Michael Douglas: American actors today are too ‘sensitive’ and ‘asexual’

Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas gave an interview to The Independent to promote his role in Ant-Man. Yep, Douglas is a Marvel man now. If the studio is listening, he wants them to know he’s also open to an Avengers film. Just like every other actor in the universe.

Douglas piggybacks here on a recent Guardian interview with Dustin Hoffman, in which the actor said television is king now, and “film is the worst it ever has been.” Douglas sort of agrees, but he mainly uses this interview to lament the current state of the American actor. Dude is 70 years old, and he’s been acting for 50 of them. He’s seen a thing or two, and Douglas believes American actors are too busy “getting caught up in their image” to be masculine:

On manly actors: “There’s something going on with young American actors – both men and women – because the Brits and Australians are taking many of the best American roles from them. Clearly, it breaks down on two fronts. In Britain they take their training seriously while in the States we’re going through a sort of social media image conscious thing rather than formal training. Many actors are getting caught up in this image thing which is going on to affect their range. With the Aussies, particularly with the males it’s the masculinity. In the US we have this relatively asexual or unisex area with sensitive young men and we don’t have many Channing Tatums or Chris Pratts, while the Aussies do. It’s a phenomena.”

The problem with the internet age: “There’s a crisis in young American actors right now. Everyone’s much more image conscious than they are about actually playing the part.”

On Dustin Hoffman’s statement: “I understand what he’s saying, but I think you have to look at the delivery system. There’s a lot of good stuff being made in the cable area, good writing there. Kramer vs Kramer, those great mainline films he was in aren’t being made anymore [for cinema] but are in a different delivery system. Most of the great screen writers have gone into the cable area because that’s where they can also produce. The problem in making a film for cinema is the cost of distribution. People can scrape together money for a movie but not the advertising.”

[From The Independent]

I don’t think Douglas realizes how far a little bit of Chris Pratt goes, and there’s only room for one of them in Hollywood. But I see what he’s saying. Douglas has appeared in so many films, but he sticks out most (in my memory) as the virile adventurer in those Romancing the Stone movies. Back then, there was no such thing as social media. Images were crafted by studios and monthly magazines, not by the immediacy of selfies on the Internet.

Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas

Photos courtesy of WENN

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125 Responses to “Michael Douglas: American actors today are too ‘sensitive’ and ‘asexual’”

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  1. Lilacflowers says:

    Is it just me or should Michael Douglas steer clear about talking about other actors’s sexuality?

    American actors tend to come from two backgrounds. Either they start as children: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Natalie Portman, Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johannsson, Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, Leo DiCaprio and on and on and on or they were born into the business like Douglas himself.

    • Esmom says:

      It’s not just you. And my other thought was that having been born into the business, it’s kind of rich of him to complain about lack of “formal training” among younger actors. As if that’s all it took for him.

      • kori says:

        Even wi th his an backround he did spend time studying acting in nyc. He took bit parts until his breakthrough with Streets an of san Francisco. Then he acted intermittently as he focused om produing. It was Romancing the Stone which brought him back full time.

      • JenniferJustice says:

        So he did some formal training, but his path was still paved for him. His father was a mega-star in his generation and rich beyond our comprehension. Michael’s college was paid for by Daddy and Daddy had connections. I can’t hear how Michael made his own way because he did not.

        As for any talk on sexuality, Michael was a known cheater. I guess his thought process is that if you’re not boning every female willing to let you, you must be immasculine. Speak for yourself Michael. You’re only explaining your own subconscious motives. Freud would have a hay-day with you.

      • Emma - The JP Lover says:

        @Esmom, who wrote: “It’s not just you. And my other thought was that having been born into the business, it’s kind of rich of him to complain about lack of “formal training” among younger actors. As if that’s all it took for him.”

        Michael Douglas studied theater in college once he left his hippie life behind and got serious. Then he moved to New York and struggled just like hundreds of other actors and paid his dues. He and Danny DeVito were roommates in New York City while looking for acting jobs and waiting for their big breaks … and they have remained close friends through the years. Danny DeVito met Rhea Perlman during this time.

        Young actors today snub struggling for acting jobs in NYC in between acting lessons with noted experts. But that was sort of a rite of passage for young actors in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

    • Kiddo says:

      It’s just YOU. I long for more manly-man actors who blame oral cancer on their wives’ vaginas.
      That, to me, says Hetero-rrahhr-mucho-macho, not too much sensitivity.

      • KAI says:

        To be fair, he didn’t blame his wife. He said the doctors told him that his particular type of cancer is caused from a strain of HPV and that the throat cancers are due to oral sex.

        I think most people are aware that Michael Douglas was a bit of a womanizer throughout most of his adult life and he could have picked up the virus from any number of women.

        It also takes a number of years, apparently, to become cancerous, if it does so it’s even more likely that it was someone in his past. I, for one, didn’t think for one minute that he contracted it from CZJ.

      • Kiddo says:

        KAI, I was aware of the nuances on his statement, and I understand the pathology and transmission, and no one knows what brought on his cancer specifically, …still it was incredibly tactless.

      • Cleo says:

        OMG +1,000,000 LOL

      • Cleo says:

        To Kai, he knew exactly how it played – why he felt he had to ‘splain the possible origins, one can only surmise…I think he was passively aggressively attacking his wife… theyve been close to splitting, amd were separated around that time – but he knew how it would be received because the public DID think he was blaming CZJ.

      • KAI says:

        @Cleo You are making assumptions about someone I am quite sure you don’t know. What I remember is what he actually said and then how the tabloids ran with it. He NEVER blamed his wife.

    • Denisemich says:

      Hmm. I thought he hit a point regardless of whether it came from a privileged view.

      Now actors can’t seem to separate the character they are playing for the media from the character they are playing on screen. Isn’t George Clooney basically the same character in everything he plays and seemingly in real life. Isn’t Jennifer Aniston the same character in everything she plays and seemingly in real life.

      If you ever saw some of JLos early work, she was a good actor. I mean G. Clooney and her hate each other but those love scenes were HOT. Now, all her movies are crafted to match her image. It seems like she can’t act anymore.

      Longwinded but the point is. Branding has created product endorsement money and power for actors and in some cases overshot their actual careers.

      Michael Douglas seems to believe that if they had better training in acting they would be able to separate the character they have to play for the brand from the character they need to play on the screen.

      • Kiddo says:

        Horseradish. He just longs for a time when men were mens’ men. You can’t tell me that during his father’s career, he didn’t play EXACTLY the same role, over and over, and that branding as a masculine man didn’t play into it, with studios directly controlling the image and presentation to the masses.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        I agree. He hears men today saying they are feminists and he’s pissed because he can’t call us broads anymore.

      • Gretchen says:

        @Denisemich & Kiddo I agree with both points, he seems to have falsely equated the two though. I’m not one for the celebration of hyper-masculinity and I certainly don’t pine for that lost time when “men were men” (Sean Connery casually slapping women about in the early Bond films comes to mind) , but I do think that a number of actors spend too much time crafting their brand image rather than crafting actual talent.

      • Lilacflowers says:

        But there has always been such branding. Clark Gable. Cary Grant. Gene Kelly. Kirk Douglas. None of them lost themselves in the roles. Rock Hudson played the same role on and off screen.

        While Douglas may have some valid points about training, (and he did study acting) is he doing anything about it? He’s a powerful man. Is he going to endow acting scholarships or is he just going to whine that people should stop hiring the foreign guys?

      • Kiddo says:

        That has always been the case with actors, except that the studios used to do this for them. Now they have the autonomy to do it themselves, for their own direct benefit, rather than the studios receiving sponsorship. And maybe some of them are closer to the chosen personae in real life than what studios previously crafted for them. There have always been actors versus movie stars. The movie stars need more in the way of buzz, than do the real thespians.

      • denisemich says:

        But Celebrity was never 24/7 before. With the advent of social media things have changed.

        In the past, Actors were the brand for a movie and weren’t so scared to have an opinion. Now everything you say and post has longevity.

      • Gretchen says:

        True Lilacflowers, but as Kiddo pointed out that was when studios had much more control over their stars. Back in the 30’s – 50’s studios simply would not have made you a star if you weren’t willing to follow their branding to the letter. Actors still have to promote themselves today (especially if they want the big bucks) but there does seem to be more freedom as to what level of exposure and branding they can opt into, and plenty seem to revel in that aspect more than in honing their craft.

        And yes, although all the actors you mentioned had a “brand” so to say, they also spent a significant amount of time in their early careers on stage (with the exception of Rock Hudson), many working their way across America in local theatres before landing in LA.

        ETA: I think another important distinction is that roles are much more diverse now than they were then. There does seem to be a greater opportunity now for actors (men mainly) to play different parts and yet many would rather turn down controversial roles for fear it will damage their image than seizing the opportunity to diversify.

      • Cleo says:

        I think he just yearns for a time when HE was a ‘man’s man,’ and a hot leading man, because HE NEVER WAS.

        Ipso facto and as a result, American movie stars like Clooney, Pitt and DiCaprio he enjoys passive aggressively slamming. Not that he luuuvs fat Russell Crowe or Foppish Colin Firth, he just likes using them as tools to poke the American movie stars whose careers he NEVER had, even in his heyday.

        He was a TV actor, and he costarred in a couple good movies where he was not the lynchpin (China syndrome w/Jane Fonda) He was good at playing morally bankrupt types in films like Fatal Attraction and that other one – but most if the time, it centered around the women (Glenn close, Sharon stone) and they were the ones who stole the show.

        Face it, Douglas was never a Pitt or a Clooney or a Russell Crowe or a Jack Nicholson or a DiCaprio or even a Damon. He was barely an Affleck.

        When he makes these remarks I always inevitably feel he’s just lashing out at much younger American actors he envies.

        I haven’t forgotten the comment he made when Brad Pitt blew the world up getting with Angelina.

        Something about ‘why’s he divorcing Jennifer to go adopt orphans with Angelina.’ Nevermind that he didn’t even know them well, if at all, and it wasn’t his business. He managed to show himself as a douche (no surprise to anyone) and insult their children making it seem like adopting, and adopting orphans at that, was so not worth it.

        That was a POS move on his part that he TRIED to backpedal.

        I always thought his remarks stemmed from Brangelina totally eclipsing his may Dec relaysh with CZJ that no one cared about – perhaps he was miffed that no ine gave an ish, what his kids looked like and still don’t.

        He’s the type that would be bothered by that. Like..waaah..my wife is hot…my kids are cute…what about meeeee. Lol

        Maybe he can address why his other kid turned out to be a drug dealer and is doing time, instead of passive aggressively slamming American actors he’s jealous of. He has issues, and I feel bad for his eldest Cameron.

      • Lilacflowers says:

        @Clea, Michael Douglas has a Best Actor Oscar

    • BlueNailsBetty says:

      He has always pinged on my gaydar.

    • Lahdidahbaby says:

      Considering that he’s a guy who once claimed to have a “sex addiction,” I think the answer would be *Hell to the Yes.* Alternate answer: *Hell to the F**king Yes.*

  2. Julie says:

    who are those sensitive men though? maybe Gosling. the rest is mostly beefcake and i can’t even tell most of them apart. just a week ago i learned Captain America and that Pratt guy are diffferent human beings.
    the looks of the leading men havent changed drastically. its more muscle nowadays but they were, apart from a small period with Hofman, always tall and handsome. i guess back in the day it was focused more on talent, nowdays its mostly only about their sex appeal.

    • jinni says:

      Ha, at you thinking Evans and Pratt were the same person. I use to think Patrick Wilson and Pratt were the same person. Pratt has a very generic face which is why I don’t get the hype around his looks.

      But, yeah, I agree with you.

      Also, I don’t find the new batch of Brits that have come over here all that traditional masculine looking or acting. Most of them look frail. Besides every couple of years an influx of Brits and Aussie come over and the film industry is charmed by them but most don’t last, especially the Brits (at last it did seem to work out so well for the last batch they sent over in the mid-late 2000’s). Americans seem to like the Aussies better, probably because they have a stereotype of being a little rough around the edges which Americans seem to like more.

      • Julie says:

        ah good point i forgot about Eddie Redmayne or Andrew Garfield but yes they are certainly the sensitive fragile kind of guy.

        their roles called for it though, Spiderman in “real life” is not a beefcake.

      • Timbuktu says:

        Which Brits didn’t do well from mid-late 2000-s?

        we also have Hugh Grant and that dude who was in “About time”. But I feel like Brits have never banked on pure looks, it’s always about being quirky and deprecatingly funny. And it works, on me, at least.

      • jinni says:

        Timbuktu: Clive Owen for one. He was supposed to be big in the states and did bunch of movies, but never really took off.

      • Timbuktu says:

        I don’t know, I feel like he was a big deal for a while, not sure many Americans keep their sex symbol status for much longer.
        Anyone else?

      • Kitten says:

        Hardy is pretty damn masculine-looking.

      • Camille (the Original) says:

        And Fassbender…

      • Paul Ó Duḃṫaiġ says:

        Fassbender ain’t a Brit though.

    • BangersandMash says:

      I’m just here to send a shout out to that super hot guy fresh out of an oven in Sydney.

      Joel Edgerton, you get every damn role you can get. Straight up snatch them you masculine, sexy, thunder from down-under!!!

      Ok. That’s all!!!

      • Palar says:

        Love that you think he’s fresh out of the oven, he’s been very well known to us Aussies for over 15 years! Glad that he’s now getting success in the US as he’s a hugely talented guy.

      • Anne says:

        Oh, I love this. hehe.

    • maybeiamcrazy says:

      I always thought it was the opposite of what he is saying. American actors want to be buff and manly. They are better looking than their British counterparts but Brits are more intriguing. I don’t think American actors are more sensitive than British actors. It is just American actors tend to be very similar. I agree with you, there are shit loads of Chrises and i can’t tell them apart. That is the biggest problem of American actors, they are more of a movie star than character actor. I would rather watch James Mcavoy or Eddie Redmayne. I don’t know what the reason is, there are many great American actors, maybe they should weigh on this issue rather than Michael Douglas.

      • Cleo says:

        I like, okay love, Cillian Murphy and Daniel Day Lewis. But it’s not because they’re ‘manly,’- they can play that, for sure…but it’s their sensitivity more than being walking testes.

        That’s about it. Can’t think of any others.

        No one can tell me Pitt and Norton in Fight club could have been replaced by Cumby and Firth or the hemsworth lugs. Just stop.

        I’ll give him Russell Crowe, about 75lbs ago..no one could touch him – Gladiator – who else could have played that…..and if he didn’t have a personality from hell, he’d be working more today, fat or not.

      • Anne says:

        me too. but perhaps I’m not paying close enough attention.

  3. Aussie girl says:

    There is no disputing that America is where the movie scene is at. Is it so terrible that a Brit, Aussie or any nationality takes a role..? I realise that it’s ideal because who wouldn’t want jobs to go to people in their own country. But America is the place where actors go to get that big break and the stories ( movies) told are not all American. Idk I just don’t see the big deal & think that it should be viewed as been super proud that actors strive towards their big break in America .

    • BangersandMash says:


      But I understand where Michael is going. Previous batman was a Brit and fought against another Brit in the dark knight.

      “Masculinity” whatever you want to call it or define it in modern day cinema terms is geniunely being taken over by the Tom Hardys, Idris Elbas and Chris Hemsworths or Joel Edgertons (I love you Joel!!! Get all those roles) while the Leo Dicaprios and the James Francos are going for the less physical stuff.

      I suppose it’s a redefinition of masculinity. The kinda (for lack of better word) “man’s-man” manliness is open to men from other countries to pursue. It’s a wonderful thing.

    • MildredFierce says:

      The problem is the Aussies and the Brits don’t return the favor. They don’t hire Americans – I can’t think of one BBC show or any show that has state funding to hire Americans.

      So in essences the Aussies and Brits take advantage for both industries. Americans only have Hollywood and yes it thrives because of good ol’ Merican Capitalism.

      • skedaddle says:


        what? Just off the top of my head, I can think of two Americans starring in British TV:

        Gillian Anderson is the star of the one of the highest regarded BBC shows, the Fall, and she’s American.

        I’ve been watching Humans on Channel 4, and William Hurt stars on that, also America.

      • boberta says:

        What about Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Honourable Woman? Andy Samberg and Taylor Lautner’s stints on Cuckoo? Robert Vaughan in Hustle? Jeremy Piven in Mr Selfridge? The various TV productions David Soul has done, like Holby City and Inspector Lewis? What about Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth McGovern and Shirley Maclaine in Downton Abbey? I’m fairly certain Richard Gere was in The Second Best Exotic Marigold hotel, too, and these are just the ones I can think of as I sit here. Plenty of American actors, incl. big names like Kim Cattrall and Jake Gyllenhaal, can be found working in the West End as well…
        Maybe the numbers don’t equal those of Brits getting roles in the US, but our industry is smaller and structured differently, and Hollywood has been an international “Mecca” for the film industry for close to a century. Hollywood is where you go if you want to be a movie star and I can’t help but feel that for a lot of American actors their desire to be an actor has as much to do with being A-List as it does with actually acting. Working outside of the US industry is less likely to see them get to where they want to be whereas in Hollywood it can perhaps seem a more achievable dream. Even over here you’re not seen as having truly “made it” until you’re jetting off to LA; after all, isn’t the US meant to be the land of opportunity? Our film industry might be out of it’s “dark/crappy” period and Australia’s is certainly making huge leaps and bounds in terms of output quality, but Hollywood is still where the studios and money is. It only seems logical that an actor from the UK or Australia is going to try their luck there as much as an actor from Chicago or Nebraska or California would. Whether they succeed or not is down to their talent, attitude and training. I’d say ten times as many Brits fail to make it in Hollywood compared to those who do manage to get a role in something.

  4. Sixer says:

    Isn’t it mostly because film and TV are global industries now? You can’t have the bulk of the global market share in an industry AND be parochial any more (ask anyone working in finance in London – they’ll say the same). It’s as simple as that. I mean perhaps the US industry needs to think about stopping producing so many cookie cutter actors who promote themselves as products rather than actors with diverse portfolios in this environment, but it’s the environment that counts.

    I really don’t think calling all male American actors sissy boys (in so many words) is going to help matters, Michael, you ridiculous old homophobe.

    • Liz says:

      Also Brit and Aussie guys who have had success in this age group would of been paid far less them American actors with similar resumes so someone like Marvel can offer them a contract for many films on a much lower pay scale.

    • Lilacflowers says:

      That’s a very large part of it now. They market everywhere and the industry is going to pull actors from everywhere as a result but as I said above, many of the American actors getting steady work today started as children or, like Douglas himself, are from families with strong ties to the industry.

      • Sixer says:

        Lilac – that’s kinda your version of our “only the poshies can afford RADA” problem, isn’t it? You’ve got the intra-industry preferential stuff, ours is extra-industry, as it were.

        I do think other factors are at play, of course. Even so, the main thing for actors of all nationalities now is to learn how to compete in a globally-selling environment. I guess aiming at being the actor who will be acceptable to US advertisers in breaks on US network TV shows isn’t the best tactic any more?

      • Lilacflowers says:

        Yes, Sixer, exactly. We are a huge and wealthy country but few kids have access to arts education. Art and music tend to be the first items cut in school budgets and teaching to the test in English class doesn’t allow for much exploration of the dramatic arts. Football teams get saved while the school drama clubs get eliminated. Regional theaters are few and far between in large sections of the country so that training ground doesn’t really exist here. Many actors like Julianne Moore and Kevin Bacon trained in soap operas but those are now gone. While commercials were the training ground for Travolta and even Brad Pitt.

    • LAK says:

      Sixer: the product thing is what he is talking about. social media image thing is about positioning yourself to sell product. The emphasis on brand vs acting.

      The American actors want to be brands irrespective of acting chops. That’s why being a superhero is important to them vs a Brit or Aussie doing shakespeare (yes I know also a brand, but emphasis on acting). And the superhero genre had to prove itself before american actors finally jumped on the bandwagon. Most superhero/action films were populated with foreign actors going back to the dawn of cinema.

      To be fair, his comments are nothing new. There is also the ongoing decades long refusal of american actors to take baddie roles because it affects their brand/american audiences. They always want to play the hero/anti-hero. Ditto roles the require being ugly if no chance for an oscar. It left those roles open to foreign actors, particularly the Brits.

      The american actors who genuinely want to act seem to be in theatre and in indies (or studio indies) and refuse to play the branding game – Joaquin Phoenix. I’m impressed Bradley Cooper is treading the boards. It shows he wants to be an actor with range, not just a product.

      As for him making these comments, people forget that MD started out as a producer before he became as actor. He continues to produce even if he isn’t in front of the camera, so his comments are borne from experience.

      • Hannah says:

        Not a big fan of Bradley copper but it shouldn’t be surprising as he is every bit as educated and trained as his British counterparts. Cooper has an academic degree (Georgetown university) And trained at the actors studio, the new school, After that.

      • Lilacflowers says:

        Yes, he has been a producer for much of his career but acting in Streets of San Francisco came before producing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

      • Sixer says:

        LAK – fair enough. See what I said to Lilac above.

        Funnily enough, the actual *product* of this industry that I’m interested in is really the parochial one. I don’t care much for all the international blockbuster stuff. So I enjoy Nordic noir, for example, because it’s telling stories from a parochial (in this case Scandinavian) point of view. The TV show I’ve enjoyed most of late was Netflix’s Bloodline, which I’d see as a piece of quintessential American storytelling (and yes, I know one of the leads was an Aussie).

        So in that sense, I do agree. I think if American actors stopped aiming at being global box office/TV advertiser acceptable products and thought more about establishing varied portfolios, they would be in a better position to get more of the plum roles. Counter-intuitively, this would probably include the blockbuster roles, because the industry is changing and the American acting profession doesn’t seem to have caught up quickly enough to the changes.

      • Anne tommy says:

        I saw Bradley in The Elephant Man in London last Saturday, from the front row, great performance.

  5. Liz says:

    He’s just repeating a Theory that came from THR (I think?) a few years ago. Which broke down to that casting directors where finding it hard to cast roles for action films/comic book style beefcake roles because young 20-30 male American actors tended to be a slighter more delicate looking.

    The two possible causes I’ve seen mentioned is in other English speaking countries boys are encouraged at school to be both sporty and do Drama and in America you tend to do one or the other at high school. I’m not American so don’t know if that’s true or that young actors that have had success before like child actors or teens tend to be more cute looking.

    • Esmom says:

      Good point about American students choosing either sports or fine arts but generally not both. That’s very true. There are exceptions (one of my sons is one of them), of course, but most jocks steer clear of the drama kids and vice versa.

      • Lilacflowers says:

        American schools also tend to fund sports programs but not arts programs.

    • Julie says:

      but the typical english actors are not very sporty or build. And Liam and older Hemsworth are not drama students thats for sure lol.

  6. Hannah says:

    hes right about English actors, most British actors are classically trained, they spent years in a conservatory and many have been doing theatre before they arrived in Hollywood. There are American actors who take their craft seriously, but I think at the time Hoffman and Douglas were big American actors really defined the medium with inventive original performances. Not so anymore. I am sure there are American actors who are as masculine as the helmsworth brothers and Russell Crowe however there seems to be a preference for more effeminate pretty boys in cinema right now. Nothing wrong with that but you don’t have the variriety of leading men that where present in cinema in the golden age of Hollywood ( the 70s). In those old movies you see leading men like Hoffman, pachino, Hackman. These actors would not be considered pretty enough to be leading men in this day and age.

    • Lilacflowers says:

      Hoffman and Pacino also wouldn’t fit Douglas’s view of being manly men.

      • Hannah says:

        I read the interview over at another site he didn’t just talk about manly men. He talked about the importance of acting training too. It was a little more nuanced that what come across in this post.

      • Julie says:

        he personally also never came across as a manly man to me.

  7. Neelyo says:

    Personally, I think what Douglas is trying to say applies to the new crop of Brit actors. I know I better duck but I find Hiddleston, Redmayne and Cumberbatch very ‘sensitve’ and ‘asexual’.

    • jen2 says:

      I’ll get under the table with you. I would add, and I love them to pieces–Fassbender and McAvoy (both of whom I would call “sexy”). All of these guys would most likely get blown away in a strong wind. Good actors, and good looking, but old school “masculine”, (I am thinking Gregory Peck masculine–tall, deep voice, gorgeous), probably not.

    • serena says:

      All that^. Golden.

      Redmayne, Hiddleston and Cumberbatch are some of the most disturbingly sterile, asexual and gender-neutral celebrities and men I have seen in a long time. They are not effeminate, because even with effeminate men, you can pinpoint and actualize some sense of sexual identity.

      I personally find the likes of Tom Cruise and Mariah Carey extremely asexual. Meaning no matter how hard they train at the gym in Tom’s case to perfect his body or how consistently they wear slutty outfits in Mariah’s case (topped with the over-the-top feminine drag queen persona), these two will always come off as asexual to me.

      • p'enny says:

        do you guys know what asexual means? it mean someone has no interest by genetics, not choice, in sex at all.

        Considering two of them are married, i think they are not.

    • Hannah says:

      True but isn’t he saying about the Brits that they are better trained. I don’t see him pinpointing Brits as masculine ( although there are British actors such as Elba, hardy and Craig that are more traditionally masculine) I feel like he’s saying British actors beat American actors at the art of pure acting whereas the current crop of Australian actors have that more typical masculine quality that we used to associate with American actors.

    • Sixer says:

      Britain is small. It’s a lot easier here to establish a varied portfolio – you can be based in London and only need to travel a couple of hours to appear in high quality regional theatre, for example.

      • Hannah says:

        I dont buy that it’s about size. In the golden era of American actors they were classically trained too. If you look at the great actors of modern American cinema the majority came through the actors studio or Julliard or some kind of conservatoire. And you’d find that a vast majority worked in the theatre before they made it in Hollywood. The training and pursuit of the craft most definetly plays a part. It’s like any profession you become good by taking it seriously as an art form.

  8. Naddie says:

    I think it’s a social tendency, the concept of gender is changing. Nowadays we don’t have the “masculine” or “feminine” type like decades ago, at least not so defined. But I agree with him and Julie, talent is not the main focus, unfortunately. Anyway, he knows better than me, I’m sure.

  9. Mia4S says:

    Come on Michael, America still has three out of four Chrises! (Pratt, Evans, and Pine…then one Aussie Hemsworth).

    Seriously though I think what casting directors like is the training. It’s not like the bottom reality-show level tier is being brought over.

  10. serena says:

    No new actor coming to Hollywood – white, black or Latino – should go by the name ‘Chris’ anymore. Not one. Especially if they are tall, all-American looking and white.

    – Use your middle name.
    – Come up with a stage name.
    – Use your father’s name.
    – Use Christian or Christopher – if you MUST. (I’d say use ‘Topher’ but that is a very silly name imo.)


    These ‘Chrises’ are everywhere: they all look the same and none of them are anything that special in the talents or looks department.


    • Neelyo says:

      In the Aughts it seemed like there was a new Jessica every year. Simpson, Alba, Biel… each more untalented than the last.

  11. serena says:

    I know I’ll get hated on for saying this. but I agree w/ Michael.

    Today male celebs are all ‘Ellen’-ized. They all go to Ellen, show off their well-sculpted torsos, and talk about their children and wives. Being a father or a doting boyfriend/fiance/husband – as a concept – has overtaken the male moviestar persona.

    The days of old when Hollywood stars were perceived as drunk, over-sexed, scandalous and mysterious type of creatures, things were different. people did not ahve smart phones to record everything. The likes of Liz Taylor or Jack Nicholson could not have sustained themselves today. People online would hate on them for being sexually promiscuous, lascivious and materialistic. And studios would drop them.

    All American actors – male and female – are too sterile and asexual now, because they are afraid of being judged and perceived as a ‘menace to society’ by coming off as misogynistic, racist, sexist or too self-involved. Studios do not approve that. That is why they never talk about anything substantial in their mag interviews nowadays.

    It is all about their kids, wives or how hard they trained to perfect their muscles.

    • Anname says:

      I agree Serena – we know too much about their real lives, so the mystery is completely gone. Even those who attempt to not sell their personal lives get papped and twittered about and sneaky fanpics pop up online all the time.

    • Keaton says:

      I agree with this. Asexual. Safe. Bland. Kinda boring.
      That’s how I’d describe the current crop of young American male actors.
      And like MIchael Douglas points out – at least the Brits have training. Many of them maybe asexual too but they can act! Most of the young American male actors really can’t.

    • Naddie says:

      No hate at all, but I see a very negative effect on the old days. The celebrities were somewhat “untouchable” and this creates an illusion about the human being they actually are. It just might backfire, I take Rita Hayworth as an example. Also, it’s good that these famous people are watching their back more, since they’re overpayed and not above criticism. Anyone should be called out for being sexist, racist or misogynistic.
      However, I can also see a negative side on nowadays too, with the over exposure and the consequent lack of authenticity in their interviews.

      • serena says:

        I agree wholeheartedly about the benefits of this newly-utilized transparency we get to enjoy, because I too do not wish to support the careers of performers who are simply terrible people.

        Bye Cosby! Bye Mel! Bye Sean Penn! Bye Cruise!

        But why do they all have to be so monotonous and sterile ALL THE TIME??? So eager to become a part of the norm?

        We love seeing famous women naked in mags for instance. We think it is either sexy or empowering. But men? No no no… They will never do a naked/half-nude shoot just for a fashion magazine! It is unthinkable. Their wholesome/manly image would be shattered. Or they would be laughed at, because self-possessed men don’t do nudity! They are not vain like that! They are vain in other ways – like romancing 22 year old girls when you are 52. That is acceptable sort of vanity that make men still look manly and somehow bland and run-of-the-mill simultaneously.

        It is a bore and imbecilic imo.

      • Naddie says:

        I guess in the end of it all, it’s a choice between bad and evil. It’s not good like it is now, I agree, but old Hollywood wasn’t as well. We get rid of one trap to fall into another one.

    • Christin says:

      I also think we are in an information overload sort of society, with social media and daily access to new information.

      These newer actors are familiar to me by name only, because no one has the time to read every word or see every photo of all these current celebrities.

      At least with weekly or monthly publications of years past, it was easier to digest the who’s who of entertainment.

      • serena says:

        And let’s face it – few of these names will actually get to do some acting work that deserves so substantial widespread attention. Male or female btw. I am not excluding the current female talent from these crappy and irrelevant careers we see today. It is highly ubiquitous.

    • Absolutely says:

      It’s all just image though, isn’t it? Image has never not been a part of Hollywood. You’re lamenting the ‘asexual’ image of modern movie stars, but back then the studios had a much more micro-managing view toward their stars. It was just that the images were very stereotypical masculine/feminine roles. All the men were beefcake hyper sexual hetero men, when in reality a lot of them were hiding homosexuality. All the women were either extremely made up siren types or sweet girl next door types.
      We’ve moved into an era where we have dispensed with a lot of these stereotypes and Hollywood is a reflection of that. It may make more of a more “sterile” image, as you say, with some people, but if you notice, I think most of those with that image tend to be more serious actors. I think it counteracts the ‘real-ness’ of all the reality tv stars and such.

      • serena says:

        Yes but look at the way we are looking at Ben Affleck or Jon Hamm now. They are still angels compared to someone like Jack Nicholson.

        I am not saying one is better than the other. I am just observing the situation. This wholesome ‘Ellen Show’ friendly image has overtaken the land. It is either the Brad Pitts or Ben Afflecks or Channing Tatums or Chris Pratts who will go on these shows and interminably talk about their children and wives etc. When in reality, not everything is all that nice and dandy – look at Ben Affleck’s life now.

        Or it is the Jake Gyllenhaal types who will talk about how much they WANT to be parents and husbands and they are just looking for the ‘right gal’! Or the Henry Cavill who only talks about how much he pumps and lifts @ the gym for that dumbass Superman role.

        No one presents an element of danger, decadence or disturbance. It is scarily bland, robotic and one-size-fits-all.

        This ‘Stars… they are just like us’ thing has gone overboard. They do not have the talent to counteract and buffer this level of blandness. We are fetish-izing the concept of wholesomeness, having a family, reproducing and being so safe so that you will not have to apologize for anything.

        It is the Colin Farrell before-and-after situation.

        Those days of Hollywood, that played out like some Jackie Collins novel, are gone. Now they all talk about loving to play PalyStation with their pals and hanging out with Jimmy Kimmel or Jimmy Fallon in family picnics!

        They come off sexless and one-note and that does negatively affect the way we perceive them as performers.

      • Absolutely says:

        But back then studios were in control of their images. Of course we know now that everyone was screwing everything in sight and taking as many drugs as possible, but you don’t think Rock Hudson was talking about that in interviews in Harpers Bazarr do you? Everyone in Hollywood has always had an image. It’s just that now with social media it’s easier to out them.

      • Esmerelda says:

        @serena, I understand what you’re saying, but I think it’s all part of a generational trend: I’ve been reading that young ppl drink less, for one. And have you noticed how there are no more tormented, self destructive rock stars around? I think the public simply wants and likes more wholesome role models.

        We oldies of course miss the glory days.

    • Lilacflowers says:

      @Serena, long before there was Ellen, there was Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas and Steve Allen where actors would go on afternoon talk shows and chat about their lives. Ellen is nothing new

    • bns says:

      I’m late, but I agree.

  12. Mispronounced Name Dropper says:

    Loved him in The Game.

  13. Esmerelda says:

    He’s not really making much sense, is he? The rational part of his argument (brits have better training, US actors are just image obsessed) I can understand, but the other part (aussies have the looks, US actors look asexual) sounds a bit random…. I mean, can you tell the nationality of Thor from his looks?

    And Douglas himself never really looked beefy or masculine… just handsome and slightly dangerous, but he was no beefcake.

    • Jayna says:

      It’s like he began talking one way and then went off on another tangent. I agree. Douglas did have gravitas on the screen and a masculinity, not a beefcake, and turned in some strong roles in some great films. I got what he was saying about many actors not as dedicated to their craft here and more so their persona and popularity and thus not working on range in their acting, but then he lost me with Chris Pratt and going off in another direction.

      • Absolutely says:

        He lost me as well. It’s a bit rich to be talking about the lack of proper training for American actors and then in the same breath lamenting that we don’t have more actors like…Channing Tatum?

  14. Jayna says:

    I’ve said for a while there’s a dearth of actors who come across as men, not boys playing parts. And the part about being trained for your acting profession and caring about the roles and not the publicity, etc., is true. There’s a reason 60-year-old Liam Neeson became the face of box office hits and the go-to guy for action thrillers. He has the physical presence of a man who can do that role, but the man can also act and thus brings gravitas to his roles. The Grey shows that. Several of these parts were written for much younger men, but they rewrote the roles for him. And he is a man doing the job, not a boy.

    • Esmerelda says:

      That may be due also to the four quadrants thing? Like, we love to see a man doing a man’s job, but to a teenager it may look like ‘old man on screen’?

      I guess the audience for Liam Neeson action movies (or the expendables, or possibly even Bond movies) is limited, that’s what I’m trying to say.

    • Christin says:

      Liam won me over with his portrayal of a backwoods Kentuckian in Next of Kin years ago. He nailed that role and had a completely believable accent. I haven’t followed many of his roles, but that one convinced me he was a very good actor.

      In comparison, his onetime GF Julia R did that dreadful Mary Reilly (her attempt at an English accent was dreadful).

      • funcakes says:

        Julia hovered between a British and Irish accent. But managed to turn in a good performance.

        Leo DiCaprio also attempted an accent and should never do it again.

  15. BW says:

    ‘Michaed Douglas says, “American actors are too sensitive and asexual,”‘ says the man who played Liberace.

    • serena says:

      He is talking about their persona, not the roles they play. Not everyone is going to have the chance to play some oversexed macho man.

      And Liberace was an extremely sexualized role. That whole movie was about a man’s sexuality. Nothing like that can be deemed ‘sterile’ – straight or gay.

  16. Keaton says:

    I don’t think he’s just talking about beefy, built up guys when he refers to “masculinity”
    I think he’s talking about a certain attitude, danger, assertiveness, etc that seems to be missing from the images of lots of young American actors nowadays.
    They’re not just asexual but they’re quite safe and bland IMO. At least the Brits can act.

    • Naddie says:

      Yes, that’s how I interpreted it too. Like, Chirs Hemsworth is bulky, but there’s no assertiveness on his persona (yeah, I know he’s not american, but you got my point).

    • manta says:

      I totally thought that was what he meant (masculinity not the same as beefy )but he lost me with citing Tatum who, at least to me is the asexual hunk.

      I took it that at one point Hollywood had room for the likes of Mitchum, Bogart, John Wayne or Bronson,Bogart, the masculine types but not GQ material or first pick for a Dior campaign or a Armani endorsement. I’m not sure they’d be given a shot today.

      The Brits employ Brendan Gleeson, Ray Winstone, Stephen Graham, Eddie Marsan etc… Sure they won’t get a call from Tom Ford or Men’s health anytime soon but I’m sure they don’t lose sleep over it. I’m under the impression these things matter more for US actors (at least the ones getting their break now)

  17. funcakes says:

    I think what it all boils do to is there two categories:
    Movie Stars and Actors

    Movie Stars burn bright and burn out barely seen again. Remember the Brat Pack.

    Then there are actors who get very little press but manage to get all the work. A great example is British actor James Frain. He’s in everything and have been acting for over twenty years. No role is to small. What keeps him working is the fact that barely anyone could pick him out of a line up.

    • FingerBinger says:

      Michael Shannon,Sean Penn,Daniel Day Lewis J.K. Simmons and John Hawkes are also in that category of actors not movie stars. Denzel Washington is in the rare category of actor and movie star.

      • funcakes says:

        JK Simmons is in a category all his own. I’ve been watching him for years and he never disappoints. Ditto for Shannon.

  18. Absolutely says:

    There are plenty of actors in America that have great training. Those just aren’t the people hired for film/television. Everyone has to look just ‘so’. If you aren’t young and slim and perfect and botoxed to within an inch of your life, you aren’t getting that role. The advantage that Brits have, in addition to their training, (and I hope this continues) is that british television and film tend to hire actors that are best for the part. There are normal looking people on british tv. There’s a seemingly normal mix that’s reflected in society of good-looking, average, and not so great looking people getting parts.
    It’s quite a relief to watch Brit film. You aren’t so distracted by everyone looking so perfect that you’re sat wondering, how do all these people look so strangely alien perfect?

    • Kitten says:

      Nah. I definitely don’t think we have a deficit of “normal-looking people” on American television.

      Look at The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie, Better Call Saul, The Wire, Orange Is The New Black, Fargo, etc–and that’s just a small sample. Many of the stars of these shows are relatably average-looking.

      To add, American television is probably the best it’s ever been. We have a lot of really well-made shows with increasingly diverse casts and hopefully we’ll continue with that trend.

      I think what you’re saying might have applied 20 years ago, when we relied on network television for our programming, but ever since HBO’s Sopranos changed the landscape we really have a lot to choose from. So many good shows that I actually can’t keep up!

      • Absolutely says:

        It’s gotten massively better in the last 10 years. But there’s still a lot of uglying up of pretty people, especially women. I still think it’s easier to get jobs in Britain if you aren’t at least an ‘8’ than it is in the U.S.

      • Kitten says:

        Yeah a great example of the “uglying up” is Rachel McAdams on the new TD. It’s hilarious, like “let’s give her really bad hair and no makeup and maybe that will distract from her flawless skin and perfect face!”. It’s not working, guys.

        That might be true. I guess I don’t watch enough British television to give a fair assessment. Either way, it’s changing for the better here I think.

      • Absolutely says:

        It is. I agree.

    • Julie says:

      i agree with Absolutely with british series (i dont watch many british movies) its a lot more regular looking people. tv is generally better for ugly but talented people, in movies you have to be super good looking to get parts. like ugyling up women or Logan Lerman as an awkward guy who couldnt get dates LOL!

      it also seems if the subject matter is more intellectual and challenging the looks of the actors matter less. Bryan Cranston is an attractive man (and crazy good as an actor) but he wouldnt be allowed to lead a big network tv show for example, or Phiillip Seymour Hofman wouldnt have been allowed to lead a summer blockbuster.

      its really a shame its so much about looks in Hollywood but the audience plays a big part in it and good looking people are easier to market as the interest is way higher.

      • Kitten says:

        I agree with you, particularly with your second paragraph.

        Again, I think the inception of HBO and The Sopranos really forged a path for great, well-written, well-acted shows with a lot of character actors, who might not be gorgeous, but have loads of talent.

        Pre-HBO we really only had sit-coms and legal/doctor dramas to choose from.

        Another thing that’s worked in our favor is mainstream film actors crossing over to TV, whereas in the past, TV was considered a failure–a last resort–if you were a film actor.

    • EN says:

      > It’s quite a relief to watch Brit film. You aren’t so distracted by everyone looking so perfect that you’re sat wondering, how do all these people look so strangely alien perfect?

      Exactly! Watching US movies is like being transported to Elysium. Everyone is so perfect, it is disturbing.

      • Kitten says:

        Yes. If you are talking about blockbuster films, but there are tons of indie films that feature regular-looking people. I swear. I’m not making it up..lol

  19. renee28 says:

    The US may not have as many institutes churning out trained actors but there certainly are trained actors making a name for themselves. Chadwick Boseman, Dane DeHaan, Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac just to name a few. For better or worse in the US there’s more opportunity for actors to get their start without formal training. And besides training doesn’t necessarily mean talent.

    • EN says:

      I love Oscar Isaac, speaking of which it seems most really well trained US actors are coming out of Julliard.
      I just don’t understand why so many mediocre actors are hired ahead of them.
      I think it might the issue of the looks vs. talent? In the US people expect to see only perfect people on the TV or in the movies. Often a pretty face wins over a talent and training.

  20. Jayna says:

    I know few Deniros and Pacinos will ever come along again (although their later work has been a cash grab). At least, Al is back doing some great roles again. I didn’t realize he had lost millions, so probably why he took a lot of crap later on, and at a certain age not being offered great roles.

    But The New Yorker last year ran a long feature on Pacino’s career interviewing him. Reading this interview and the author of the article delving into Al and his climb to becoming one of the acting legends of any generation made you realize how there are few out there like him, that have this innate brilliance for the art of acting early on and truly revered their craft. Al had something internal in him the way he inhabited roles, very intense. It was a fascinating read.


  21. Toni says:

    I agree about lack of training in American actors but lack of manliness? I believe things are changing and that being men (or women for that matter) no longer means being one dimensional. Strange because even in Wall Street I never looked at Michael Douglas as a threatening dangerous kind of male. Maybe because I still remember him from “The Streets of San Francisco” TV show were he did play a sensitive type of cop. His FATHER on the other hand had the “menace and danger” thing down pact if you watch a number of his movies.

  22. bettyrose says:

    Susan Faludi dug up crap on him I tend to believe in Backlash. For example, he’s largely the reason Fatal Attraction was changed from the original story to make the mistress crazier and the wife more passive, all in the name of making his character more manly by comparison.

  23. I agree with Lilac that Michael Douglas should steer clear of talking about ‘anyone’s sexuality! As a trained actor in a family of actors–he knew exactly what he was saying. He passive aggressively cast shade on his own wife! He was born on 2nd base,don’t forget. And now that we’re on the subject, for many years there has been speculation that his father has a bit of thee Bill Cosby behavior…

  24. EN says:

    Meh! I love sensitive , educated, metrosexual men and can’t stand macho types.
    But I think the issue in the US is the lack of formal and deep acting training and also lack of appreciation for arts and theater. There aren’t that many good jobs for actors outside of Hollywood.

  25. Christina says:

    I will forever adore this man!

  26. familard says:

    Life experience matters. Its basically green fresh-out-of-school American actors vs Brits/Aussies who have put in years working in low budget theater and TV before they come to the Los Angeles. There’s a great podcast called “Another Aussie in LA”, all about Aussies coming to the US.