‘I like to play that role. The rebel. The guy fighting against society. The champion!’
Born Issur Danielovich into an immigrant family, he soon learned about poverty and hard work – not to mention ambition and determination, both crucial to his screen persona. Acting offered an escape, and Douglas obtained a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts; after serving in the US Navy during the war, he worked in radio and theatre. He attracted attention with his very first film and soon became a major Hollywood star. His work is notable for its sharp intelligence, emotional intensity and robust physicality; unafraid of playing unpleasant characters – he has some glorious schemers to his name – he eschewed sentimentality, trusting in the viewer’s readiness to simply be affected by good acting. Moreover, Douglas never took himself too seriously; even in his darker roles, he seems to be enjoying himself. A champion, indeed!