Kirk Douglas Wonders About That ‘Dead Guy’

Actor recalls time spent at a New York police station in preparation for his Ace in the Hole role.

In an interview published this week, Nightcrawler writer-director Dan Gilroy tells George Mason University associate professor of film (and contributor) Thomas Britt that the high bar of low-journalism films has already been set:

I mention Ace in the Hole and Network as films that seem to provide an historical backdrop to Gilroy’s present-day treatment of similar issues. He acknowledges both of them, saying, “Any time you do a journalism film now or at any point you’re always going to be referencing to some degree those two films. Particularly Ace in the Hole because he’s an antihero; Kirk Douglas [Chuck Tatum] was an antihero in that film. And it was a brutal study of a morally bankrupt person driven to succeed. So there is a formulaic parallel in terms of narrative.”

Douglas has a great personal fondness for Ace in the Hole. And as it just so happens, on the same day that Britt’s piece hit the airwaves, the actor was separately recalling the 1951 drama once more for EW. In so doing, he reminds that the dark shadows bathing both Ace in the Hole and Nightcrawler bleed into other professions:

In preparation, Douglas hung out in a New York City police station. “It was a rainy, cold day and someone was lying down in the courtyard. I asked, ‘What’s that?’ They told me, ‘Oh, that’s a dead guy. We’re trying to figure out who he is.’ I don’t know if they ever found out. Maybe he’s still there.”