Behind the Candelabra is a 2013 American biographical drama film directed by Steven Soderbergh. It dramatizes the last ten years in the life of pianist Liberace and the relationship he had with Scott Thorson. It is based on Thorson's memoir, Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace (1988). Richard LaGravenese wrote the screenplay. Jerry Weintraub was the executive producer. It premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival on May 21, 2013 and competed for the Palme d'Or. It aired on HBO on May 26, 2013 and was given a cinematic release in the United Kingdom on June 7, 2013. The film received critical acclaim from television critics including praise for the performances of Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.
|Behind the Candelabra|
Television release poster
|Directed by||Steven Soderbergh|
|Produced by||Gregory Jacobs|
|Screenplay by||Richard LaGravenese|
|Based on||Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace|
by Scott Thorson
|Music by||Marvin Hamlisch|
|Edited by||Mary Ann Bernard|
|Box office||$13.4 million (foreign)|
In 1977, 18-year-old Scott Thorson (Matt Damon), who works as an animal trainer for films, meets Bob Black (Scott Bakula), a Hollywood producer, in a gay bar in Los Angeles. At Black's urging, he leaves his adopted home in search of better-paying work. Black introduces Thorson to Liberace (Michael Douglas), who takes an immediate liking to the handsome younger man. Liberace invites the two backstage and then to his luxurious home in Las Vegas. Thorson observes that one of Liberace's beloved dogs is suffering from a temporary form of blindness, and with his veterinary assistant background, informs the famous pianist that he knows how to cure the condition. After treating the dog, Thorson becomes Liberace's "assistant" at the performer's request. Thorson also becomes employed as Liberace's stage chauffeur, driving a Rolls-Royce limousine onto the stage for Liberace's grand entrances.
Thorson moves in with Liberace and becomes his lover. At this point, Thorson says that he is bisexual because he is also attracted to women. Liberace is sympathetic, informing him that he wanted and tried to love women, but was exclusively attracted to men. He relates a story of a "divine healing" in which a "messenger" informed him that God still loved him.
It gradually becomes clear that Liberace is trying to mold Thorson into a younger version of himself. He asks his plastic surgeon, Dr. Jack Startz (Rob Lowe), to transform Scott's face to more closely resemble his own and makes an unsuccessful attempt to formally adopt him. Thorson soon turns to drugs as he becomes more angry and frustrated with Liberace trying to control him as well as Liberace's obsession to publicly hide their romance at any cost.
By 1982, Thorson's increasing drug abuse and Liberace's interest in younger men, including dancer Cary James (Boyd Holbrook), creates a rift that ultimately destroys their relationship. When Liberace begins visiting pornographic peep shows and suggests that they each see other people, Thorson becomes upset. Thorson retains an attorney to seek his financial share of the property by suing Liberace for over $100,000,000 in palimony. As a result, Liberace ends their formal partnership and involves himself with his most recent, and much younger, "assistant". In 1984, Thorson's palimony lawsuit starts where he gives details about his five-year romance with the entertainer, while Liberace flatly denies any sexual relationship.
Not long thereafter, in December 1986, Thorson receives a phone call from Liberace telling him that he is very sick with what is later revealed to be AIDS and that he would like Thorson to visit him again. Thorson agrees and drives to Liberace's retreat house in Palm Springs, where he and Liberace have one last, emotional conversation. Liberace dies a few months later in February 1987. Thorson attends Liberace's funeral, in which he imagines seeing Liberace performing one last time with his traditional flamboyance, before being lifted to Heaven with a stage harness.
Director Steven Soderbergh first spoke with Michael Douglas about the idea of doing a Liberace film during the production of Traffic (2000), but had trouble figuring out an angle for it that would differentiate it from a traditional biopic. In the summer of 2008, Soderbergh contacted screenwriter Richard LaGravenese with the idea of adapting Scott Thorson's memoir Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace. In September 2008, the project was officially announced with Matt Damon close to signing on to play Thorson and Douglas in talks to portray Liberace.
The following year, Douglas officially signed on to play Liberace alongside Damon. The film spent several years in development while Soderbergh had difficulty securing funding, with Hollywood studios saying it was "too gay". During this time, Douglas and Damon remained adamant that they would appear in the film despite its lengthy development. Ultimately, the film was picked up by HBO Films and shot on a budget of $23 million over thirty days in 2012.
While promoting the film, Soderbergh went on to explain that this would be his last directorial effort for the time being. It is also the last film to feature a musical score by composer Marvin Hamlisch, who died on August 6, 2012.
The film received critical acclaim. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 95%, based on reviews from 99 film critics with an average score of 8.1 out of 10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Affectionate without sacrificing honesty, Behind the Candelabra couples award-worthy performances from Michael Douglas and Matt Damon with some typically sharp direction from Steven Soderbergh." Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 82 based on 30 reviews.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film 4/5 stars, saying "As a black comedy, and as a portrait of celebrity loneliness, Behind the Candelabra is very stylish and effective, and Damon and Douglas give supremely entertaining performances."
The film, shown for the first time on American television on May 26, 2013, was watched by 2.4 million US viewers. A further 1.1 million tuned in to watch the repeat immediately after, bringing viewership to 3.5 million in total. When the film debuted on HBO, it achieved the highest ratings for a television film since 2004.
At the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, Baby Boy (a dog that appeared in the film as one of Liberace's pet poodles) won the Palm Dog Award. This is not an official part of the festival but takes place at the same time. Behind the Candelabra won the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Movie or Miniseries and TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries, and Specials. The film won two Golden Globe Awards and eleven Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Miniseries or Movie and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for Douglas.
|65th Primetime Emmy Awards|
|Outstanding Miniseries or Movie||Jerry Weintraub, Gregory Jacobs, Susan Ekins, and Michael Polaire||Won|
|Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie||Michael Douglas||Won|
|Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie||Scott Bakula||Nominated|
|Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special||Steven Soderbergh||Won|
|Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special||Richard LaGravenese||Nominated|
|65th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards|
|Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or Movie||Howard Cummings, Patrick M. Sullivan Jr., and Barbara Munch||Won|
|Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special||Carmen Cuba||Won|
|Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie||Steven Soderbergh (as Peter Andrews)||Nominated|
|Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special||Ellen Mirojnick and Robert Q. Mathews||Won|
|Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or Movie||Marie Larkin, Yvette Stone, Kerrie Smith, and Kay Georgiou||Won|
|Outstanding Make-up for a Miniseries or Movie (Non-Prosthetic)||Kate Biscoe, Deborah Rutherford, Deborah La Mia Denaver, Christine Beveridge, and Todd Kleitsch||Won|
|Outstanding Prosthetic Make-up for a Series, Miniseries, Movie, or Special||Kate Biscoe, Hiroshi Yada, Jamie Kelman, Stephen Kelley, Christine Beveridge, Todd Kleitsch, and Christien Tinsley||Won|
|Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or Movie||Steven Soderbergh (as Mary Ann Bernard)||Won|
|Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or Movie||Dennis Towns, Larry Blake, and Thomas Vicari||Won|
|71st Golden Globe Awards|
|Best Miniseries or Television Film||Won|
|Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film||Matt Damon||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film||Rob Lowe||Nominated|
|67th British Academy Film Awards|
|Best Actor in a Supporting Role||Matt Damon||Nominated|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Richard LaGravenese||Nominated|
|Best Production Design||Howard Cummings||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Ellen Mirojnick||Nominated|
|Best Makeup and Hair||Kate Biscoe and Marie Larkin||Nominated|
|18th Satellite Awards|
|Best Miniseries or Television Film||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film||Michael Douglas||Won|
|11th Irish Film & Television Awards|
|International Actor||Michael Douglas||Nominated|
|25th GLAAD Media Awards|
|Outstanding TV Movie or Mini-Series||Won|
The 39th Deauville American Film Festival took place at Deauville, France from August 30 to September 8, 2013. Steven Soderbergh's drama film Behind the Candelabra served as the opening night film. Snowpiercer by Bong Joon-ho was the closing night film of the festival. The Grand Prix was awarded to Night Moves by Kelly Reichardt.Complete lineup for the festival was announced on July 19, 2013, including episodes from Television shows for the Television section at the festival. Electronic music duo Justice was given Carte blanche section to show nine of their favourite American films to the festival audience. The festival paid tribute to Cate Blanchett, Nicolas Cage, Larry Clark, Gale Anne Hurd and John Travolta and hosted retrospective of their films. The festival honoured American actor, singer, dancer, and comedian Danny Kaye with Deauville Legend award.3rd Critics' Choice Television Awards
The 3rd Critics' Choice Television Awards, presented by the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), honoring the best in primetime television programming from June 1, 2012 until May 31, 2013, were held on June 10, 2013 at The Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, California. The nominations were announced on May 22, 2013. The ceremony was hosted by comedian and actress Retta, while streamed live on Ustream. Bob Newhart received the Critics' Choice Television Icon Award.65th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards
The 65th Annual Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony was held on September 15, 2013, at the Nokia Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles. The ceremony was held in conjunction with the annual Primetime Emmy Awards and is presented in recognition of technical and other similar achievements in American television programming, including guest acting roles. The ceremony was highlighted by 8 Emmy wins for the HBO film Behind the Candelabra, as well as Bob Newhart's win for a guest appearance on The Big Bang Theory, his first Emmy win in a TV career spanning over 5 decades. The ceremony was taped to air on Saturday, September 21, 2013, on FXX, one night before the live 65th Primetime Emmy Awards telecast on CBS.65th Primetime Emmy Awards
The 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, honoring the best in prime time television programming from June 1, 2012 until May 31, 2013, were held on Sunday, September 22, 2013 at the Nokia Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles, California. CBS televised the ceremony within the United States. Actor Neil Patrick Harris hosted the Primetime Emmys for the second time. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony was held on September 15.Breaking Bad won Outstanding Drama Series for the first half of its fifth season, while Modern Family won Outstanding Comedy Series for the fourth consecutive time.
Netflix made history by earning the first Primetime Emmy Award nominations for original online only web television. Three of its web series, Arrested Development, Hemlock Grove, and House of Cards, earned a total of 14 nominations. Netflix also made history with three wins, including Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for the pilot episode, "Chapter 1", of House of Cards, as well as a pair of Creative Arts Emmy Awards, making "Chapter 1" the first Primetime Emmy Award-winning webisode.67th British Academy Film Awards
The 67th British Academy Film Awards, more commonly known as the BAFTAs, were held on 16 February 2014 at the Royal Opera House in London, honouring the best national and foreign films of 2013. The nominations were announced on 8 January 2014 by actor Luke Evans and actress Helen McCrory. Presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, accolades were handed out for the best feature-length film and documentaries of any nationality that were screened at British cinemas in 2013.Gravity won six of its eleven nominations, including Best Director for Alfonso Cuarón, Outstanding British Film, Best Cinematography, Best Original Music, Best Sound, and Best Special Visual Effects. 12 Years a Slave won Best Film and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Chiwetel Ejiofor. Cate Blanchett won Best Actress in a Leading Role for Blue Jasmine, Barkhad Abdi won Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Captain Phillips, and Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress in a Supporting Role for American Hustle.The ceremony was broadcast on BBC One and BBC Three. It was hosted by Stephen Fry, the ninth time he's hosted the ceremony. The ceremony opened with a duet call "Heroes" from Tinie Tempah and singer Laura Mvula. Viewing figures were the lowest since 2010, with 4.73 million watching the ceremony.71st Golden Globe Awards
The 71st Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and American television of 2013, was broadcast live from the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on January 12, 2014, by NBC, as part of the 2013-14 film awards season. The ceremony was produced by Dick Clark Productions in association with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Woody Allen was announced as the Cecil B. DeMille Award honoree for his lifetime achievements on September 13, 2013, and Diane Keaton accepted the award for him. On October 15, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were announced as the co-hosts for the second time in a row and as the co-hosts for the 72nd Golden Globe Awards. The nominations were announced on December 12, 2013, by Aziz Ansari, Zoe Saldana and Olivia Wilde. American Hustle, Behind the Candelabra, Breaking Bad, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Dallas Buyers Club were among the films and television shows that received multiple awards.Bruce Ramsay
Bruce Ramsay (born December 31, 1966) is a Canadian film, television and stage actor.Ellen Mirojnick
Ellen Mirojnick is an American costumer designer. She is a frequent collaborator of actor Michael Douglas, having overseen the costume design for the films Fatal Attraction (1987), Wall Street (1987), Basic Instinct (1992), A Perfect Murder (1998), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) and Behind the Candelabra (2013). The wardrobe which she created for the character of Gordon Gekko inspired a fashion trend in the late 1980's and early 1990's for boldly patterned ties, sleek suits, crisp white shirts, and colorful suspenders in men's business wear. She has also been a frequent collaborator of directors Jan de Bont and Paul Verhoeven, acting as costume designer on de Bont's films Speed (1994), Twister (1996) and The Haunting (1999), as well as Verhoeven's films Basic Instinct (1992), Showgirls (1995), Starship Troopers (1997) and Hollow Man (2002).She won an Emmy and a Costume Designers Guild Award in 2013 for her work on the Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra. In 2016 she was given the Career Achievement Award by the Costume Designers Guild. In 2017 she gained further praise for her work on The Greatest Showman, which garnered her a further nomination for Excellence in Period Film with the Costume Designers Guild.
Sharon Stone has praised her experience with Mirojnick on Basic Instinct: “I don’t think I had any idea, really, that I could look so great. Then I was like, "‘Oh, I could look like that all the time. Maybe I should get with it.’" Ellen really taught me how to feel empowered like the character I was playing.”Gregory Jacobs
Gregory "Greg" Jacobs is an American film director, assistant director, producer, and screenwriter. He has frequently collaborated with several film directors, most notably Steven Soderbergh. Jacobs has also been operating as a director himself, having overseen projects such as Criminal, Wind Chill and Magic Mike XXL.Jerry Weintraub
Jerome Charles Weintraub (September 26, 1937 – July 6, 2015) was an American film producer, talent agent and actor whose television films won him three Emmys.He began his career as a talent agent, having managed relatively unknown singer John Denver in 1970, developing Denver's success through concerts, television specials and film roles, including Oh, God! (1977). Weintraub has been credited with making "show business history" by being the first to organize and manage large arena concert tours for singers. Among the other performers whose tours he managed were Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Four Seasons, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Three Dog Night and The Carpenters.
Following his years as a concert promoter, he began producing films. Among them were director Robert Altman's Nashville (1975), Barry Levinson's Diner (1982), the original version of The Karate Kid (1984) and its 2010 remake, as well as the remake Ocean's Eleven (2001), and its two sequels. Later, Weintraub was executive producer of HBO's series The Brink and HBO's Behind the Candelabra in 2013, which won an Emmy. In 2014, he won another Emmy as co-producer of Years of Living Dangerously, a television documentary about global warming. In 2011, HBO broadcast a television documentary about Weintraub's life, called His Way.Kiff VandenHeuvel
Kiff VandenHeuvel (born Christopher Jon VandenHeuvel; April 24, 1970) is an American actor, director and teacher of both improvisational comedy and voiceover. He is the host of the award nominated voiceover podcast, All Over Voiceover with Kiff VH. His film credits include Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Nightcrawler, La La Land, and Behind the Candelabra, as Liberace's (Michael Douglas)'s half-brother, Wayne. He is best known for his work in BioShock Infinite as Zachary Hale Comstock, Skavak in Star Wars: The Old Republic, Walter in Telltale's The Walking Dead and as Cliff Rich on the Netflix series, Richie Rich.List of awards and nominations received by Michael Douglas
Awards and nominations received by Michael Douglas.Matt Damon filmography
Matt Damon is an American actor, producer and screenwriter. He made his screen debut with a minor role in the 1988 film Mystic Pizza. After appearing in a series of supporting parts in much of the 1990s, Damon was cast by Francis Ford Coppola as the lead of the 1997 legal drama The Rainmaker. His breakthrough came later that year when he played the title role of an unrecognized genius in Good Will Hunting, a drama which he also co-wrote with Ben Affleck. They won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and Damon was nominated for Best Actor. He followed it by playing the title roles of a soldier in Steven Spielberg's war drama Saving Private Ryan (1998) and of the criminal Tom Ripley in the thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), both of which gained critical and commercial success. A production company he formed in 2000 with Affleck and Sean Bailey, named LivePlanet, produced Project Greenlight (2001–05, 2015), a television series that helps newcomers develop their first film. Damon has served as the executive producer of a number of projects directed by winners of the show.Damon's profile continued to expand in the 2000s, as he took on starring roles in two lucrative film franchises. He featured as a con man in Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Trilogy (2001–07) and played the titular spy Jason Bourne in four of the five films in the Bourne series (2002–16). Damon co-wrote, co-edited and starred in the drama Gerry in 2002, which polarized critics. He played an energy analyst in the thriller Syriana in 2005, and the following year, he collaborated with Leonardo DiCaprio in the acclaimed crime drama The Departed. He portrayed the rugby player Francois Pienaar opposite Morgan Freeman's Nelson Mandela in the sports drama Invictus (2009), which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Damon continued to gain praise for his collaborations with Soderbergh on the crime film The Informant! (2009) and the drama Behind the Candelabra (2013). In the former, he played the whistleblower Mark Whitacre and in the latter, he played Scott Thorson, the disgruntled lover of Liberace, for which he received an Emmy Award nomination.In 2012, Damon and Affleck launched the production company Pearl Street Films. Their first project, Promised Land, which Damon co-wrote and starred with John Krasinski, underperformed. Damon's biggest commercial successes in the 2010s came with the western True Grit (2010), and the science fiction films Elysium (2013) and The Martian (2015). In the latter, which earned over $630 million to become his highest-grossing release, Damon played a botanist stranded on Mars, for which he received an Oscar nomination and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. With box office receipts of over $3 billion in North America, Damon ranks among Hollywood's most commercially successful actors.Randy Kerber
Randy Kerber (born September 25, 1958 in Encino, California) is a composer, orchestrator and keyboard player, who has had a prolific career in the world of cinema.He began his first national tour with Bette Midler in 1977, at the age of 19. Kerber was nominated for an Oscar in 1986, along with Quincy Jones and others, for Best Original Score for the motion picture, "The Color Purple". He was nominated for a Grammy for his arrangement of "Over the Rainbow" for Barbra Streisand.
As a studio keyboardist, Randy Kerber has worked on over 800 motion pictures including Titanic, A Beautiful Mind, and the first three films of the Harry Potter franchise. The piano in the opening and closing scenes of Forrest Gump, which features a feather floating in the wind, was played by Randy Kerber.
He has been an orchestrator on over 50 films, including work with Academy Award winner James Horner. He worked with Eric Clapton as keyboardist, orchestrator, and conductor on the film Rush - playing on the Grammy Award-winning song "Tears in Heaven".
During his career, Randy Kerber has worked with a wide range of artists such as Michael Jackson, Paul Anka, Leonard Cohen, Rickie Lee Jones, Whitney Houston, Michael Bolton, Rod Stewart, B.B. King, Bill Medley, Annie Lennox, Art Garfunkel, Jose Feliciano, Anastacia, Celine Dion, Natalie Cole, Al Jarreau, Ray Charles, Neil Diamond, Elisa, Julio Iglesias, Barry Manilow, Don Ellis, Ricky Martin, Bette Midler, Corey Hart, Eric Burdon, Kenny Rogers, Donna Summer, George Benson, Diana Ross, Marta Sanchez, Frank Sinatra, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Dionne Warwick; and groups including Air Supply, America, Def Leppard, The Temptations, Manhattan Transfer, Lisa Stansfield, The Three Degrees and A. R. Rahman
Recently, Randy Kerber has performed piano solos on Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, Robert Zemeckis' "Flight", and Steven Soderbergh's Behind the Candelabra for which he also trained Michael Douglas. Kerber has been working closely with actors Jason Schwartzman for his role in the Disney film Saving Mr. Banks and Zoe Saldana for her turn as Nina Simone in the biopic Nina.
He has a sample library under Cinesample's "Artist Series", released February 2013, entitled "Randy's Celeste."Ray Arnett
Ray Arnett (September 17, 1917 – March 12, 2015) was an American producer, choreographer and stage director best known for his work with Liberace.Arnett is also known for introducing Liberace to future partner Scott Thorson.Arnett was portrayed by actor Tom Papa in the 2013 HBO film Behind the Candelabra.He died on March 12, 2015, at the age of 97.Scott Thorson
Scott Thorson (born January 23, 1959, La Crosse, Wisconsin) is an American best known for his relationship with and lawsuit against the entertainer Liberace. Since 2008 he has had multiple criminal convictions and has been an inmate in the Nevada Department of Corrections system since January 2014.Tom Papa
Thomas Papa (born November 10, 1968) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, writer, author, producer, and television/radio host. His book Your Dad Stole My Rake: And Other Family Dilemmas was a number one new release on Amazon. He hosts the show 'Baked' on the Food Network and is head writer for the radio variety show Live from Here, hosted by Chris Thile.Vince Cardell
Vince Cardell (born Vincent M. Cardile) (September 16, 1938 – May 29, 2012) was an American pianist who was a protégé of Liberace. Cardell became a significant part of Liberace's act in the late 1970s and released several albums internationally. After separating personally and professionally from Liberace, Cardell continued as a professional pianist until his death.