Michael Douglas' Bizarre Admission About Debra Winger Is Sure To Raise Eyebrows

The 1984 classic "Romancing the Stone" opened doors for nearly everyone involved in its production. The action movie set in the Colombian Amazon cemented Michael Douglas' status as a successful Hollywood leading man and producer and helped Kathleen Turner break free from the femme-fatale mold created by the 1981 erotic thriller "Body Heat," earning her first Golden Globe win. It also put director Robert Zemeckis on the map, as he went on to create the "Back to the Future" trilogy and win an Oscar with "Forrest Gump," and helped beef up Danny DeVito's film résumé on the heels of the successful "Terms of Endearment."

Only Turner wasn't who producers had envisioned to bring romance novelist Joan Wilder to life. They initially wanted Debra Winger, who became one of the 1980s most bankable actors following her Oscar-nominated performances in "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Terms of Endearment," IndieWire noted. Douglas and Zemeckis stopped in Texas to see Winger while she was filming the latter. "We couldn't get a direct answer whether she was committed or not," Douglas said.

But their meeting itself was bizarre enough to plant seeds of doubts. Douglas' reservations grew exponentially after his return from the Mexican jungle, where they were going to shoot "Romancing the Stone." The location was no joke, and Douglas anticipated plenty of stressful situations. "We were going to need somebody to be a total team player," Douglas told Variety in 2019. Now, Douglas is coming clean about what went down in the Lone Star State. 

Michael Douglas claims Debra Winger bit him pretty darn hard

Michael Douglas and Robert Zemeckis invited Debra Winger out to dinner in the early stages of producing "Romancing the Stone" — and the rendezvous did not go as planned. It started off like a regular ol' dinner should. "We are talking and knocking back some tequilas and this and that," Douglas said on the April 28 episode of the "Literally! With Rob Lowe" podcast (via CNN). Things quickly went south when they left the eatery, though. "We walk out and, just as you would kind of go, 'Oh you!' and give someone a little punch in the arm, you know, like a joke-around, she goes, 'Oh you!' and she reaches over and she bites me — on my arm," Douglas told Lowe.

A playful bite in itself might be strange enough for some, but the sheer force she applied shocked Douglas. "She'[d] broken the skin," he recalled. Douglas said Winger seemed interested in the role, but he immediately had doubts. "I'm thinking 'this could be rough,'" he told Lowe. When Douglas returned to the studio, the actor cried while relaying his experience. 

Winger's unusual joking style aside, she already had a bit of a reputation for being difficult to work with. Throughout the 1980s, Winger feuded with Shirley MacLaine and Richard Gere, both former co-stars. In 1995, Winger left Hollywood. "She liked the work, but not the other stuff. And Hollywood is mostly about the other stuff," a friend told New York Magazine.