Matt Damon in Behind The Candelabra
Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh has revealed that Hollywood studios refused to back his biopic of legendary entertainer Liberace because the story was “too gay” for cinema audiences.
The film, Behind The Candelabra, starring Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover Scott Thorson, will instead be screened on the HBO television network in the US.
“Nobody would make it,” Soderbergh told The Wrap. “We went to everybody in town. We needed $5 million. Nobody would do it. They said it was too gay. Everybody.”
He added: “This is 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.”
Behind the Candelabra tells the story of the relationship between pianist 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.
In a recent interview with Playboy, Damon spoke about the film, commenting: “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.”
Soderbergh – who is known for making films such as Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven and Magic Mike – went on to say: “Studios were going, ‘We don’t know how to sell it.’ They were scared.”
Behind the Candelabra will premiere at Cannes in May and will also be broadcast in the US that some month. It is possible that it could be screened in cinemas in some countries outside of the US.