There are many reasons to be super-excited about tonight’s premiere of HBO’s Behind the Candelabra. It’s directed by Steven Soderbergh, who can do no wrong in our book; it’s about Liberace, whose outrageous, extravagant and — irony of ironies — closeted life story is made-for-MOTW melodrama; and almost best of all, it’s got Matt Damon in it.
Matt plays the boyfriend, or husband (not sure, have to wait until Sunday for the specifics — so excited!) and if the rumors and tabloid headlines and court docs and book excerpts are any indication, the relationship, like everything else in Liberace’s world, was Las Vegas-styled over-the-top, including his and his “let’s look more alike” plastic surgeries. Awesome.
After starring as a bisexual sociopath in The Talented Mr. Ripley in 1999, Damon guested on Will & Grace three years later and further cemented his relationship with his gay audience. In that episode he played a straight guy pretending to be a gay guy so he could sing in the Gay Men’s Chorus, which leads Jack to “in” him with Grace’s help on the couch, and this classic exchange:
Jack: Uh, excuse me. As Aretha said to Gloria, Celine, Shania, and Mariah during Divas Live: “Are you trippin’? No one interrupts the Queen of Soul, bitch. OK?”
Owen: Well, I believe she also said, “Hey, Cuba, Canada, cowgirl, Crazy, get out of my light and away from my snacks, bitch.”
In honor of tonight’s premiere, here are some other adorable and thoughtful things Matt’s said, in and out of character.
– On his love scenes with Behind the Candelabra co-star Michael Douglas: “Michael was a wonderful kisser.” (Playboy, 12/12)
– As Tom Ripley, who destroys the thing he loves most, in The Talented Mr. Ripley: “You’re the brother I never had. I’m the brother you never had. I would do anything for you, Dickie.”
– Recalling advice that would come in handy for his work in Behind the Candelabra: “I remember asking Heath Ledger after Brokeback Mountain, ‘How’d you do that scene with Jake?’— meaning the scene where they start ferociously kissing. He said, ‘Well, mate, I drank a half case of beer in my trailer.’ I started laughing, and he goes, ‘No, I’m serious. I needed to just go for it. If you can’t do that, you’re not making the movie.’” (Playboy)
– On why charity should be an important part of everyone’s life, in an editorial for Parade Magazine: ”When your great-great-grandkids study history, don’t you want them to be proud that you were part of the solution?” (Parade Magazine, 10/09)
– On how relatable the love story in Behind the Candelabra really is: “These two men were deeply in love and in a real relationship—a marriage—long before there was gay marriage. That’s not an insignificant thing. The script is beautiful and relatable. Their conversations when they’re dressing or undressing or having a spat or getting ready for bed? That’s every marriage. It feels like you’re witnessing something really intimate you would normally see with a man and a woman, but instead it’s two men, which was thrilling.” (Playboy)
– With David Letterman, explaining a prank gone wrong at the Venice Film Festival: ”So this Italian journalist comes in and goes, ‘Matt, is it true what Brad say?’ And I have no idea what he is talking about, but of course, I go, ‘Yeah, it’s true.’ And he says, ‘Do you mean George Clooney have a boyfriend?’ And now I’m trying to keep a straight face and I go, ‘Yeah, of course he’s got a boyfriend. And he wants to legally marry him. We’ve been on him about this for years…’ ”
– Explaining how awkward those Ben Affleck rumors were, but not for the reason you’d think: “I never denied those rumors because I was offended and didn’t want to offend my friends who were gay — as if being gay were some kind of fucking disease. It put me in a weird position in that sense. The whole thing was just gross. But look, there have been great signs of progress — the fact that Anderson Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres can come out so beautifully and powerfully, and it’s a big fucking deal that it turns out nobody gives a shit. If Liberace were alive today, everybody would love his music and nobody would care what he did in his private life. Like with Elton John.” (Playboy)
And a couple of bonus quotes from our favorite FoMs:
– Ben Affleck, speaking to a LGBT audience at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston: ”A reception like that just makes me want to take my shirt off and dance… You know… my partner and I, Matt Damon, have done more for raising the profile and awareness for gay men in this city than anyone in the last 10 years.”
– Steven Soderbergh, on why Behind the Candelabra will be great for some people, gross for others: “For a lot of people it’ll be hard to see Jason Bourne on top of Gordon Gekko.” (The Hollywood Reporter, 5/14/13)