Kirk Douglas on Stanley Kubrick: ‘He Was a Bastard’ But Immensely Talented

Kirk Douglas and Stanley Kubrick are two of the most renowned names in film history, known for their collaborations on “Spartacus” and “Paths of Glory.” But the two icons had a sometimes troubled relationship.

In an interview with Douglas in anticipation of his 100th birthday on Dec. 9, the actor discussed his long career, particularly his “peculiar” friendship with filmmaker Stanley Kubrick.

“He was a bastard!” notes Douglas. “But he was a talented, talented guy.”


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Their partnership began in 1955, when Douglas hired Kubrick to direct the film “Paths of Glory.” It wasn’t long before the two began clashing heads, after Kubrick made major script rewrites without Douglas’ approval or knowledge. In the end, Douglas forced the director to use the original version.

“Difficult? [Kubrick] invented the word,” Douglas revealed. “But he was talented. So, we had lots of fights, but I always appreciated his talent.”

The pair clashed again during the filming of 1960’s “Spartacus,” when Douglas forced Kubrick to go through with the now-iconic “I am Spartacus!” scene, which Kubrick was reported to have highly disliked. According to Douglas, their arguments were so prolonged and vicious that his wife suggested the two attend therapy together.

The psychiatrist told Kubrick to read the 1926 “Traumnovelle,” recalls Douglas, which would later become his final film, “Eyes Wide Shut.”

“It was the lousiest picture,” Douglas laughs.

Kubrick shot the Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman erotic drama in England, where he famously moved in 1961 after clashing with Universal Pictures on “Spartacus” after they refused to give him final cut.

Kubrick died of a massive heart attack in 1999, six days after showing Warner Bros. the final version of “Eyes Wide Shut.”


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  1. I often say I don’t get Kubrick (Strnagelove, 2001, Shining, Full Metla jacket, you cna keep ’em all) but then I recall he directed PAths Of Glory and Spartacus, too of my favorites. I coudl dig up my Pahts Of Glory, but I cna’t watch my Spartacus; the boobs at Uinversal didn’t subtitle Douglas’s Cwentnenial Collection

  2. Brief criticising by a Centuary Man Kirk Douglas to Late Stanley Kubrick indicating that he has a lot of love and respect for departed soul. Any how, both were ICONs of Hollywood Filim Industry and still affectionated by their fans across the Globe. Stanley Kubrick had directed in most dedicated and perfection manner most notably movies on various subjects whether these may be 2001: Space Oddesey, The Shinning, Eyes wide Shut and so on.

  3. steve says:

    I’ve never seen an account that says Douglas produced Paths of Glory. Harris produced it. Kubrick and Harris convinced Douglas to come on board. Somethings not right in the story.

  4. Nero says:

    Time will show the wiser.

  5. jimmy says:

    Mr Douglas is The Greatest.

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