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Michael Douglas Is Prepping for First Post-Cancer Role

Movie Talk

Michael Douglas Is Prepping for First Post-Cancer Role

Michael Douglas The Hollywood Reporter

In his first major interview since announcing his stage 4 throat cancer diagnosis, Michael Douglas tells the new issue

of The Hollywood Reporter he's already begun preparing for his next role.

Douglas will play the title part in Steven Soderbergh's Liberace, which starts shooting in May or June and will require special prosthetic work as well as musical training.

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"I've got a bunch of tapes of performances," Douglas -- who has to

sip frequently from a drink to ease the dryness in his mouth (but whose

distinctive voice is still as seductive as ever) tells THR. "I'm

thinking; I'm a blank slate. Everything shows me he was a lovely man; I

just want to reconfirm that."

PHOTOS: Michael Douglas among fathers who welcomed children late in life>>

He's also planning to take his family on a trip around the world.

"They're at a good age where they'd be old enough to understand it but

not be torn away from their peer group," he notes, then quips, "We just

have to make sure we have enough stuff to do so we don't kill each

other!"

Both projects, however, are secondary to restoring his health.

In January, Douglas will have a PET scan to learn whether his tumor

has been eliminated. The prognosis seems good: Doctors at New York's

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have told him there's an 80

percent cure rate -- something he and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones focus on, in contrast to the doom-laden tabloids.

VIDEO: See trailers from the movies earning Oscar buzz >>

"I don't read any of that stuff, regardless of what it says,"

Zeta-Jones says. "Where it does affect me, it's the fact that Michael is

sequestered in the apartment. But he really is on the upward curve

now."

Even so, the illness weighs on him.

He's received advice from everyone and everywhere. He's frank about

how "religion has certainly been shoved down my throat," though with a

Jewish father and a Church of England mother, he has no formal religion.

"I believe there is a spirit within us, which we nurture based upon our

efforts and what we bring to the world," he says. "But it doesn't come

from the outside; it comes from the inside."

As for how his illness has affected him, "I haven't really digested

it yet, truth be told," he says. "As I looked through the stats, I

didn't think of this as life and death; I just saw it as an illness to

get over. So I didn't dig into the bottom of my soul to see what I could

see." He smiles. "It certainly has put a little perspective on

mortality, obviously."

VIDEO: Watch Douglas' candid cancer discussion on 'Letterman'>>

"I've been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support," he

adds, choking up for the first time. "Cancer has shown me what family

is. It showed me a love that I never knew really existed."

See a clip from Michael Douglas' latest movie "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps":


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