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A tender tale

Michael Douglas says Debra Winger lost movie role after biting him

Actor recounts the pair’s dinner as he was searching for a co-star in 1984’s ‘Romancing the Stone,’ which ended with her trying his arm for dessert

Michael Douglas at the 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Los Angeles; Actress Debra Winger attends the New York Film Critics Circle Awards at Tao Downtown on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in New York (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP; Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Michael Douglas at the 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Los Angeles; Actress Debra Winger attends the New York Film Critics Circle Awards at Tao Downtown on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in New York (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP; Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Actor Michael Douglas has suggested fellow Jewish thespian Debra Winger lost the lead role in 1984 adventure movie “Romancing the Stone” after biting him in the arm.

Douglas recently appeared on Rob Lowe’s “Literally!” podcast to reminisce about his career.

At one point, he mentioned that Winger had been up to play Joan Wilder in the movie, in which a female romance novelist finds herself caught up in an Indiana Jones-style jungle romp with Douglas’s Jack T. Colton. Joan was played in the movie by Kathleen Turner.

Douglas said he and director Robert Zemeckis met with Winger one night, with the actress the studio’s first pick for the role.

“She comes out with us to have a dinner one night and we all have dinner together and we’re talking and knocking back tequilas…

“And we walk out and, just as you would kind of go ‘Oh you!’ and give somebody a little punch in the arm, like, joke around, she goes ‘Oh you!’ and she reaches over and she bites me on my arm. ‘Argh!’ Really bites me.”

“And she’s joking and I’m looking at her and I go, phew I don’t know man… I’m thinking, this could be rough… she’s broken the skin.”

“Bob and I go back to Hollywood and we go down to see the studio to talk to them… and I break down in tears and say, ‘I can’t go to the jungle with her — she bit me on the arm.’ I said ‘I can’t do it… it’s not worth it!’”

So they said, ‘Okay, all right.'”

Douglas’s retelling of the story was jovial. It was unclear whether Winger biting off more than Douglas could chew was indeed the reason she did not end up getting the role. Certainly food for thought, though.

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