Michael Douglas has asked a New York judge to show mercy on his son due to be sentenced today for drug dealing.
In an emotive letter, the actor told how his family’s fame and history of substance abuse, including his own, helped drive 31-year-old Cameron into crime.
He said: “I love my son, but I’m not blind to his actions. I don’t want to see him break.”
The five-page letter joined others written to the court by Cameron Douglas’s high-profile supporters, including grandfather Kirk Douglas and stepmother Catherine Zeta-Jones.
He was arrested last July at a Manhattan hotel and admitted dealing methamphetamine and cocaine, a charge that carries a mandatory 10 years in prison. But his lawyers are arguing for a shorter sentence.
In the letter, Douglas painted his son’s problems as the product of a privileged but difficult childhood and the long shadow cast by a family of screen icons.
“I have some idea of the pressure of finding your own identity with a famous father,” wrote Douglas. “I’m not sure I can comprehend it with two generations to deal with.”
As the only child of a “bad marriage” between an often absent Michael Douglas and his first wife, Diandra, “Cameron found his family in the gang mentality,” his father wrote. He said his son developed a substance abuse problem at 13, played truant and refused rehab.
Cameron Douglas eventually found some success as a club DJ and got some movie roles, including one in It Runs In The Family, starring his father and grandfather. But he became a heroin addict and, according to his lawyers, began dealing methamphetamine in 2006 to support himself after being cut off from the family fortune because he would not get treatment.
Michael Douglas told in the letter how he was treated at an Arizona clinic for alcohol abuse in the Nineties. He said that his half-brother, Eric Douglas, died in 2004 of an accidental overdose of alcohol and pills after years of struggling with addiction.
Douglas wrote that he has cherished weekly visits to see his son over the past eight months at a Manhattan jail. With his son behind bars but sober, he said: “I get to witness the wonderful young man he can be.”