They were struggling actors when Danny DeVito and Michael Douglas met in the summer of 1966 at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Connecticut. “They were building an amphitheater, and they recruited actors to do outdoor work,” Danny, 74, recalled as the two longtime friends did a joint Q&A at the Producers Guild of America’s recent Produced By Conference in Los Angeles on June 8.
Michael, also 74, butted in, “I see this guy walking up [to] me, and he’s got long hair,” to which Danny hilariously quipped, “Hair?” That encounter was just the beginning of their incredible rollercoaster ride of a friendship.
They soon became roommates in NYC, and over the half-century since, Michael and Danny have only grown closer as they’ve collaborated several times. “I realize now how much more fun it is when you’re working with your friends,” Michael gushed. “It’s about keeping in touch and being with people you care about,” Danny said in agreement.
When Michael produced 1975’s Oscar-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — a project dad Kirk Douglas had struggled for years to get off the ground — he told director Milos Forman about Danny, who was appearing in an off-Broadway production of the psychiatric-hospital drama at the time. “He was the first person we cast,” Michael explained. “We had an extraordinary experience.”
The duo worked together on-screen for the first time in 1984’s hit Romancing the Stone. Michael also produced the film and made sure that Danny would receive billing above the title. “I had no idea this was going to happen,” Danny admitted. “That was a big, big thing.”
A year later, they reunited for the sequel, The Jewel of the Nile, which ended up being a trouble-plagued production after a plane crash killed six crew members and a dysentery outbreak on set. Luckily, Michael was able to lean on the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia star. “I was so grateful for this guy,” the Ant-Man actor revealed at the Q&A.
The pair had a happier time on 1989’s The War of the Roses, a dark comedy Danny also directed. Last year, they appeared together again on Michael’s award-winning Netflix sitcom The Kominsky Method.
Through the decades, Danny and Michael have supported each other amid the stresses of marital crises and the joys of parenthood. “We both love our families and friends so much,” Danny shared. “And if you’re fortunate enough to work with people over and over again, it really adds to the joy.” Amazing!
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