Steven Soderbergh on Liberace Biopic: ‘For a Lot of People It’ll Be Hard to See Jason Bourne on Top of Gordon Gekko’


In an interview from Cannes, Steven Soderbergh talks about how and why he got Michael Douglas and Matt Damon involved with his upcoming Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra:

For the life of me I don’t know why I was standing on the set of Traffic in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I looked over at Michael and asked him if he would ever consider playing Liberace. I really don’t know where this came from. I’m old enough to have seen him on TV at my parents’ place, and found him very entertaining. I was kind of intrigued by the incredible technical skill being masked by this flamboyant persona.

On how Matt Damon got involved:

He was in Spain doing his cameo in Che, and I gave him the book. I can only imagine what was going through his mind five years later before we started shooting. But Matt doesn’t have anything to protect. That’s not how he makes his decisions. He makes his decisions based on whether he’s engaged by the piece or not. If it turns out to be something that’s really gonna push him as a performer, even better. And Michael, he was just fearless. They both are. The movie just doesn’t work if they don’t both literally join hands and jump off the cliff. It’s intimate stuff, even if it was a guy and a girl. But for a lot of people it’ll be hard to see Jason Bourne on top of Gordon Gekko.

And how it might resonate:

There’s certainly an undertow to the movie that comes from the knowledge that they could be married today, like Elton John.

Soderbergh also talks about his planned retirement and his past remarks about the film industry.

Read the full interview here.

Check out the trailer HERE and a featurette HERE.


  1. Joseph says

    What he meant to say was “A lot of people will be hard seeing Jason Bourne on top.”

  2. Pete N SFO says

    Do you think we’ll ever hear a director describe a gay actor playing straight as… “fearless”?!

    And this from a guy that presumably, gets-it.


    Why are we still so often asked to co-sign other people’s internalized homophobia? Honestly, straight people can be SOooo EX-hausting! lol

  3. Ray says

    Pete N SFO! I think you’re over stating the case a bit but I sorta agree that it is tiresome to hear str8 directors (fortunately the actors aren’t saying this stuff)talk about daring choices in playing US.

    After all, being an actor is about exploring emotional places being a “star” is about worrying what the public will think about playing a fag.

    If you’re challenged by playing 2 people in love maybe you should become a fishmonger.

  4. jamal49 says

    That’s OK. I’ll find a way to deal with Gordon Gekko getting schtupped by Jason Bourne. Really, I will.

  5. GB says

    The movie will be excellent, not only for the acting but depiction of the time period. And Matt is not a “top” And in this time period, the terms “top” and “bottom” are dated cliches.

  6. Michael Bedwell says

    However entertaining he was on stage, off stage Liberace was a vulturous Chicken Queen, a walking ad for the Antigay Industry; addicted to sex , alcohol and poppers, and just this side of a pedophile. He got Thorson, the character Damon plays [whom he met at 16 and moved in at 17], addicted to drugs, too, by forcing him onto “the Hollywood diet [of] pharmaceutical cocaine, quaaludes, Biphetamine, Demerol,” and coerced him into having his face cut to resemble the old narcissist himself. And after Thorson confronted him about cheating on him with other young guys, Liberace’s thugs maced him, beat him up, and threw him out of the LA penthouse he’d been told he co-owned. Later he was coerced into signing an agreement to give back all the cars, jewelry, etc., he’d been given, and had to go to court to get it back. As for Soderbergh—who only left the porn-film image of a huge penis out because Douglas insisted—I don’t buy his pansy ass whining claim that no distributor would pick it up for theatrical release for a second. After “Brokeback Mountain” proved that GOOD gay films could both earn critical praise and beaucoup bucks, MAYBE they thought this was just a poorly made, unappealing piece of crap with no box office potential because no one under 25 even knows who the hell Liberace was—which most certainly was NOT a gay rights hero like Harvey Milk that such younger people NEED to know about. Publicly, Liberace RUTHLESSLY denied he was gay all his life; and I’ve never read of a SINGLE thing he did for the Movement; not a single dime of his zillions that he diverted from his mega-megalomaniacal conspicuous consumption lifestyle to donate to the fight for equality or even AIDS which, of course, was even lied about on his death certificate. So what will be Sodebergh’s next project [yes, he’s not really quitting films]? Perhaps the touching story of John Wayne Gacy who liked to dress up as “Pogo the Clown” and entertain at children’s parties—when he wasn’t murdering at least 33 males, some as young as 15.

  7. bobbyjoe says

    Steven Soderbergh’s depictions of gays (or often lack thereof) has been pretty dodgy over the years. And when in 2013, the first thing he thinks about when he thinks of same-sex marriage is apparently still “Elton John” (uh, hello, 2005), I’m seriously wondering if he’s the best man for this job. I guess we’ll see.

  8. Sparky says

    The straight artist exploring gay themes seems to be part of the evolution of a heterosexual worldview; in a way it has little to do with gay people except as the subject matter of the moment. I’m thinking of a development beginning with Brokeback Mountain, in which the director, stars, and screenwriters were all straight, but because of theme it was still considered to be a gay movie. I think it’s a good thing, but I think it’s wrong to think of it as a gay thing. It’s more like gay-adjacent.

  9. DannyEastVillage says

    One of the hottest f*cks I ever had was from a skinny, fem, gender-bending perfumed Asian dude with bleached, sprayed hair and a lot of rhinestones. I can still get off thinking about how hot it was when that dude took my b*tt. You boys really, really need to drop these degrading roles (and images) you’ve let media mongers sell to you.

    Oh–and, btw, I WISH TO GOD you’d accept that some men have body hair–and that it can be very, very sexy.