NEW YORK – Michael Douglas' new movie Don't Say A Word is a thriller about a tension-filled day for a doctor and his family in New York. And yes, there are shots of the World Trade Center in the movie.
The timing of the new flick, at the very least, raises a question mark.
But on a recent day in midtown Manhattan, Douglas said that he's glad the Twin Towers can be seen in the movie. And he shared one personal moment of joy on a day when the rest of the world was just beginning to mourn.
Bill McCuddy: How you holding up?
Michael Douglas: Well, it's actually, you never like talking to people about your movie ... but given what's happened in the last two and a half weeks it's actually kind of a relief to think about something else. Takes your mind off of this tragic event.
Q: You think audiences are ready to go back to the movies and be entertained?
A: (Sighs) I don't know. I think we've all got a heavy heart. No one's going to get over this easy. But we need escape. We need releases. Everybody — in the last two and a half weeks — has had to get out of the house, or get some fresh air. And movies have always played an important part for escapism, to take us out of our daily life. So, yes, Don't Say A Word is a tough, scary, psychological thriller. And people could say 'Well, how can they do something like (that)?' or 'Why would they release it at this time?'
Q: And you would say?
A: It was the original release. And people feel that maybe there's a large audience that's ready for a rollercoaster ride — two hours of frights and going this way and that way. But there's a resolution in the end.
I think what's happening outside in our real world is we're seeing an open-ended situation; it's going to be a long time before we feel these guys, these terrorists, are going to get their comeuppance. And so movies allow you that sense of resolution. Of finality.
Q: It takes place in New York though, Michael, and it features some shots of the World Trade Center. Some producers have elected to take those scenes out of their current releases. Where do you come out on that?
A: Well, what I've heard (since I'm an actor in this film, I was not involved as a producer or director,) people that have seen the film, it has been reaffirming to them to see a movie about New York City, and to see it right out there again. It's a feeling of like, 'We're getting on with things, and starting up.'
There aren't many people who wince. But in a strange way, it's given them a reaffirmation that we're back up and running. Here's a good psychological thriller, New York City as a background and 'Let's go, we need it.'
Q: You have produced a lot of other films. What kinds of projects should Hollywood be making now?
A: Well, I think patriotism is running very, very strong, as well it should. Family values. I think everybody was much more appreciative of the families when we saw these personal tragedies and these unexplained losses. So I would like to think — it's gonna be pretty hard to top any pyrotechnical explosions in the tragedy we saw. It was the most incredible, painful thing in the world — so hopefully there will be more family value pictures. More patriotism.
Q: Where were you that morning?
A: I was here in New York City. I was in Manhattan the morning that it happened. We're doing okay. You know, it's been a painful, long process. We just tried to reach other members of our family outside of New York to let them know we were okay. And did what we can do, what everybody else can do, we all felt pretty helpless, as you watch this go down.
Our son (Dylan), who is 12 months old, decided to walk in the middle of all this, which was such a joy. We'll never forget that one morning. We were in the depths of all the personal stories — I thought the media and newspapers did an extraordinary job profiling a lot of these tragic people that were lost, you felt like you got to know them. It was painful. But it helped. And there was our son one day just stepped right up and started walking and gave us a joyful moment there.
Q: Are you grateful — in a way — that he doesn't know what's happening?
A: Sure. But I have another son who is 22 who has never dealt with a war in his lifetime, and this thing is pretty hard to explain to anyone. I think we all are having a tough time conceiving of the rationale of 'Where did this possibly come from?' Basically, destroying a culture. That's what they want to do us. Destroy our movies, our music, our economy, our way of life.
Q: You've played a president.
A: (smiling) Yes.
Q: How do you think our president is handling this situation?
A: Oh, I think he's done an extraordinary job. He's risen to the occasion. And I'm so happy to see that there's so much support behind him. This is going to be a long, long, road. And we're going to need movies along the way to take people's minds off of that. Or good concerts. Good television shows.
Q: What else can Hollywood do?
A: I think we should do what we do best. To try to continue. To make quality movies. Personally, we will make our donations. I saw that the National Association of Theater Owners last Tuesday, 26,000 theaters, contributed all of their box office and concession to The United Way and The Red Cross.
And we have always been an industry (that) when called upon — either for political contributions or events or for other worldwide famine events — we will always come to aid and assistance. And you have not seen the last telethon or event that our industry will be involved with. And I think as people who portray characters we are conscious, should be, of being humanitarians.
Q: Have you visited Ground Zero?
A: No, I have not.
Q: Do you have any desire to go down there?
A: I don't, really. I know everybody says it looks very different in person. Maybe I will at some time. But I have no longing desire to see a disaster site where so many people were murdered.
Don't Say A Word opens Friday, September 28.