Matt Damon sat down with Playboy to discuss his new HBO movie with Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra, in which he plays Scott Thorson to Douglas’ Liberace.
Among the things we learned: Michael Douglas apparently has pillowy soft lips, Damon learned to gay it up from the late Heath Ledger and he was never “offended” by those pesky gay rumors at the onset of his career.
On playing Liberace’s longtime lover:
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. There’s stuff I think will make people uncomfortable. Great. It’s HBO—they can change the channel.
On getting into character:
We both have a lot of gay friends, and we were not going to screw this up or bullshit it. It wasn’t the most natural thing in the world to do, though. Like, for one scene, I had to come out of a pool, go over to Michael, straddle him on a chaise lounge and start kissing him. And throughout the script, it’s not like I kiss him just once. We drew it up like a football plan.
On his Brokeback connection:
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.”
On kissing Michael Douglas:
Michael was a wonderful kisser.
On gay rumors with bromantic life partner Ben Affleck:
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.
You can read the entire interview here.