time and has had his share of adversities, but he’s doing great now,” the Ant-Man star revealed, adding that Dylan and Carys are “great students.”

“Dylan is off to college now and Carys has a big career ahead of her. She’s a wonderful singer, plays the piano and is very pretty,” he said. “I think you might be hearing from her sooner than you expected.”

Douglas continued, “I had to laugh the other day when she called — this is how sweet she is — and wanted to make sure it was OK to go on a date after school with a guy who is 17 and has a car. I said it was OK and she said, ‘I will catch the 6 o’clock bus home.’ That’s not bad. School gets out at 3:30 and she’s going to get the 6 o’clock bus home? God bless her. That’s how good she is.”

All of his children have caught the acting bug.

“My three kids, Cameron, Dylan and Carys, all want to be actors, as well as my niece Kelsey,” Douglas said. “So there are four Douglases in this next generation. So I think this sense of immortality and the continuity of ­generations going on is kind of special.”

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