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Kirk Douglas as he turned 100

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Snapshot of our filmed interview

As legendary actor, producer, director and philanthropist was turning 100, we met him for a filmed interview for a movie tribute in Paris, France.

  1. So you are celebrating your birthday in December…
  2. You know, it surprises me… parce que cent ans… a 100 years old I would have thought I would be finished with interviews, but here I am at 100 years old ok. When you’re 100, you would look back at your life and I have been around the world to almost every country but the country that I have the best memories of is in Paris. Je me souviens quand j’étais la première fois [in English: I remember when I was there the first time] I was taking a walk with Roland Petit’s wife, Zizi Jeanmaire, and I was fascinated that every corner was a pissoir. I thought that was a good idea. I don’t know what it is with the women but for the men… and so as we walk I said “just a minute, Zizi”. And I went into the pissoir and I did my piss and when I came out she was laughing, it was so funny to her. That was my first memory of Paris and I’ll never forget it. The second memory, you know, in Paris, was where I finally met my wife, Anne.  She spoke German, French and English so she was in demand for translating the pictures so I fell in love with her but she didn’t respond at first. One night I took her to the Cirque d’Hiver, where the actors play the parts in the circus for the show and when I went to grab her hand, I said I don’t know what to do…. – On va voir We will find something.  They grabbed me backstage and then there were elephants and all the actors of Paris and they went up and I came up from a curtain with a big broom and je me mis à balayer les coussins [in English: I swept the cushions] it was lovely and my wife loved that I made a fool of myself so that night when she kissed me goodbye, I knew I was in!
  3. You seduced her with a broom!
  4. So I have good memories of Paris.
  5. Mr. Douglas, in France and in Paris, people love you and we decided to pay a tribute to you for your very first birthday, your first birthday in terms of century.
  6. (nods)
  7. You learnt French in two months! Can you tell us how you did that?
  8. Quand j’ai commence à faire des films, … maintenant, c’est difficile pour moi de parler français. Tout le monde parle anglais. [When I started to make films, … now it’s difficult for me to speak French. Everyone speaks English]  The first picture I did in France, was “Act of Love” and they were going to cast a French Actor and I said “Well, Je suis un Américain qui parle français avec un accent et c’est bon” [well, I’m an American who speaks French with an accent and it’s fine], so I did the picture in French and English et à ce moment-là, j’ai parlé français tous les jours. Maintenant, j’ai oublié mon français [and from then, I spoke French every day.  Now I forgot my French.]
  9. Il est très bon, votre français, M. Douglas, il est très bon ! Et très sexy !
  10. (KD is lost but the other people in the room laugh)
  11. You have a delightful sense of humour. How important is laughing in everyone’s daily life?
  12. Oh, my god! To laugh is “beaucoup mieux que crier (was he meaning pleurer ?)” [much better than crying] because when one laughs, you, you loosen all the…. When inside you are tightening up so c’est beaucoup mieux de rire [so it’s much better to laugh.]
  13. Is there anything specific in Paris such as the metro, the food, the delicacies that you miss?
  14. Well, I miss Paris because I made a lot of friends there, I like the food there, I like the drinks there so I have many memories of Paris that stick in my mind.
  15. Well, that’s perfect, because I brought you some cheese…
  16. You brought fromage?
  17. Yep, Morbier! I hope you’ll like it.
  18. J’adore le fromage de Paris. Merci beaucoup.
  19. C’est un plaisir.  Also, in addition to your work as an actor, producer, director, writer, and poet, you are also a philanthropist. Where do you rank this role in your life ?
  20. I was a pauper, I had no money and I worked and I said when/if I get enough money, I will help other people. So I did that. The first thing I did when I went to school, I didn’t see any black people.  I started a Foundation that I supported with money.  I became a millionaire so I gave almost all my money to other people because I thought I was so lucky to be able to help people and I was so lucky that my wife felt the same way. We built a playground for all the schools because they were in bad shape and it took us 10 years, then my wife started an organization where she took women who were living in the streets and she has been building it, being the backbone…and she was very active in that. I gave money for old people who had no place to live and who had Alzheimer’s and I helped them. The only thing left, which makes you a success, is if you help other people.
  21. One last question, sir. It’s too bad you can’t celebrate this event with us in Paris, but maybe you can tell us in your own words your connection to the City of Lights – Paris, with…
  22. Well, Paris is like…from seeing the pissoir, I liked Paris. I have friends, I remember Brigitte Bardot, we were on the beach, and she had long hair and I would take her hair and make a moustache…  I congratulate Brigitte because she went in the field of helping animals and I like animals… I find that people in France were very happy to be with.  I’m very fond of them and I like them.  I have many friends who are still great friends and Paris is my favorite city.
  23. We thank you so much for inviting us to your beautiful home.
  24. In 100 years, you don’t think they would like interviewing me, so I’m glad to speak to the people of Paris and they are my best friends. Thank you.
  25. Thank you very much. You are our best friend too.

Interview: Stéphane Lam, conducted by Josef Csongei and Stéphane Lam, filmed by Nick Batchelder, edited by Maxime Garault.

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