There’s nothing Hollywood likes more than a comeback, and Michael Douglas, who beat stage-four throat cancer in 2011, is in the midst of one.
Douglas, 68, recently talked to New York magazine about his cancer battle.
“I knew something was wrong,” Douglas told the magazine. “My tooth was really sore, and I thought I had an infection. I had two rounds of appointments with ear-nose-and-throat doctors and periodontists. They each gave me antibiotics. And then more antibiotics, but I still had pain.”
After nearly a year, a Montreal doctor finally found something.
“That doctor told me to open my mouth, took a tongue depressor, and then he looked at me. I will always remember the look on his face. He said, ‘We need a biopsy,’” Douglas recalled.
“There was a walnut-size tumor at the base of my tongue that no other doctor had seen. Two days later, after the biopsy, the doctor called and said I had to come in. He told it me it was stage-four cancer. I said, ‘Stage four. Jesus.’ And that was that,” the Oscar-winning actor said.
Douglas went through an intensive, eight-week program of chemotherapy and radiation. The radiation burned the inside of his mouth, making it nearly impossible to eat, but Douglas decided against a feeding tube, subsisting on Matzo-ball soup and losing 45 pounds.
“Now it feels great to be back at work,” Douglas said. “Maybe that’s the benefit of taking a break with cancer: Then, people say, ‘What happened to him? Please come back.’”
Douglas is back with a new movie. He plays Liberace – and Matt Damon his live-in lover, Scott Thorson – in the HBO film “Behind the Candelabra.”
Filming was delayed after Douglas received his cancer diagnosis. But now the film – which Steven Soderbergh has said is the last that he will direct – will air on May 26.
“I was the girl on this movie! The hair and makeup for Liberace took two and a half hours,” Douglas told New York magazine.
He also discussed filming the love scenes with Damon.
Once you get that first kiss in, you are comfortable. Matt and I didn’t rehearse the love scenes. We said, ‘Well — we’ve read the script, haven’t we?’” Douglas said, laughing.
Douglas got serious when discussing his son, Cameron Douglas, who has long battled drug addiction. He is currently serving a nearly 10-year prison sentence after a judge nearly doubled his five-year prison term for narcotics distribution when the younger Douglas was caught with drugs in prison. An appeals court upheld the sentence last month.
“I have gone from being a very disappointed but loving father who felt his son got what was due him to realizing that Lady Justice’s blindfold is really slipping,” Douglas told the magazine. “I’m not defending Cameron as a drug dealer or drug addict, but I believe, because of his last name, he’s been made an example.”
“I could have strangled him,” Douglas added. “But years of shooting up heroin screws up your system.”