• Festivals

Michael Douglas on His honorary Palme d’Or: “I have always had a strong relation to foreign countries”

Michael Douglas received the Honorary Palme d’Or at the opening ceremony of the 76th Cannes Film Festival. Later, he spoke to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association about his special relationship to foreign countries.

“I’ve always had a strong relation with the foreign countries for my work,” Michael Douglas said, highlighting his first award ever, the Bambi Award for Streets of San Francisco, in Germany. But Cannes, in France, has always had a special place in the American actor’s heart. “Here, in particular, two things come to mind. One, this is where my father met his wife, Anne, my stepmother. Anne was my stepmother for 63 years. I was very close to her and loved her very much. She and my mother were very close.”

Anne Douglas was a French publicist working in Cannes when Kirk Douglas met her. They married in 1954 and stayed together till his death in 2020. She passed away one year later, aged 102.

There is another happy note that comes to his mind: “I remember those stories going back to when I was 10, 11 years old, about the Cannes Festival. I actually came and visited a couple of times. So, that started it. Of all the different festivals I went to, Cannes is clearly in a class by itself.” He adds that he always felt welcome at the festival because the focus is on the love for filmmaking, not where you are from. “In a lot of film festivals there’s a little bit of an anti-American tone, or American films sort of overtake everything. Here they don’t have that. You feel joy. I find Cannes has always been friendly, supportive, and in good spirits.”


Memories from 44 years ago

Michael Douglas first hit the Croisette 44 years ago, when he attended the 32nd Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of China SyndromeJack Lemmon won the Palme d’Or for Best Actor. “That left a big impression,” he says about his costar, who played Jack Godell in the film opposite Jane Fonda. Douglas was also a producer of the film.


Thirteen years later he represented another movie, Paul Verhoeven’s erotic thriller Basic Instinct. That premiere caused a big reaction. “It was, like, whoa! I remember the screen was almost too big for what was going on. I remember the dinner afterwards was very quiet. Nobody quite knew what to say after that.”

With his honorary tribute, Douglas is joining a list of distinguished artists such as Forest Whitaker, Jodie Foster, Alain Delon, and Catherine Deneuve, who were all present at the festival’s opening ceremony.

“I feel, using a baseball term, I have a good batting average,” he said about the award and long career. “I can’t say they’re all home runs, and all that. But I have a lot of hits. If I were going to be a batter, I would be the third up. I picked my material pretty closely. Obviously, we have our failures, which you work on. I have movies that I love that nobody has seen. But, overall, I’m very proud.”

In 2013, Douglas was at the Cannes Film Festival with Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra, in which he plays the legendary singer and pianist Liberace. “There was some discussion, a little controversy, when I was here with Liberace a few years ago as to whether it could be official for a Best Actor Palme d’Or,” he said of his performance in the HBO film. “I don’t know how it is in some of your countries but, unfortunately, in the States film and television have always been kind of separate. Film looks down on television. As somebody who’s come out of television, I have a lot of respect for television. I realize the value of what you can make for the price – versus incredible amount of time and cost in films. Doesn’t necessarily equate. But so be it.”