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Blockbuster producer Jerry Bruckheimer has worked with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, but there are still a few well-known actors who’ve never collaborated professionally with the producer, including Michael Douglas, Sigourney Weaver and Claire Danes, who all showed up to a star-studded party at New York’s Monkey Bar Wednesday night to celebrate Bruckheimer’s 40 years as a filmmaker.
In a speech, Douglas praised Bruckheimer’s career, humility and work ethic.
“Jerry is probably one of the greatest movie producers that has ever lived — bar none,” Douglas said. “Now, you combine that with being one of the greatest television producers, and I don’t think there’s anybody who’s accomplished what you have in both areas. Beyond that, he happens to be one of the most humble men that I have ever known.”
Douglas went on to explain how even on vacations with Bruckheimer’s wife, Linda, some of which Douglas has gone on as well, the producer is still working on scripts, even on a boat or treadmill.
Bruckheimer seemed impressed by the praise. “I’ve received a lot of compliments in my career but never from someone like Michael Douglas, who’s not only a great actor, but a great producer,” he told the crowd during his turn at the microphone.
Not only does Bruckheimer still get compliments, more of which other friends and colleagues were happy to dish out, but he also still takes advice.
When The Hollywood Reporter asked the legendary producer if he advises or gives tips to David Ellison, the producer-financier with whom he’s working on a Top Gun sequel at Paramount, Bruckheimer was quick to respond, “He gives me advice.”
Although late director Tony Scott was instrumental in the development of the Top Gun sequel, Bruckheimer has indicated that the project is still moving forward. He told THR as much.
“[Tony Scott] really helped us resolve some things,” Bruckheimer said of the movie. “We’re trying to resurrect it.”
Bruckheimer recently moved to Paramount after he ended his nearly 20-year relationship with Disney, which also included the creation of the photo-heavy coffee table book the party was celebrating, When Lighting Strikes, written by longtime collaborator Michael Singer.
But the producer said it wasn’t bittersweet that his former studio asked him to create a book about his projects for them, because the book covers his work at almost every studio.
He added that he’s made TV shows for all of the big networks, which is what he said has made him interested in doing a TV series for Netflix, confirming to THR that he’s had discussions with the streaming service about such a project.
Bruckheimer also seemed unfazed by Netflix’s model of releasing every episode of their series at once, saying “That’s how people watch it now … Netflix is great for content creators, and that’s what we are.”
Josh Lucas, who worked with Bruckheimer on the 2006 film Glory Road, said that although Bruckheimer is “elusive and mysterious,” he has a lot of heart and integrity.
“He’s a deeply soulful man who has real artistic, not just integrity, but power and knowledge, and why he’s had the profound career he’s had is just clear-cut to me after working with him,” Lucas said. “I felt such a sense of not just respect, but a profound sense of being treated as an equal. Oftentimes, producers at that level are exactly the opposite.”
Lucas added that the celebration was almost like a reunion of Bruckheimer’s friends and colleagues.
Hugh Dancy, who worked with Bruckheimer on Black Hawk Down, Confessions of a Shopaholic and King Arthur, said the producer brings a fan’s perspective to the set.
“Usually, he’s there followed by an assistant carrying about eight cameras, and he’s just taking photos of this world that he created,” Dancy told THR. “I guess what he has is the ability to look at the movies like the people who are going to see them.”
Dancy added that Bruckheimer is “somebody who can hold projects of such enormous scope and ambition in his head and still have a preternatural attention to detail. And I’ve never worked with anybody who comes close to that.”
The actor said he’d want to work with Bruckheimer again if an opportunity to do so arose, adding “What kind of fool would say no to that question?”
Bruckheimer friend Sigourney Weaver, who’s never worked with the producer, said she’d “love to work with him” and that it wouldn’t surprise her if it happened — after she finishes the three Avatar films she’s set to start making next year, she noted.
Another Bruckheimer friend on hand was CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield, who explained that she met the producer at an event 13 years ago after she got back from Afghanistan, and was taken aback when Bruckheimer said he was a fan of her work and had followed her reporting in Afghanistan.
“I just remember thinking it’s so rare when you meet a Hollywood titan and the first thing they do is talk about you, not themselves,” Banfield said. “I was so refreshed and so inspired. And pretty much ever since then, so in awe, even more than I was before, of Jerry.”
Also in awe was Belle star Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who was there as a Bruckheimer fan.
“I feel like I’ve grown up watching his movies,” Mbatha-Raw said. “What an epic career. Just the scale of the things he does and his longevity is really impressive.”
Mbatha-Raw was also impressed to learn he produced Flashdance, which choreographer Laurieann Gibson told her to check out as part of her research for her upcoming role in Blackbird.
Other boldfaced names at the Peggy Siegal-hosted bash included fellow co-host Blaine Trump, CBS CEO Les Moonves, Sony Pictures Classics co-president Tom Bernard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bridget Moynahan, Kyle MacLachlan, Shep Gordon, CBS This Morning‘s Gayle King and Today‘s Hoda Kotb.