Michael Douglas on working in front and behind camera for Franklin

Michael Douglas on working in front and behind camera for Franklin
  • PublishedApril 16, 2024

Hollywood actor stars in the new Apple TV+ series Franklin that is based on the eponymous figure’s time spent in France as America’s first diplomat

Michael Douglas has won Oscars for both acting and producing, but says he has become more selective about his acting roles in recent years.

The 79-year-old is a renowned figure in the film industry having produced and starred in a selection of award-winning films.

He has two Academy Awards to his name – Best Picture for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Best Actor for Wall Street – but says it is roles like Franklin that make him want to continue acting.

“At this point, acting, it’s if I just want to do it. If I find something really, really good, a good piece of material”.

He adds: “Producing, in some ways, I’m more comfortable with. You’re not required to be in front of a camera. And now, I guess, the thing I’m most happy about, I realise, with this show, is I’m more comfortable now handling both”.

“As an actor, my role is only like talking to you, I have blinders on. I have no idea what’s going on around me. Producing is having a 360 degree vision of everything that’s going on, and I guess I’ve been doing it long enough that I have that ability to cut my head off and act with a concentration and then be able to look around and see what the issues might be or how I can help.”The Apple TV+ show looks at the life of inventor, writer and America’s first diplomat Benjamin Franklin who spent time in France from 1776 to 1778 seeking the country’s support for American independence.

“He basically saved our country from the British,” says Douglas, who plays the title character.

“When I read Stacy Schiff’s book, A Great Improvisation, which this was based upon, I was fascinated because I don’t think many of us know what a Renaissance man he was.”

Douglas plays the character of Benjamin Franklin. Pic: Apple TV+
Image:Douglas plays Benjamin Franklin in the new series. Pic: Apple TV+

He adds: “Franklin was sort of the beginning of the middle class, because he came from a poor background and established the basis for that.”

By Douglas’s side for the series is Noah Jupe as William Temple Franklin.

The London 19-year-old has already worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, from Matt Damon and George Clooney in Suburbicon to Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson in Wonder.

“It definitely takes a while to get over the fact that you’re in a room with Michael Douglas or Emily Blunt or anyone really that you have respect for,” he told Sky News.

“It’s very trippy but, when you’re on set, you kind of just end up seeing them as a friend rather than as this icon.”

The Night Manager actor says growing up in the spotlight has had its perks – including learning an important skill from a certain Academy Award-winning actor.

“I did a movie called, Ford v Ferrari, and although in the show I didn’t have to drive, I remember Christian Bale, who was playing my dad, taught me how to drive.”

Driving isn’t the only skill he has learned over the years on set.

While filming A Quiet Place with Blunt and John Krasinski, he was taught sign language and now he’s adding a few more skills to his resume.

“In this one I got to learn horse riding, French and calligraphy for some reason. There’s just random skills that you pick up which is a great perk of my job.”

The first three episodes of “Franklin” are available to stream now on Apple TV+ with a new episode dropping every Friday.


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