Michael Douglas Says He's Become an 'Expert at Sex Scenes' While Reflecting on 'Basic Instinct' at Cannes

The actor said the secret to "well choreographed" sex scenes in movies is rehearsal

David Fisher/Shutterstock
David Fisher/Shutterstock

Michael Douglas has been around the block when it comes to movie sex scenes — and he's sharing his expertise.

The actor, 78, received the Honorary Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival's opening ceremony on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Douglas participated in a wide-ranging conversation at the French festival about his career and the importance of family.

At one point, the actor recalled being at the center of controversy when Basic Instinct premiered at the festival in 1992 — and refereed to himself as an "expert at sex scenes" while breaking down a love sequence from the provocative classic. Douglas also famously starred in the sexual thrillers Fatal Attraction (1987) and Disclosure (1994).

The Oscar winner said he is "proud of the fact my history with women in films ... most of them have given their best performances," and recalled rehearsing intimate scenes with costar Sharon Stone for Basic Instinct.

Related:Sharon Stone Still Has Iconic Basic Instinct Dress from 30 Years Ago: 'A Very Cool Time Capsule'

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty

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"The secret, I guess — since I've become the expert on sex scenes in movies — is rehearsal," he said. "You do a fight scene, you have to work out the choreography. ... When you do that you go, 'Okay, I throw a punch, boom, you go back and you come back, you throw, boom.' You start very slowly and then you work your way up to a faster pace."

"Well, the same thing; and particularly if you're doing a love scene, it's important for the lady that you're not taking advantage," added Douglas, noting that his steamy films came before the prevalence of intimacy coordinators on movie sets. "You tell them beforehand when you're starting: 'Alright, I'm going to put my hand here. Is that alright? Okay, you put your hand here and then we're going to go kiss, kiss, and then we are going to go ... we're going to go down.' "

He added, "It's very well choreographed."

StudioCanal/Shutterstock Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas in <em>Basic Instinct</em> (1992)
StudioCanal/Shutterstock Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas in Basic Instinct (1992)

About Basic Instinct playing at Cannes decades ago, the actor said the Paul Verhoeven-directed film was met with shocked responses.

"Normally, if you come here with a film and you're fortunate enough that it's been chosen, it's going to be something interesting. I've had different experiences here," he said. "I mean, Basic Instinct was unique, even for France. Seeing that sex scene on the Palais Festival's huge screen, biggest screen I've ever seen, was a little overwhelming, I think, for a lot of people."

"We had a very quiet dinner afterwards," he recalled. "Everybody was just sort of digesting it. But it was a lot of fun."

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