Michael Douglas says Debra Winger bit him, ‘broke skin’ while in talks for ‘Romancing the Stone’

·2 min read

She took a bite out of romance.

Michael Douglas this week revealed why Debra Winger lost out on starring in “Romancing the Stone” — a role that ended up going to Kathleen Turner.

“She was the studio’s first choice,” the two-time Oscar winner, 77, recalled on the “Literally! With Rob Lowe” podcast.

Douglas said he and director Robert Zemeckis met with the actress, now 66, while she was working on “Terms of Endearment” and “was spending her time in the hospital, because she plays terminally ill in the picture. So she was doing method work, I guess.”

“She comes on out for us to have a dinner one night and we all have dinner together and we’re talking and knocking back some tequilas, and this and that, and we walk out,” said Douglas. “And just as you would kind of go, ‘Oh, you’ give somebody a little punch in the arm, like joking around. She goes, ‘Oh, you,’ and she reaches over and she bites me on my arm. ‘Aah! Aah!’ Bites me, like really bites me.”

Douglas said that while Winger’s bite was clearly in jest, he was turned off.

“I go, ‘I don’t know, man,’” he said. “I’m thinking, ‘This could be rough.’ And she seems interested. And I go back, she’s broken the skin, all that.”

When the “Wall Street” star and “Forrest Gump” director, 69, met with the studio again, Douglas said: “I break down in tears and say, ‘I can’t go to the jungle with her. Look, she bit me. She bit me in the arm. I can’t do it. ... It’s just not worth it.’”

One of the executives then suggested Turner, 67, for the female lead, as she’d just starred in “Body Heat” and they were living near one another.

The suggestion ended up being a fateful one. Following the 1984 release of “Romancing the Stone” — which also starred Danny DeVito — Douglas and Turner went on to star opposite each other in DeVito’s “The War of the Roses” five years later.