Between the four of them, Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline have won six Academy Awards and boast an additional nine nominations.
And this weekend, these four acclaimed actors join forces for the first time in director Jon Turteltaub’s new comedy “Last Vegas.” The film follows four childhood friends – Billy (Douglas), Paddy (De Niro), Archie (Freeman) and Sam (Kline) – as they converge on Sin City for a bachelor party weekend. As Billy prepares to marry his much younger bride, each man rediscovers his youth, struggles with the trappings of old age and deals with an old rivalry that could threaten the lifelong bond of these 60-somethings.
“Last Vegas” co-stars Mary Steenburgen (add another Oscar to the cast) as a charming lounge singer, Romany Malco as a Vegas resort concierge and Jerry Ferrara as a pesky partier.
I recently caught up with Turteltaub and 69-year-old Douglas, who told me which of his iconic co-stars is a huge flirt, which sentimental items he’s saved from childhood and what he loves about getting old. Hint: He’s not too fond of it.
David Onda: John, how did the stars align to get these four amazing actors in the same movie?
Jon Turteltaub: You now have the headline for your article, which is “When Stars Align.” That’s what it was like, getting actual stars to align, and it happened because of a few things. It starts with a great script, because everyone’s reading the same script and seeing how good this movie is. They have to sign on with faith in the director. And, I think, after Michael signed on, it really opened the door for the other guys. Michael was the first one in, took the first chance, and everyone wanted to work with him.
Onda: Michael, what attracted you to “Last Vegas,” besides the fact that you get to play the cool guy with the hot, young fiancée?
Michael Douglas: Well, that’s not bad for openers. [laughs] It had a lot of charm. I’ve gotta say, I was influenced by the big hit “The Hangover.” I felt like this had a whole other level in terms of – it had all that fun and joy of coming to Las Vegas, but it had the element of the guys getting older and how they deal with it. I like Jon a lot, saw his pictures. And then quickly Bobby got involved and then Morgan and there was no more question. This is the best cast I’ve ever been a part of.
Onda: Is it unusual being cast in a role because you are old enough for it?
Douglas: It’s the same as being cast when you’re young enough. Somebody’s gotta play the part. It’s such a joy at this point in one’s career to still find pieces of material as good as this. And the other part of it is it’s a lot more fun working with older actors. They’re much more responsible, much more professional. And they have their intentions in the right order. Young actors can be hit and miss. When there was a call to the set, we’re ready to shoot, there weren’t any laggers. Everybody was ready and knew what they wanted to do.
Onda: I like that these four characters are very much how I might expect the actors who play them to be in real life. Michael is the cool one, Morgan likes to cut a rug, Kevin is kind of snarky and Robert is quiet and serious. Is that somewhat accurate?
Turteltaub: Yeah, actually. It’s funny because I think these characters really reflect the personas of the actors more than they reflect the personas of the parts that they’ve played. Bobby is quiet and sweet and has that softness inside. And Morgan is a jokester and is full of mischief and dancing—
Douglas: —and a big flirt!
Turteltaub: Big flirt! Though, he’s only a big flirt because he’s so damn good at it. But you don’t see him do that in movies that much. And Kevin, by the way, is always doing something new in a movie that it’s hard to really pin him down at all.
Onda: “Last Vegas” deals a lot with embracing your age. Michael, what have you enjoyed most about being a man of a certain age?
Douglas: Umm. Not a lot. [laughs] Not a whole hell of a lot. I guess you’re more comfortable with yourself, for sure. You’ve kind of accepted who you are. You know what you like, you know what you don’t like. You try not to get too locked into a set routine. But I’m a firm believer that youth is wasted on the young. We’ve been talking a lot about that. I think, at my age, the only real enjoyment you get out of it – I’m very blessed and fortunate to have young children where I can share things and have unequivocal love for them and give them that energy and that input. And, also, my father is 96 now. He’s studied, gone back with a rabbi, and is going back through the Old Testament. And there is an expression called “tikkun olam,” which means “to make the world a better place.” I think at a certain age, your responsibility, or your joy in life, is to try and make the world around you better.
Onda: In the movie, Billy saves a bottle of liquor from when the guys were kids, and he brings it along to Vegas. Have either of you saved something sentimental for that many years?
Douglas: I’ve got my old yearbooks. I have my old high school yearbooks and [enjoy] seeing all the people who signed at the end of the year. I like that. And I don’t thing I’ve ever gotten rid of any clothes I’ve ever had. I have the same clothes from 25 years ago.
Turteltaub: They’re probably hip again! I’m lucky enough that my parents still live in the same house that I grew up in, so my room from growing up is more like my archives. It’s all still there.
Onda: “Last Vegas” plays up some stereotypes of aging, but also shows that there are things you’re never too old for. How do you strike a balance between those elements, Jon?
Turteltaub: The movie deals with the struggles that people deal with. I’ve always found it difficult to manage that phrase, “Act your age.” It’s a tough thing to do, to know what that means. Does acting your age when your older mean, if you’re 70, “You’re not 90, you’re not bedridden, go out, have fun, live your life and enjoy it.” Or does 70 mean, “You’re not 30, don’t be chasing skirts and thinking you’re gonna get younger by acting younger.” It’s hard to know. And for each of us, it’s a little bit different. And the movie really is asking people to try and figure out what that means to act your age.
Onda: Michael, did you have relationship with Robert, Morgan or Kevin before this? And what surprised you most about your co-stars?
Douglas: I know Morgan probably a little better than the other two, just because we’re both golfers and do some similar charity work together. Bobby, I’ve said hi to for 30 years, but can’t say I’ve ever had a conversation. And I met Kevin a couple times. I think we all kind of admire each other’s work, and then it’s always a joy and a pleasure to find out that they’re nice people to boot. Bobby’s a big surprise, as Jon said. He comes in, he’s got a hug and a kiss for you every morning. He’s a little shy. He does his work. Morgan is such the antithesis of the regal part that he’s played. He’s got the greatest laugh, does the best drunk imitation since Foster Brooks I’ve ever seen. Just a hoot. A lot of fun. Kevin is just a wonderfully versatile actor, who I think, in this movie, reached a new comfort level in his life and his career. Certainly after the movie, not to mention the junkets, we’ve all bonded.
“Last Vegas” is in theaters everywhere on November 1. Click here to order tickets through Fandango.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.