LOS ANGELES – Michael Douglas is on an “upward curve” after cancer treatment, his wife said in remarks published Tuesday, while the veteran star said the experience gave him “a little perspective on mortality.”
Douglas, who was diagnosed with throat cancer in August and has been out of the public light while undergoing chemotherapy, said he is already preparing for his next movie, in which he is due to play flamboyant entertainer Liberace.
“The level of chemo, the amount they're giving you, combined with radiation, was the max they could do in that period of time,” he told The Hollywood Reporter industry daily, calling the treatment a “hellhole.”
“It's amazing that they almost have to try and kill you to bring you back,” he added, while the interviewer described Douglas as looking “surprisingly well, with his trademark thick hair all there on his head.”
Douglas, 66, only revealed his diagnosis when he returned to the United States from a family holiday. In September, he said he was in stage four cancer but with an 80 per cent chance of beating it.
Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, who married Douglas in 2000, voiced anger at the time that his chances of beating the cancer had been reduced because it was diagnosed relatively late.
In this latest interview, carried out in the couple's New York apartment, she said she didn't take any notice of tabloid newspaper reports suggesting her husband could be near death.
“I don't read any of that stuff, regardless of what it says,” she said. “Where it does affect me, it's the fact that Michael is sequestered in the apartment.
“But he really is on the upward curve now,” added the 41-year-old.
Asked how the disease had affected him, Douglas said: “I haven't really digested it yet, truth be told.”
“As I looked through the stats, I didn't think of this as life and death; I just saw it as an illness to get over. So I didn't dig into the bottom of my soul to see what I could see,” he added.
“It certainly has put a little perspective on mortality, obviously.”
Douglas's last film, the sequel to the 1987 box office hit “Wall Street,” came out in September. Douglas was filmed in “The Money Never Sleeps” before the cancer diagnosis.
He is already preparing for his next role: the title part in Steven Soderbergh's Liberace biopic, which begins shooting in May.
“I've got a bunch of tapes of performances” of the pianist and entertainer, said Douglas. “I'm thinking; I'm a blank slate. Everything shows me he was a lovely man; I just want to reconfirm that.”
Zeta-Jones added: “He's an extremely strong person, and I love that strength of character, coupled with the reality that he's sensitive, he's humble, he doesn't take himself too seriously,” she says.
“But predominantly, he's a very strong man. This has really helped through these last months. He has never lost that strength.”
Douglas voiced gratitude to his wife, saying she gave him the space he needed to deal with his illness — in October she travelled to China with their two young children, Dylan and Carys.
“I do think of myself as a bit of a loner, a bit of an independent. I'm one of those people who, when they're sick, like to curl up and remove myself. I don't like a lot of people around.
“There is nothing you can do to help. Catherine has been understanding, fortunately,” he added.
Channel News Asia