Lesson learned! Michael Douglas turned 75 on September 25 — the same day wife Catherine Zeta-Jones turned 50 — but they didn’t throw an extravagant bash.

“We started planning a big bang, then we realized it’s overwhelming and we can do it some other time,” Michael exclusively told Closer Weekly in a new interview, on newsstands now, while at a recent Paley Center Honors Luncheon in NYC. “We have a number of friends who share our same birthday, so we’re going to go to one of their parties and hide.”

Catherine Zeta-Jones in a Red Dress and Michael Douglas in a Suit Inside the 2019 Emmys
Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

That approach is in line with one of the lessons Michael has gleaned from his life. “I pace myself,” he says. “I’m not a surfer, but I admire surfers who sit and do nothing, then suddenly the wave comes and they’re ready.”

Michael is currently riding the crest of a career wave with his award-winning role as an acting teacher in Netflix’s sitcom The Kominsky Method, which returns for season 2 on October 25. “I’ve always been fascinated by comedy,” says Michael, best known for dramatic parts like his Oscar-winning turn as greedy Gordon Gekko in 1987’s Wall Street. “I’m learning something new and enjoying it.”

Michael says the most important thing he’s learned in his life is that “kindness is not weakness. I try to conduct myself as a good citizen of the planet and look out for those who are less fortunate.”

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones on the Red Carpet at the 2019 Emmy Awards
Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

After surviving stage 4 throat cancer in 2010, Michael says his health “is good. You get checked once a year and just keep moving.” He’s most grateful for his loved ones, including father Kirk Douglas, 102; kids Cameron Douglas, 40, Dylan Douglas, 19, and Carys Douglas, 16; and granddaughter Lua, 1. “Meeting Catherine [in 1998] was extraordinary, and my family has been an really important part of my life,” says Michael. “I’ve been very fortunate.”

As for what the secret to success for his nearly 20-year marriage to the Chicago actress has been, it’s actually pretty simple if you ask him. He says “mutual respect” is the paramount thing to remember in terms of your soulmate — and it seems he and Catherine have mountains of that to go around.

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