Oscar-nominated actor Matt Damon has revealed that he goes naked in his new film, in which he plays the late entertainer Liberace’s gay lover.
In an interview with Playboy, the 42-year-old star spoke about a few roles with gay themes that he missed out on. He said that he was set to play Josh Brolin’s role in Milk but couldn’t due to scheduling problems with the film Green Zone.
He also said that, at one point, he considered starring in Brokeback Mountain with actor Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Gus Van Sant. The film was eventually shot years later with Ang Lee at the helm and Heath Ledger in the role.
“The right actor got the part. Heath Ledger was magnificent,” commented Damon.
The star also spoke about his latest role; that of Scott Thorson, Liberace’s partner in the made for TV movie Behind the Candelabra, directed by Steven Soderbergh and co-starring Michael Douglas as Liberace.
Damon said that while he’d normally say no to nudity, “I just did a lot of it” in the new film, insisting that it was done “tastefully”.
He went on to talk about the characters in the movie: “These two men were deeply in love and in a real relationship—a marriage—long before there was gay marriage. That’s not an insignificant thing. The script is beautiful and relatable.
“Their conversations when they’re dressing or undressing or having a spat or getting ready for bed? That’s every marriage. It feels like you’re witnessing something really intimate you would normally see with a man and a woman, but instead it’s two men, which was thrilling.”
He added: “There’s stuff I think will make people uncomfortable. Great. It’s HBO—they can change the channel.”
When asked how he and Douglas eased into their roles as gay men, Damon replied: “We both have a lot of gay friends, and we were not going to screw this up or bullshit it. It wasn’t the most natural thing in the world to do, though.
“Like, for one scene, I had to come out of a pool, go over to Michael, straddle him on a chaise longue and start kissing him. And throughout the script, it’s not like I kiss him just once.”
Damon said he had never denied rumours about being gay because “I didn’t want to offend my friends who were gay—as if being gay were some kind of fucking disease.
“But look, there have been great signs of progress—the fact that Anderson Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres can come out so beautifully and powerfully, and it’s a big fucking deal that it turns out nobody gives a shit. If Liberace were alive today, everybody would love his music and nobody would care what he did in his private life. Like with Elton John,” said Damon.
Behind the Candelabra tells the story of the relationship between Liberace, the highest paid entertainer of his era, with Thorson, which began in 1976.
In 1982, after their relationship ended, Thorson filed a $113 million lawsuit against Liberace, who denied being gay until he died. They settled out of court in 1986, with the star giving Thorson $95,000, two cars, and two dogs.