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Back in action
Michael Douglas returns in 'Sentinel'

Kathy Cano Murillo
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 20, 2006 12:00 AM

We haven't seen you in a while. What have you been up to?

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. 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.

How did The Sentinel lure you back?

During that break I was working as a producer. As this screenplay came together for The Sentinel . . . 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.

You play a decorated agent. Did you job-shadow?

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 (cellphone ring is heard in background).

Kathy, can you hang on one second? My wife is calling...

Douglas answers his phone, tells his wife he loves her and will call her back as soon as he finishes 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.

Even though you're a respected film star, will you share a flub moment? A time when you felt like a dork?

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 . . . 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."

For good and bad, how has the movie industry changed over the decades?

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 fewer 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.

What about those rumors of a third Romancing the Stone?

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.

What do you do when you aren't working or playing with the kids?

I'm a sports junkie. So when I have time to watch a sporting event, that's 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's the thing I have the most fun at. I'd have to say it takes up all of my hobby time.

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

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.

Enlarge Imageenlarge image
Suspected of plotting to assassinate the U.S. president, Secret Service agent Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas) finds himself on the run in The Sentinal.
Michael Douglas, 61

You know him from: The Streets of San Francisco TV series. His film work includes The China Syndrome, Romancing the Stone, Fatal Attraction, Black Rain, Wall Street, The War of the Roses, Basic Instinct, Falling Down, The American President, Wonder Boys and Traffic.

What he's hyping:
The Sentinel (opens Friday). He plays a high-ranking Secret Service agent who's accused of plotting to assassinate the president.

'The Sentinel'

What it's about: When a threat against the president's life is discovered, a decorated Secret Service agent is the top suspect.

Who's in it: Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, Kim Basinger, Eva Longoria.

Rated: PG-13.

Bonus: Douglas says he and Sutherland were shocked by Longoria's shooting skills. The three play Secret Service agents.

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