Michael Douglas walks the red carpet for the Germany premiere of his latest movie "Behind the Candelabra" based on the life of Liberace.
BERLIN, GERMANY (SEPTEMBER 2, 2013) (REUTERS) - The HBO movie "Behind the Candelabra," based on the life of pianist Liberace, throws the spotlight on gay rights, especially with a star-studded cast including Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover.
The biopic dazzled at the Cannes film festival earlier this year and took the Emmy Awards nomination by storm.
Scott Thorson (Damon), a young bisexual man raised in foster homes, is introduced to the flamboyant entertainment giant Liberace (Douglas) and quickly finds himself in a romantic relationship with the legendary pianist.
Swaddled in wealth and excess, Scott and Liberace have a long affair, one that eventually Scott begins to find suffocating. Kept away from the outside world by the flashily effeminate yet deeply closeted Liberace, and submitting to extreme makeovers and even plastic surgery at the behest of his lover, Scott eventually rebels. When Liberace finds himself a new lover, Scott is tossed on the street.
Director Steven Soderbergh said he struggled to secure funding for 'Behind the Candelabra' because some financiers thought the film would only appeal to a gay audience and, at a cost of $25 million, would be a financial risk.
But when he convinced Douglas playing Liberace and Damon as Thorson the risk was minimized and the financing was secured.
Douglas, whose performance as the primped, toupeed pianist was lauded by critics, said he met Liberace once, in a Rolls Royce convertible while in Palm Springs with his father.
For Douglas, an Oscar winner for 1987's Wall Street, it's his first starring role since he was diagnosed with and successfully treated for throat cancer in 2010.
A role that is a far cry from his normal tough guy image, but he enjoyed every minutes of it, as he told Reuters in Berlin.
"The magic of Liberace was how much he enjoyed performing for people," he said at the German premiere of the movie. "So once you got the wigs and the hair and the costumes worked out and everything, it was developing that inner joy of loving what you do. ... So I think that essence was the toughest thing to get."
Douglas and Damon said they did not hesitate to take the roles as they were both keen to work with Soderbergh who has announced his plan to retire from film making after this movie.
They were both also impressed by the script based on Thorson's autobiography, 'Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace', that was released in 1988, a year after the entertainer's death at age 67 from an AIDS-related disease.
After his battle with cancer, Douglas now has a different one on his hands.
Last Wednesday (August 28) People magazine reported that Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones have separated in what could spell the end of their nearly 13-year marriage.
Douglas and Zeta-Jones, both Oscar winners and among Hollywood's most high-profile couples, have in recent months vacationed separately, appeared at red carpet events without the other and are ostensibly living apart, the magazine said in its new issue, citing "two close confidants" of the couple.
Douglas, 68, and Zeta-Jones, 43, married in 2000 and have two children. Both have struggled with health issues in recent years.
The A-list couple decided to spend time apart shortly after Douglas returned from the Cannes Film Festival in France in May, where his Emmy-nominated movie about Liberace, "Behind the Candelabra," was screened.
They first met in 1998 at the Deauville Film Festival in France, began dating the following year, got engaged on New Year's Eve of 1999 and co-starred in the 2000 release "Traffic."
'Behind the Candelabra' will be shown at cinemas in Germany on October