“These have been some wonderful months”
At the agreed time, half ten in the morning, Michael Douglas appeared in the gardens at the Charterhouse in Valldemossa. He was alone. Catherine had remained at S’Estaca, while their children, Dylan and Carys, returned to the US last week for the start of the academic year.
He was wearing a blue guayabera-style shirt with a mask to match the shirt. He looked well and very relaxed, a sign that he has been having a good summer in Majorca; he’s been here since June.
It’s the second time that he has stayed at S’Estaca this year. In February, shortly after the death of his father, he spent a few days at S’Estaca. “But now I’m returning to the US for the third season of The Kominsky Method.”
He isn’t in a hurry, so we can take things easy and can talk about everything. By way of greeting, we call him the master of S’Estaca, as he has bought out the part ownership of his ex-wife, Diandra. “That I’ve always been,” he laughs.
We’ve been experiencing an annus horribilis
“This year, 2020, is the worst year of my life. I was born in 1944, so I took no part in the Second World War. But this is one of the worst things I can imagine. The pandemic affects everyone, regardless of their financial status. The only hope I have is that it brings us all a little closer. But it is a tragedy, and it indicates which countries have strong governments and those which do not. I hope that it will prepare us for the next time.”
How was your confinement?
“Our confinement, probably, was much easier to bear than for others. We have the financial wherewithal to isolate ourselves and separate ourselves from the rest of the world. But my heart has always been with the people who were in isolation that was not as easy as ours; those in small apartments, for example.
“Without doubt, the most positive aspect is that we have been able to be with the children, Dylan and Carys. He is at university, and she boards at school. It was nice to all be together. Before coming to Majorca, we spent most of the time in New York or seeing the family, my mother, my older brother. And thanks to Catherine being British, we were able to travel to the island, as the Spanish government wasn’t permitting Americans in particular to enter the country. I am grateful that Catherine is British.”
We assume that you will return to Majorca, at the latest in February, in order to see the almond blossom.
“I hope so. In fact, Catherine will be staying on with her family. We’ll see what happens at Christmas. We have truly enjoyed the time here that previously we could not because the children were in school. These have been some wonderful months. Majorca has such fantastic weather that allows you to enjoy the Tramuntana more and more. I’ve never seen so many young people walking and hiking along the routes of the mountains. In this situation, that is positive. It is good that young people can get to appreciate how extraordinary the Tramuntana Mountains are.”
We believe that all Majorcans will thank you for the photos you have posted on Instagram and in which we have seen how much you enjoy the island. This has undoubtedly been great publicity.
“It hurts me greatly to see that so many small businesses in Majorca, Spain, New York and the rest of the world are having such a bad time. New York will take years to recover. There is a very difficult situation for many people. I have observed how Majorca and the Balearics have been reacting; it’s as if they have been united and strengthened.”
Majorca inspires Catherine’s new fashion range
Catherine Zeta-Jones has a design company, a brand that is identifiable with her for its elegance and simplicity. Michael Douglas proudly, and with a broad smile, referred to this: “Catherine has her own Casa Zeta-Jones range, and it has much to do with the influence that Majorca has on her. But she has just begun. She has a bedding line, clothes for the home, and now she’s doing something that has to do with footwear. She enjoys all this a great deal, especially when she is here at S’Estaca.”
The actor, who reveals that Catherine now has a fifty per cent stake in S’Estaca, says that “despite the gossip, she has always enjoyed being here”. “I think that the next time we speak, we will reveal some surprises that we are preparing regarding projects related to Majorca and with the possible collaboration of people from the island and from Spain in general.”
At S’Estaca, Majorcan style permeates every part. The “roba de llengües” is a clear example, as it is to be found with cushions on the terrace and in other areas which have appeared in images that the actress has shared on Instagram in recent weeks.
As Michael Douglas has pointed out, it is possible that this Majorcan mark will serve as inspiration in the near future for Casa Zeta-Jones products. The company, which started out with bedding and clothing that is elegant and comfortable at home, is now also producing footwear: shoes with elegant and simple lines for which comfort is not at odds with exclusivity. It is a collection designed for a lifestyle, which was designed to provide everything necessary to transform the most personal and everyday range into beauty. “From Everyday to Extraordinary”; this is the motto.
Days of relaxation on the island
Michael, ‘en Miquel de S’Estaca’, has come to the end of the longest vacation he has spent on the island. Mostly spent at S’Estaca, he has read a lot and taken long walks to the viewing points in the mountains.
He has been to Valldemossa, had lunch just like any other resident, and visited some friends. He went on a yacht trip to Minorca. The family spent four days there, celebrating Dylan’s twentieth birthday.
Minorca is an island he knows with special fondness, as he met Catherine during the Sant Joan fiestas there.
Summer evenings at S’Estaca
On the yacht trip, they stopped off in Formentor, had dinner and spent the night. From Formentor, it was back to S’Estaca via Soller, stopping for lunch. The family marvelled at views of the sea from the Tramuntana, from the estate that was once Archduke Louis Salvador’s. Everyone got to see all this through photos and videos on Instagram, with one of these including Catherine’s dog, Taylor. Michael also posted a video as @United Nations Messenger of Peace and showed his support for and solidarity with the Lebanese people after the explosion in Beirut.
Catherine, for her part, visited Palma, walking through the old centre, more quiet than ever because of the absence of tourists.
“We have lived a nightmare of four years with the Trump presidency”
You are now returning to the US in order to film The Kominsky Method, for which older people around the world must be grateful, as it helps them learn how to grow old.
“Not just that. Older people have a great sense of humour as well. I really enjoy the filming. The producer and scriptwriter is Chuck Lorre, a very good writer, as has been demonstrated with his successes with The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. We have very good actors and material for the series, and a streaming service like Netflix provides a magnificent combination of television and the world of cinema. For the first time, it’s easier for people from both worlds to be together. It’s a very good product, and this will be the final season.”
By the way, congratulations on your Emmy nomination as co-producer and best actor for the series.
“Thank you very much. I appreciate that.”
The waiter, Alex, is he a character or does he really exist?
“The actor Ramón Hilario plays the character. Fortunately and in reality, he’s somewhat faster. The restaurant where we shoot is the Musso & Frank Grill. It’s a well-known establishment in Hollywood; especially well-known for its waiters, who have been working there for more than fifty years. It is, therefore, a real location, but we really milk it when it comes to filming. Many scenes have been shot there. For the people of Los Angeles, it’s a place of reference.”
Your father Kirk was a great actor and he left a huge amount of money to charity.
“My father donated around 110 million dollars, with a minimum for his children. During his life he had already distributed a similar amount to charity. He was active in many solidarity projects. One that benefited the most was the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a health, retirement and support centre for all of us involved in the film and television industry. And I’m not just talking about directors, actors and actresses. There are also the people in charge of building sets, making costumes ... . In the film industry, we help each other. It is common that, as artists, we are asked to support the people of the guild, and we feel fortunate to be able to do so.
“My father also had a foundation dedicated to Alzheimer’s patients, to which he donated 15 million dollars. In fact, we have had to expand this foundation, as this disease is growing. My father and stepmother Anne created the Douglas Foundation, of which I am now the executor of their will. But he made it very easy for me. The projects are in Los Angeles and in Israel - in both the Jewish and Palestinian areas. More than one hundred playgrounds have been built, and we also help people who don’t have a roof over their heads.”
On politics, you are involved with the Democratic Party.
“From my point of view, we have lived through four years of a nightmare. Trump won by surprise because of the voting system, and he has been a disaster. I am very disappointed by all the treaties he has broken. We are now at a point where both enemies and allies are against the United States.”
A few weeks ago, you conducted a Skype interview at S’Estaca with Ismael Beah, a former war child from Sierra Leone and now an activist against child soldiers.
“Yes, it was Ismael, a one-time war child. I was a United Nations representative in Sierra Leone for twelve years, right after its civil war. The idea for the interview, for the dialogue that we had, was to focus on the problem of war children and to highlight the improvements that have been achieved. Ismael is an example of a child soldier who has prospered and has known how to improve himself in life.”
We imagine that you have been following the Spanish news. Have you been surprised by the importance given to the former king, Juan Carlos, and to Corinna?
“No. Gossip is more fun than talking about a pandemic. We can’t talk about tough things all the time; we need to distract ourselves. I am very sorry for the royal family. I see from the press that Don Juan Carlos is regretful and that the investigation has not concluded. This is why I’ll reserve making comments. I’m sure that he’s embarrassed, while Don Felipe seems to be taking the flak and trying to resolve it. My thoughts are with the family. It is to be seen what the crime was, if it really was.”
One final question. Your son Cameron has written a book Long Way Home. He tells of those years of drugs and prisons. It’s undoubtedly a great book and has been a great success in the US. Do you see the book being turned into a film?
“I don’t particularly consider Cameron’s book as something for the cinema. It’s been very hard for me and for the family. Cameron is now developing personally and professionally. In December, he will have his second child, my second grandchild. His wife Viviane is from Brazil. They live in Los Angeles, and he just goes out to work. If someone were interested in a project of making it into a film, I would be delighted. As for Dylan and Carys, they are fine. Dylan has returned to university; not in person but virtually. Carys is at school in Switzerland, where the situation is not so bad.