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Michael Douglas dishes on family and his new film

April 17, 2006

Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas, left) confronts David Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland), who suspects Garrison of plotting to assassinate the U.S. president in 'The Sentinel.' (AP Photo/20th Century Fox/Doane Gregory)
THE FILM
WHAT: 'The Sentinal.'
WHAT IT'S ABOUT:A decorated Secret Service agent is the top suspect when a threat against the president's life is uncovered.
WHO'S IN IT: Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, Kim Basinger and Eva Longoria.
RATING: PG-13.
BONUS: Douglas says he and Sutherland were shocked at Longoria's shooting skills. She plays an FBI agent in the film.

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By Kathy Cano-Murillo
Gannett News service

You know 61-year-old Michael Douglas from "The Streets of San Francisco" TV series. His body of film work includes "The China Syndrome," "Romancing the Stone," "Fatal Attraction," "Black Rain," "Wall Street," "The War of the Roses," "Basic Instinct," "Wonder Boys," "Traffic," and a long list of other films.

This weekend he's starring in "The Sentinel" (opening Friday). In it he plays a high-ranking Secret Service agent who is accused of leading an assassination plot on the president.

We chatted with him:

Question: We haven't seen you in a while, what have you been up to?

Answer: I've had a nice long sabbatical. I took three years off. I've been enjoying that time with my family and kids. Dylan, my boy, will be 6 in August, and Carys, my daughter, will be 3 this week (Thursday). It was a fabulous time. The bonding time I've spent with them has made it easier to leave now because they are very secure.

Q: How did "The Sentinel" lure you back?

A: During that break I was working as a producer. As this screenplay came together for "The Sentinel," I was happy with how it was coming together. I thought we could do a good action political thriller and at the same time explore and show, in detail, how the Secret Service works.

Q: You play a decorated agent. Did you take part in job shadowing?

A: Oh yeah. We spent a lot of time with them, so much that we are proud of the accuracy in the film. Several retired secret agents came on board to ... (T-Mobile ring tone is heard in background. Kathy, can you hang on one second? My wife is calling).

Douglas answers his cell and tells his wife he loves her, and will call her back as soon as he is finished with me.

OK, sorry about that. Where was I? We had three retired agents with us at all times. They helped put together all the details and the accuracy of how the motorcade works and how they scan the crowds. We also did a lot of weapons work using live ammo.

Q: Even though you are Michael Douglas, respected film star, will you share a flub moment? A second when you felt like a dork?

A: Laughs. Well, I think as action films go, you start to realize what your limitations are. My knee starts to blow up, or I'll pull a hamstring here or there. It all gets a little tougher. Kiefer (Sutherland) is in all these running sequences in the film. As it turns out, he was a high school records champion distance runner. Not only that, but it got a little intimidating for me in another running scene when Eva Longoria passed me by in her high heels. I tried to make it look like my character stopped because he was out of breath. People who've seen the film say, "Oh that looks so realistic!" Inside I'm like, "Oh yes, I'm glad you think so."

Q: What are some of the good and bad points of how the movie industry has changed throughout the decades?

A: It is much more of a business industry now. Back then there was more of an art equation in it. But now, as the studios have been absorbed by these huge media companies, there are less choices out there. It makes everything much more difficult. The good thing is that now there are more of these Miramax-type independent divisions at all the studios that let you do your labors of love.

Q: What about those rumors of a third "Romancing the Stone?"

A: I've been working on a script for a while called "Racing the Monsoon." It takes place in India and there is a good chance, if we get the script right, I can do it with Catherine (Zeta-Jones, his wife). I wouldn't play her love interest; I'd probably play the bad guy. I think that would be the way to do it.

Q: How do you spend your time when you aren't working or playing with the kids?

A: I'm a sports junkie. So when I have time to watch a sporting event, that is my special thing. I love dim sum and a really good bottle of red wine. However, golf is my addiction. I play it all the time trying to get better and it is the thing I have the most fun at. I'd have to say it takes up all of my hobby time.

Q: What is the best advice your dad (Kirk Douglas) ever gave you?

A: Give it your best effort and then forget about it. In other words, if you try your hardest, you never have to worry about how it will all turn out.

©The Times
April 17, 2006
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