The first official image from director Steven Soderbergh’s much anticipated Behind The Candelabra starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas has arrived.
The television biopic tells the story of the late entertainer Wladziu Valentino Liberace — widely known simply as Liberace — and his five-year relationship with his lover Scott Thornson.
In it, Michael Douglas plays Liberace and Matt Damon plays Thorson.
Behind The Candelabra will also trace the couple’s struggle with homophobia, their descent into tabloid acrimony, and Liberace’s battle with AIDS-related pneumonia, which resulted in his death at the age of 67 in 1987.
If anyone is expecting a camp, matinee treatment that pokes self-aware “side-eyes” at the two men, however, they will be in for a rude awakening.
Reuters reports that, when Douglas spoke at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, California in January, he called Liberace and Thorson’s relationship “a great love story.”
At the same event, Soderbergh spoke of Behind The Candelabra’s difficult journey to the small screen, revealing:
“They [Hollywood studios] said it was too gay. Everybody. 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.”
Assuring any concerns that Behind the Candelabra could be a “caricature” piece, the Haywire, Erin Brockovich, Traffic helmer added:
“We weren’t giggling about it. These were people’s lives. We wanted to get it right.”
Soderbergh eventually found welcoming arms at HBO for the biopic which is set to screen in May [Indiewire notes there is no air date yet], after a highly likely Cannes Film Festival premiere.
Behind The Candelabra stars Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Paul Reiser, Dan Aykroyd, Rob Lowe, and Debbie Reynolds.