Matt Damon stars in HBO’s eagerly awaited Liberace bio “Behind the Candelabra,” playing the flamboyant pianist’s young lover Scott Thorson to Michael Douglas’ title character. Premiering May 26, the movie is based on Thorson’s memoir of the same name and was directed by Steven Soderbergh from a script by Richard LaGravanese. Both actors are excellent in the story of a relationship’s rise and demise in a milieu of extreme wealth and excess.
Damon based his research on Liberace footage, Thorson’s book, and the script and didn’t feel it was necessary to meet or talk to Thorson. The script contained some explicit intimate scenes as well as nudity, but that didn’t faze Damon. “I didn’t even hesitate. I said yes actually before I saw Richard’s script, because it was Steven,” he says of the director he’s worked with on such films as “Contagion,” “Traffic,” ”The Informant” and the three “Ocean’s” capers.
Damon also underwent physical transformations for the role. “I had prosthetic noses, chins, and cheeks, and then the stuff with the longer wig at the beginning I put plumper’s in my cheeks to make them fatter for when he’s younger. I had never been in a movie where I got changed that much and that many times throughout,” he reflects. Scenes were shot out of sequence on the 34-day production schedule. “One day I had my shirt off and I’m coming out of a swimming pool, and the next day I’m supposed to be overweight. So they did it with padding.”
Matt Damon in 'Behind the Candelabra' (left) and in this summer's upcoming 'Elysium' film.
The period wardrobe took ‘70s and ‘80s fashion to the extreme. “We’d drive around town from set to set and we get some weird looks sometimes,” remembers Damon. “I’ve always been somebody who goes into the wardrobe fitting and I just try to get out as fast as I can,” he confides. “I probably spent more time in the wardrobe fittings on this thing than I had in the previous 15 projects, literally days and days and days. And I really enjoyed it.”
When not acting, Damon is involved with the nonprofit he co-founded, Water.org. The group works to bring potable water to third world areas that don’t have it. “We passed a million people reached with clean water in October. That was a big deal,” he says. “We’ll see how fast we can get to the second million.”