RSS Feed

TCA: Michael Douglas and Matt Damon get hot and heavy in Liberace bio

Douglas and Damon

GUS RUELAS/REUTERS Michael Douglas, left, and Matt Damon take part in a panel discussion of HBO’s Behind The Candelabra in Pasadena, Calif.

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA—U.S. actor Michael Douglas first got the idea to play the flamboyant pianist Liberace from director Steven Soderbergh more than a decade ago.

Soderbergh was directing Douglas in Traffic at the time.

“Somewhere in the shoot, Steven said, you know, have you ever thought about Liberace? And I looked at him and thought, ‘Is this guy messing with me?’” Douglas said during the annual Winter Press Tour for the Television Critics Association.

Twelve years later, Soderbergh is directing Douglas in HBO’s Behind the Candelabra with Douglas in the starring role and Matt Damon as Liberace’s gay lover Scott Thorson.

Early scenes show the two Hollywood A-list actors getting hot and heavy, with Damon straddling Douglas in one scene.

Damon said he found Douglas “Very, very attractive” in the making of the movie, which also stars Rob Lowe and Dan Aykroyd.

He also got into the clothes in a big way.

“I probably spent more time in the wardrobe fittings on this thing than I had in the previous 15 projects … and I really enjoyed it,” said Damon. “I’ve always been somebody who goes into the wardrobe fitting and I just try to get out as fast as I can.”

When asked what his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones thought about his transformation into a gay icon, Douglas answered: “She said, ‘Where have you been all my life?’” He said to laughter, “She was really excited, really proud about the picture when she saw it.”

Behind the Candelabra is yet another high profile project from HBO, remarkable not only for its subject and casting, but because a cable channel is consistently putting out product that would traditionally be produced by a movie studio.

But Soderbergh said in an interview after the conference that Hollywood directors had trouble figuring out how to market the movie. HBO picked up the torch because it allowed the cable company to “burnish” their brand, he said.

This isn’t the first big screen quality movie that HBO will release in 2013. A biopic of music producer Phil Spector, starring Al Pacino and Helen Mirren, written by David Mamet, will also be released this year. Additionally, HBO announced that director Ryan Murphy will direct The Normal Heart for an upcoming season. Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo will star in the remake of the Tony-winning play about activists during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

Except for a chance encounter, Pacino said he doesn’t remember meeting the hit record producer who was charged in the murder of actress Lana Clarkson and is serving time in prison.

“On the internet, there’s a picture of me and Phil about 20 years ago. We’re standing next to each other, and someone is taking our picture, and we’re both looking into the lens of the camera. And I didn’t even know him.”

Mirren, who plays Spector’s attorney Linda Kenney Baden, said Bette Midler had originally signed on for the role but had to drop out.

“She would have been absolutely brilliant in the role, but unfortunately had to drop out because she had an injury in her neck. She was in too much pain to continue. So I stepped in very late in the day.” – entertainment

None found.