A Father-Son Creation
By the beginning of the 1960s, Kirk Douglas was one of the first Hollywood actors to cross over into the role of producing films. And when he read Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel, he saw himself in the role of the charismatic and crazy inmate R.P. McMurphy. Kirk soon acquired the rights to Kesey’s novel and developed it into a Broadway play, placing himself as the lead character, McMurphy (who was later played by Jack Nicholson in the film).
The thing is, for years, Kirk tried to make it into a film, but it never went anywhere. Meanwhile, his son, Michael, was at university in Santa Barbara, and with the Vietnam War going on, he spent a lot of his time being politically active. Michael Douglas also loved Kesey’s book about one man against the system. At the time, he never even thought about producing, but he found himself telling his dad: “Let me run with this.”