Turner Classic Movies
Douglas, Kirk - Interview
Written by Diana Saenger   

Best remembered as a slave trained to kill in Spartacus (1960), Kirk Douglas has made more than 90 films and has many notable performances in his long career. Douglas has made what he says is his last movie, Illusion. And at 90, who can blame him.

 illusion-postersm.jpgDouglas plays legendary film director Donald Baines. The director is dying, and as he sits alone in his private screening room he views many of the films that have occupied his life.


This story could almost be a mirror image of Douglas's real life. In my interview with Kirk and his son Michael a few years back for It Runs in the Family, they both admitted to being trapped in the whirl of building a Hollywood career. At one point in their early careers they were sucked into the infectious drive to succeed, which ultimately required endless hours away from their families.


Kirk Douglas
© Evolving Doors Productions

Speaking to me about Illusion, Douglas, through his stroke-affected voice, still has a note of gratification in his voice. Having pride was something Kirk Douglas did not inherit from his own dad. In his book, My Stoke of Luck, he stated, "I tried to find one pleasant memory with my father - Pa, who never gave me a pat on the back . . . I couldn't find a single one."

Douglas also identified with Illusion's theme after asking Michael one time if the was a good father. "Michael told me, after a long pause, 'Ultimately you were a great father.' But that pause bothered me, and it made me realize that maybe there was a period in my life when I was too wrapped up in making movies and that Michael missed something. So I wanted to make this picture."


In Illusion Donald now faces regrets about the many personal sacrifices he bartered for his career. He's only seen his illegitimate child, Christopher, once 30 years ago, and that pain is utmost among Donald's revelations.

One night Donald is awakened by the ghostly image of Stan, an editor dead more than 35 years, who transports Donald on his deathbed to an old movie house. Stan shows Donald three of the films he made, each vision representing a different period of Christopher's life. Donald sees the possibly for a reconnection with Christopher - unless everything that happened is just an illusion!

Michael Goorjian © Evolving Doors Productions

Director and co-writer Michael Goorjian got the idea for his film from Pierre Corneille's 17th century play L'Illusion Comique. "I thought that showing the episodes of the son's life could be done like short films within the film," Goorjian said who sent a script to Kirk Douglas.

"I didn't intend to do the part of Illusion because I had just finished a picture (It Runs in the Family) with my son Michael and my grandson Cameron. But when I read the script of Illusion I knew I had to do it. It was very appealing to me; it was a challenge."

Just as he handled the affects of his stroke with courage and determination, Douglas tackled the role of Donald. "The character is an old director, a very famous director who has spent his life in the world of make-believe," said Douglas. And he has a problem facing reality. And I was intrigued because I think that many people in my profession have the same problem. We're always playing another character. And sometimes it's difficult for us to find ourselves."

Working with Kirk at his home for the most part, Goorjian was excited to work with an actor of Douglas's significance. "Working with Kirk inspired me, in that you don't have to be young to still be excited about acting. He was just as excited as I was doing my first play."

Douglas, the author of nine books, spends his time these days writing. "I'm not a writer, I'm actor," he said. "But I like writing because I can play all the parts and there's no director to criticize you. So I play the parts in my mind and say, 'Kirk, that was terrific!'"

Illusion is playing in speciality markets , go to www.evolvingdoorsproductions.com  for more information

Photo credits: © Evolving Doors Productions




Do you watch more Classic DVDs than newer films on DVD?

alliance of women film journalists
© 2017 Classic Movie Guide
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU/GPL License.