Michael Douglas, 77, was recently featured on an episode of the podcast “Literally! With Rob Lowe.” He opened up to fans about his experience behind the scenes of the 1984 film by Robert Zemeckis, “Romancing The Stone.”
He also spoke about meeting Debra Winger, the “first choice” of the studio to play the romantic interest of Douglas. He revealed how scared he was to co-star with Winger and recalled breaking down in tears, saying, “I can’t go to the jungle with her!” After such a long time, he finally said why. Keep reading to find out more.
Michael Douglas Narrated The Biting Story
Douglas explained that Winger was in Texas filming the movie “Terms of Endearment,” and she agreed to meet with him and others. “She normally doesn’t deal with actors or anyone else when she’s doing a film, which I understand, but she said, ‘I’ll hear what they have to say,’ and we talked,” he said.
They decided to get dinner one night and were “knocking back some tequilas.” He narrated, “we walk out, and just as you would kinda go ‘Oh, you!’ and give somebody a little punch in the arm joking around, she goes ‘Oh, you!’ and she reaches over and she bites me on my arm.”
He explained that her bite had “broken the skin.” Laughing about the incident, he remembered thinking that she was just being playful, but along the line, he said to himself, “I don’t know, man. This could be rough.”
Debra Winger Was Replaced After Michael Douglas Complained
When Douglas met with the studio in Hollywood, they brought up Winger’s casting as a topic, and in response, “I break down in tears, and I say, ‘I can’t go to the jungle with her! She bit me, look! She bit me in the arm! I can’t do it. It’s just not worth it. It’s just too hard; these pictures are too—” Douglas recalled saying.
He then confirmed that they agreed not to cast her “They said, ‘Okay, alright.'” In 2008, in her memoir “Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles,” Kathleen Turner, who ultimately replaced Winger in the movie role, referenced the incident.
A paragraph from the memoir read: “Michael Douglas produced as well as acted in “Romancing The Stone,” so he had a lot at stake in its success. He originally intended to have Debra Winger in the role of Joan, but they didn’t seem to get along as well as he’d hoped. They met to discuss it at a Mexican restaurant and she bit him, or so he said.”
Winger Stopped Acting
Back in 2017, Winger finally opened up to People about deciding to quit Hollywood at 40 and why. She explained that it just didn’t feel like home for her anymore. She said, “I don’t know what Hollywood is. I’m living under the freaking sign now, and I just stare at it and laugh,”
Winger also added that “Los Angeles is a place, but the idea of Hollywood doesn’t really exist for me. Broadway is more of a family than Hollywood, although there must be some in-crowds that I just don’t know about.”
Though fans believed otherwise, Winger insisted that the reason for leaving Hollywood wasn’t related to the biting incident or her professional life. She said, “The parts that were coming, I wasn’t interested in. I’d already done that or I’d already felt that. I needed to be challenged. My life challenged me more than the parts, so I dove into it fully.”
Winger Turned Down Roles
After her decision to take a long break, she began to turn down roles. Winger was expected to star in the sport/comedy “A League of Their Own,” a story of the first female baseball official group. She rejected the role and later opened up to Britain’s Daily Telegraph about her reasons.
She noted that she was uncomfortable with Madonna getting cast as Mae Mordabito in the film. Also, she wasn’t a fan of the story since it didn’t honor the original players well enough. She maintained this opinion when the film was eventually released, with Geena Davis in the role she rejected.
“As entertaining as [the film] was, you don’t walk away going, ‘Wow, those women did that.’ You kind of go, ‘is that true?'” Winger said. She was also paid for the film, even if she didn’t appear. “The studio agreed with me because it was the only time I ever collected a pay-or-play on my contract,” she explained, “In other words, I collected my pay even though I did not play, and that’s very hard to get in a court.”
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