Michael Douglas has claimed he heard angels singing when he almost drowned as a student.

The 73-year-old actor - who is married to Catherine Zeta-Jones - was swimming in the ocean when he was studying at the University of California when he got into serious trouble in the water and almost died.

Luckily, the Hollywood legend was rescued but says he saw a ''white light'' as he ''faced death'' and he could hear heavenly voices around him.

Speaking to the USA Today newspaper about the experience, he recalled: ''I did hear angels singing, saw a white light and then a relaxation came over me as I faced death.''

Douglas made the confession whilst discussing his latest movie 'Flatliners' - which follows on from the cult 1990 horror movie of the same name about a group of medical students who undertake clandestine experiments to produce near death experiences resulting in terrifying consequences for all.

Although he has had his own near-death experience, Douglas doesn't believe there is an after-life, as described by the world's main religions and instead believes the phenomenon he witnessed is a natural part of the process of dying.

He said: ''I think we have a mechanism in our brain that takes over and makes it easier to accept the inevitable during the process of dying.''

Douglas - who has beaten tongue cancer - produced the new remake, which stars Ellen Page, Nina Dobrev and Diego Luna, and sees Kiefer Sutherland reprise his role as Nelson Wright from the original film.