HBO's Liberace film aims to humanize through love story

Fri Jan 4, 2013 10:24pm EST
 

By Lisa Richwine

PASADENA, California (Reuters) - Michael Douglas takes on larger-than-life entertainer Liberace as he plays the singer in an HBO film about a secret love affair in the 1970s that Douglas on Friday called "a great love story."

Director Steven Soderbergh said he chose to tell Liberace's story through the lens of his romance with Scott Thorson - a young man who walked into the singer's Las Vegas dressing room in the summer of 1977 - in part to expand public perception beyond his outsized personality and lavish lifestyle.

"I was very anxious that we not make a caricature of either of their characters or the relationship," Soderbergh told reporters at a meeting of the Television Critics Association.

"The discussions they're having are discussions every couple has. We take the relationship very seriously," he said.

The film called "Beyond the Candelabra" debuts this spring on Time Warner Inc-owned HBO. It is based on Thorson's book of the same name about their relationship, which ended in a bitter breakup. Matt Damon plays Thorson.

The idea for the film was budding 12 years ago, when Soderbergh and the "Wall Street" actor were working on the 2000 movie "Traffic." Soderbergh randomly asked Douglas if he had ever thought of playing Liberace.

Douglas said he thought "is this guy messing with me?," but launched into an impersonation that stuck with Soderbergh years later when he began envisioning the Liberace film.

The movie depicts "a great love story," Douglas said.   Continued...

 
Actor Michael Douglas takes part in a panel discussion of HBO's "Behind The Candelabra" during the 2013 Winter Press Tour for the Television Critics Association in Pasadena, California, January 4, 2013. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas