Michael Douglas Reflects on Benjamin Franklin’s Legacy and Current State of US Democracy

Source: Michael Buckner

Michael Douglas is an American actor and producer with quite a long list of awards, including two Academy Awards, five Golden Globe awards, and a Primetime Emmy Award amongst other accolades. 

According to actor and producer Michael Douglas, who plays Benjamin Franklin in a new Apple TV+ mini series, one of America’s most famous historical figures would be “highly disappointed” with the country today. 

Show Depicts How Fragile Democracy Is

“The show was a great reminder for me about how fragile democracy is,” Douglas told Variety Magazine during a press conference in Cannes, France, on Wednesday. 

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“And I think that Ben would be highly, highly disappointed in the distortion of either a republic or democracy that the United States has become. I hope that this upcoming election will be a cathartic experience for the United States and turn the page onto a new chapter.”

“Franklin” Series Debuts On Friday

The “Franklin” series is scheduled to make its debut on the Apple TV+ platform on Friday. The series is based on Pulitzer Prize-winner Stacy Schiff’s 2005 novel, “A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America.” 

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It tells the story of the eight years Franklin spent in France to convince the country to underwrite America’s democracy.

Press Release From Apple TV+

“The eight-year French mission stands as Franklin’s most vital service to his country, without which America could not have won the Revolution,” a press release from Apple TV+ read.

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“Diplomats and historians still regard it as the greatest single tour of duty by an ambassador in our nation’s history,” it continued. 

Douglas Expresses Gratitude To France

During Wednesday’s press briefing, that link to France popped up during the discussion, according to Variety. They noted that Douglas appreciated the country for their willingness to support America in its fight to gain independence from Britain. 

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He also expressed his gratitude for the experiences he had while producing the series in France.

The Least We Could Do

“I know for myself and a lot of the producers involved, the least we could do is come back and say ‘Thank you, France,’” he said.

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“Thank you first for saving America — reminding everybody of that story and how important the role France played — and thank you for just a wonderful, wonderful production experience.”

Douglas Reflects On Cannes: Memories And Secrets Hidden In City’s Walls

Douglas, returning to Cannes for the second year in a row with the premiere of “Franklin,” had previously received an honorary Palme d’Or at the festival. Reflecting on his time in the glamorous Riviera town, he hinted at the many tales he could share in the future and the secrets locked up in the city, waiting to be unveiled.

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“I’ve been here for many, many, many years,” Douglas said. “Many stories I’ll have to tell after I die. If these walls could talk — wonderful memories and great experiences.”

Not Many People Know Of Franklin’s Story

Star of the Horror/sci-fi, “A Quiet Place” Noah Jupe, who also played the role of Franklin’s grandson Temple in this miniseries, said that he was surprised that not much is known about the story of Franklin’s journey to France in the age of 70 to seek for King Louis XVI’s help in the United States’s achieving independence.

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“Everyone sort of knows about who Benjamin Franklin is,” said Jupe, who joined Douglas along with the rest of the cast at the press conference in Cannes. “I think we’ve all seen a $100 bill. [His] whole experience was so vital to the American Revolution but yet, at the same time, I don’t think many people know about it.”

Beaumarchais: Writer, Inventor, Political Agitator, Musician, And Spy

Assaad Bouab, famous for his roles in “Call My Agent” and “Bad Sisters”, is part of the mostly French cast. He plays Beaumarchais, a supporter of Franklin. Beaumarchais, an 18th-century Frenchman, wore many hats. According to Bouab, he was not only an inventor and political agitator but also a writer, musician, and spy for the king.

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“He was such an incredible character,” Bouab added. “And when he felt there was this door open to fight for freedom and do everything he could to send arms to help Benjamin Franklin and the province of the United States to have their independence, he did it.”

Who Was Benjamin Franklin?

Benjamin Franklin was a key figure in shaping America’s democracy during the 18th century. Born in 1706, Franklin was not only a founding father but also a renowned polymath, diplomat, scientist, inventor, and writer.

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One of Franklin’s notable contributions to American democracy was his role in drafting the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Alongside Thomas Jefferson and others, Franklin helped articulate the principles of individual liberty, equality, and self-governance that became the foundation of American democracy.

Franklin’s Diplomatic Works

Franklin was also instrumental in negotiating the Treaty of Paris in 1783, which ended the Revolutionary War and secured American independence from British rule. As a diplomat, he skillfully represented American interests in Europe, building crucial alliances and securing vital support for the fledgling nation.

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In December 1776, Franklin famous around the world for his electrical experiments and success had to embark on a secret mission to France where his passion and power were put to the test when the fate of American independence hung delicately in the balance. 

A Key Player In America’s Political System

At 70 years old and without any formal diplomatic training, Benjamin Franklin persuaded an absolute monarchy to support America’s democratic experiment. Through his fame, charm, and cleverness, Franklin outsmarted British spies, French informants, and unfriendly colleagues to arrange the Franco-American alliance of 1778 and the peace treaty with England in 1783.

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In addition to his diplomatic efforts, Franklin played a pivotal role in shaping the American political system. He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, where he contributed his wisdom and experience to the drafting of the United States Constitution. 

His Role In Creating A Unified Government

Franklin’s advocacy for compromise and consensus-building helped bridge the divides between the various factions and regions, leading to the creation of a more unified and stable government.

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Furthermore, Franklin’s philosophical writings, such as his “Autobiography” and “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” promoted the values of hard work, thrift, and civic virtue, which were essential to the success of America’s democratic experiment.

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Mary Scrantin

Written by Mary Scrantin

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