In 1988 flamboyant pianist Liberace’s lover Scott Thorson published a tell-all book entitled Behind The Candelabra: My Life With Liberace. It chronicled Thorson and Liberace’s five-year relationship, which started when Thorson was 17 and ended as a result of Liberace’s sexual promiscuity and Thorson’s drug abuse. Now HBO is allowing television viewers go behind close doors to see how the couple lived, based on Scott Thorson’s autobiography. Directed by famed director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Magic Mike), it also stars two very prominent Academy Award winners.
Stepping into the shoes of the Las Vegas icon Liberace will be 67-year old Michael Douglas and 41-year old Matt Damon will play Thorson. The Daily Mail is reporting both Douglas and Damon were on set in full 1970s garb. Damon had on a pastel yellow-button up shirt with a butterfly collar and polyester khaki trousers, eventually putting on a matching blazer. Douglas donned “Mr. Showmanship’s” large sun glasses, complete with a yellow suit and printed yellow button-up shirt underneath. The actors both wore wigs. There was no sign yet of Liberace’s signature glittery capes or overlong fur coats that came long before Elton John or Lady Gaga.
Production on the movie started on July 16 and will move to Palm Springs on August 20 and eventually to Las Vegas, where Liberace’s fame was embraced. According to TMZ, Douglas and Damon will be shooting for 23 days in Zsa Zsa Gabor and Prince von Anhalt’s Bel Air mansion, currently facing foreclosure. The cast also includes Dan Aykrod as Liberace’s longtime manager who did not approve of his relationship with Thorson; Rob Lowe as the plastic surgeon who worked on Thorson’s face to have him resemble Liberace; and Debbie Reynolds, who will play Liberace’s mom Frances.
Douglas’ wife, Catherine Zeta Jones, recently told Extra he is very much into the character of Liberace and that she found him playing dress-up with her clothes:
“Michael has been in the bedroom and started putting on my diamonds and things. I’m like, “Michael, please take off those pants. Take ‘em off baby. Come on, give me back my rocks.”
Douglas has also become a maestro at the piano in preparation for the role. Adds Zeta-Jones:
“He winks at me while he plays. But I’m sick of having breakfast by the candelabra.
As HBO is usually an Emmy darling, expect to see many nominations for the cast and film next year.