Soderbergh: I want the movie to be sincere, and I want it to be accurate. Now it may be both those things, and it still might be used as a hammer by someone. It’s almost like with Che: I was ready to be attacked, but I didn’t want to be attacked for being historically inaccurate. At the same time, you have to step back and say it’s just a relationship movie. It just happens to be two guys. I could argue that it’s more interesting for it to be two guys because the world they occupy is so strange.
Because of the period? Because of the closet?
Yeah. That specific aspect of show business at that time was just so weird. Liberace was living in the era when he had to hide that part of his life. It would have been career-ending. It’s sad. But now he wouldn’t have to worry about it. You could argue if there had been no Liberace, would we have the Elton John that we have? But my job pictorially is just to figure out how to shoot all these Jacuzzi scenes.
Damon and Soderbergh have paired up again, for a movie about Liberace. It stars Michael Douglas as the entertainer famously described as a "sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love", in an article that led him to sue for libel, claiming it falsely accused him of being homosexual. Damon plays a lover who, feeling wronged, outs Liberace to the media. Hamlisch, the piano man, was the obvious choice to write the score.
"I'm not sure people knew how brilliant a pianist Liberace was," he says. "All the costumes that made him a star stopped people from listening to his playing. You can't take away that incredible talent.