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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.”

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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