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Douglas’s gray hair was combed straight back from his face in a kind of lion’s mane, and he was dressed in head-to-toe black.
The brightness of the day was streaming in from the windows, which had the effect of backlighting: Between the silver hair, the dark clothes, and the naturally cinematic setting, Douglas looked like someone accustomed to the spotlight.
Interestingly, they forgot that Liberace’s own audience in the fifties and sixties was not gay.
It was purple-haired ladies who loved his act—he knew how to take the audience upside down, sideways, and backward.
Liberace talked directly to the camera—he was the first person to do that.
The movie was going to receive an X for “a penis inserted into a guy’s behind,” said Weintraub.
“The studio was afraid to put it out, but it made them a fantastic amount of money.” Neither Weintraub nor Soderbergh gave up: For reasons that he can’t explain, Soderbergh had been interested in Liberace as a topic for years, and while they were on the set of Traffic in 2000, he had asked Michael Douglas about playing him.
For Liberace, who sued a London newspaper and won when it insinuated about his sexuality, revealing his lust for men would have been, in his mind, career suicide.
The movie, which isn’t really a biography, is the story of Liberace’s life with Scott Thorson, a naïve 18-year-old (perfectly played by Matt Damon with wide-eyed innocence mixed with the entitlement of youth) who was Liberace’s live-in boyfriend for five years.
“Everybody loved the script [by Richard La Gravenese, based on Scott Thorson’s memoir of his life with Liberace],” said Jerry Weintraub, the veteran producer who worked with Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra and knew Liberace.