“Behind the Candelabra,” the story of Liberace and Scott Thurson, is presented by HBO Films, premiering on Sunday, May 26, 2013, according to a press release from HBO. The film stars Academy Award winners Michael Douglas and Matt Damon and co-stars Dan Aykroyd, Scott Bakula, Rob Lowe, Tom Papa,Paul Reiser and Debbie Reynolds. “Behind the Candelabra” was executive produced by Emmy winner Jerry Weintraub and directed by Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh from a script by Oscar nominee Richard LaGravenese.
“I don’t give concerts. I put on a show.”
Before such flamboyant stars as Elvis, Elton John, Madonna and Lady Gaga, there was Liberace, a talented pianist and entertainer well known for draping himself in elaborate fur capes and sparkling crystals. Liberace was a popular star of stage and television with fans across the country.
Liberace (Michael Douglas) was a virtuoso piano player known for his flamboyant style and lavish lifestyle. The performer was famous for his showmanship and had a long career in entertainment that spanned over 40 years.
From the 1950s to the 1970s, Liberace was the highest-paid entertainer in the world, according to information from HBO. His concerts, recordings, motion pictures, TV appearances and endorsements spawned a huge, primarily female, fan base. It was a time when celebrities were gay only in private and a public persona had to be protected. To protect his image, Liberace presented himself as hetrosexual.
Liberace met hunky younger man Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) in Las Vegas in 1977. The two secretly became a couple involved in a relationship that lasted for about five years. Liberace wanted to be everything to his young lover. The couple was snuggling in bed when Liberace said, “I want to be everything to you, Scott. I want to be father, brother, lover, best friend. Everything. You know I love you. . . . Maybe all those years, all those foster homes, maybe I’m your real family.”
Thorsen worked as Liberace’s chauffeur and constant companion. Liberace had plastic surgeon Dr. Jack Starz (Rob Lowe) change Thorsen’s face so he could resemble the star and they could look like family.
Like many relationships, the romance lost its luster and Thorson sued Liberace for palimony. Liberace denied that he was gay or that they had been lovers.
This was one of the things that attracted Weintraub to the material. “I wanted to make a film to show how we’ve grown,” says Weintraub, “to show the progression of our human race, of our country, of all the people in the world about this subject. Same-sex unions are recognized now and permitted in certain places. Being gay has lost its social stigma.”
The cast of “Behind the Candleabra” includes: Michael Douglas as Liberace, Matt Damon as Scott Thorsen, Dan Aykroyd as Seymour Heller, Scott Bakula as Bob Black, Rob Lowe as Dr. Jack Starz, Tom Papa as Ray Arnett, Paul Reiser as Mr. Felder and Debbie Reynolds as Francis Liberace.
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