Monday, June 5

Michael Douglas Says Debra Winger Once Bit Him on the Arm While Meeting for Romancing the Stone Role

Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas

Paul Morigi/Getty; Amy Sussman/WireImage/Getty

Michael Douglas is revealing his reasons behind not wanting to costar with Debra Winger in Romancing the Stone.

On the 100th episode of the Literally! With Rob Lowe podcast, Douglas, 77, told Lowe about making the 1984 adventure film with director Robert Zemeckis, including the time they went to meet with Winger, who was the studio’s “first choice” to play Douglas’ romantic interest. (Kathleen Turner was ultimately cast in the role, sparking a decades-long friendship between her and Douglas.)

“She was in Texas doing Terms of Endearment. 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. “… She was spending her time in the hospital, because she plays terminally ill in the picture, so she was doing method work, I guess, staying and living in the hospital.”

Douglas said they all got dinner one night and they were “knocking back some tequilas,” then afterward “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 said the bite had “broken the skin.”

The actor laughed about the interaction and said though she was being playful, he thought to himself, “I don’t know, man. This could be rough.”

Back in Hollywood, while meeting with the studio, Douglas said when the topic of Winger’s casting came up, “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—’ They said, ‘Okay, alright.’ “

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In her 2008 memoir Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles, Turner, now 67, referenced the story of Winger biting Douglas.

“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,” wrote Turner.

A rep for Winger did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner

Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner

Courtesy Everett Collection

Winger opened up to PEOPLE back in 2017 about taking a break from Hollywood at 40 and previously clashing with some of her famous costars, such as Richard Gere and Shirley MacLaine.

“I don’t know what Hollywood is. I’m living under the freaking sign now, and I just stare at it and laugh,” Winger said at the time. “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.”

She insisted that her decision to leave the business had less to do with her professional life and more to do with her personal one. “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 said.

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