Matt Damon has been given high praise by his Michael Douglas, his co-star in HBO’s highly anticipiated Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra.
Speaking at a Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour in Pasadena, Calif. on Friday, Douglas said:
“I don’t think I would have had the courage at that point in my career to take this on.”
The 68-year-old veteran actor called the upcoming film that revisits the life of flamboyant concert pianist Liberace and his secret relationship with his one-time live-in lover Scott Thorson “a great love story,” Reuters reports.
According to Indiewire, buzz about the Steven Soderbergh directed biopic that stars Damon as Thorson and Douglas as Liberace, is rising ahead of its Cannes Film Festival premiere before it screens on HBO.
At the same event, Soderbergh revealed that Hollywood studios unanimously rejected the project.
“They said it was too gay. Everybody,” said the director. “This was after Brokeback Mountain, by the way. Which is not as funny as this movie. I was stunned. It made no sense to any of us.”
The Haywire, Erin Brockovich, Traffic helmer was keen to state that Behind the Candelabra is no “caricature” piece.
“We take the relationship seriously,” said Soderbergh. “We weren’t giggling about it. These were people’s lives. We wanted to get it right.”
“It’s unfortunate to see the movie through a contemporary lens and know they were not allowed to be as open back then as people are today.”
That’s not to say the actors didn’t have fun during filming. Damon joked that he “probably spent more time in wardrobe fittings than I have on the previous 15 projects,” the Hollywood Reporter notes.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the biopic will trace the arc of Thorson’s five-year relationship with Liberace and the entertainer’s later battle with AIDS-related pneumonia, which resulted in his death at the age of 67 in 1987.
Thorson and Liberace began their relationship in 1976. After a childhood spent in foster care, Thorson subsequently appeared in Liberace’s lavish stage shows and traveled the world with his benefactor.
When the relationship soured — allegedly due to Liberace’s promiscuity and Thorson’s struggle with substance abuse — the goodwill between the two men ended and Thorson sued Liberace after he was allegedly thrown out of the showman’s home.
In 1982, Thorson filed a $113 million palimony lawsuit against Liberace. Widely reported on at the time, the pair settled out of court four years later.
The pair reconciled on Liberace‘s death bed and Thorson’s book Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace was published a year later.
Behind the Candelbra premieres on HBO in May and also stars Paul Reiser, Dan Aykroyd, Rob Lowe, and Debbie Reynolds.
[Note: Although cited as Behind the Candelabra in the majority of outlets, the biopic has also been referred to as Beyond the Candelabra.]