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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 28, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 04
Michael Douglas to play Liberace
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Michael Douglas to play Liberace

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Michael Douglas, who just won a very public battle with throat cancer, is taking a turn from his usual roles to play the lead in a film biography of the campy musical entertainer Liberace. Director Steven Soderbergh confirmed that Matt Damon has signed on to play Liberace's longtime lover.

'We've already done some costume and wardrobe tests on Michael, and they're very, very, very good,' Soderbergh said. 'I swear to you, Michael amazed me. He crushed it.'

At his height, Liberace made more money than Elvis or The Beatles. The flamboyant, piano-playing Liberace - nicknamed 'Mr. Showmanship' and 'Glitter Man' - was a staple of early 1950s television, and was an institution in Las Vegas until his death from AIDS in 1987.

'It's just nice to play a nice guy after playing all the villains,' Douglas said about the role. 'Part of Liberace's charm - yes, his piano playing was wonderful - but people kind of inherently just picked up on his joy and graciousness, on how much fun he was having.'

Matt Damon, says Soderbergh, will portray Scott Thorsen, the assistant/boyfriend whose 1982 palimony suit for $110 million publicly outed the entertainer.

Douglas joked with Extra TV about how he and Damon will prepare for their kissing scenes. 'Every once in a while we send little e-mails back to each other and ask, 'What flavor ChapStick do you wear?' said Douglas.

Douglas did say he thought Damon was brave to play this role.

'He's got a great attitude about it and very brave on his part,' he said. 'I'm not sure in the prime of my career, I would necessarily be jumping and diving into this role. It's a bold choice, but he makes bold choices. One of the things I admire about him is how he mixes up his commercial Bourne films, for instance, with ones that he feels are from the heart. He's probably done that better than anyone.'

Winning his battle against throat cancer has taught the 66-year-old to 'slow down and savor the moment.' The film had been postponed while Douglas underwent treatment.

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