When the Oscar-winning Michael Douglas signed on to star in Chuck Lorre‘s The Kominsky Method, he tells Vanity Fair, he knew it would be tough.

He says of the Netflix show: “One of the reasons I wanted to do it was for comedy, just because I had never done a lot of comedy. It never gets the proper respect it’s due. It’s much more difficult to do than drama.”

Douglas says he had to just let go to make it good: “I like characters, I hide behind characters. This was more of an effort to be truthful to yourself and to trust it. And it’s scary, it was really scary. I was really elated at how it turned out because I had doubts. I thought I was doing nothing. I mean, I’ve worked with Jack Nicholson earlier and other people—they do nothing. It’s internalized and they just react. They listen and they react.”

He also says of his determination to work with people who aren’t jerks: “Look, this is an extraordinary industry that compensates you very well and entertains people. I just don’t have any patience for people who are so self-centered, either in front of the camera or behind the camera, they make it difficult for other people. I picked this up from Paul Newman. I remember, he always cast high. He was never worried or afraid of being upstaged. He wanted the best actors possible in whatever roles. And I’ve always adhered to that philosophy, only adding to the fact that you can be good, but you don’t have to be a d***head. And as you get older, you have to make more choices. When you’re younger, you sort of let life kind of flow and let it happen to you and enjoy it. But as you get older, you’ve got to make how you want to choose to spend your time.”