First look: Michael Douglas as Liberace & Matt Damon’s feathered wiglet

I’ve been hearing about this Liberace bio-pic (Beyond the Candelabra) for years now. The project was first announced back in 2010, with Michael Douglas always scheduled to play the lead – Liberace. I guess it was delayed when Michael successfully battled cancer, and they began filming the HBO movie a little while ago – these are the first photos from the Beverly Hills set that I’ve seen, although you can see more here. What’s pretty incredible is that Matt Damon came on board to play Liberace’s lover. LOOK AT THE WIGLET!!!!!!! I don’t know if Michael is wearing a wiglet, but I know Matt is. And what a glorious wiglet it is. Amazing!!! Here’s PCN’s description:

Michael Douglas gets into character as Liberace while Matt Damon plays his alleged gay lover on the set of ‘Behind the Candelabra’ in LA. Douglas showed off his hair dyed dark red while Matt Damon sported a shaggier look for his role as Scott Thorson, who filed a $113 million palimony lawsuit against the famous pianist in 1982 and later wrote a book about his experiences. The scene featured the two shopping for a car for the HBO film directed by Steven Soberbergh.

[From Pacific Coast News]

Believe it or not, I have no memory of any of that gossip. I’m old but I’m not THAT old. Liberace was before my time, but I will totally watch this – Liberace had a young beefcake-kept man? Amazing. Liberace’s gay lover actually filed for palimony after they broke up?!? Amazing. Liberace’s lover had feathered hair like Farrah Fawcett? Amazing.

Photos courtesy of Pacific Coast News.

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83 Responses to “First look: Michael Douglas as Liberace & Matt Damon’s feathered wiglet”

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  1. beyonce's bump says:

    Eh this might be embarrassing, but I don’t know who liberace is/was?

    • SheilaSheilaSheila says:

      Then I bet you’re pronouncing it wrong, too…

    • gee says:

      if you haven’t checked already

    • fabgrrl says:

      Yes, that is embarrassing. It takes a few seconds to look someone up on Wikipedia. Liberace was a well known entertainer and public figure. He was before my time as well, in that I was a little kid when he died. But I actually bother to pay attention to pop culture. Ignorance is not cute.

      • Lucy says:

        How is not knowing who someone is ignorant? That’s ridiculous, for all you know the person who made that comment wasn’t even born anywhere around that time and honestly never heard of Liberace. I think your comment is ignorant.

      • Ari says:

        @lucy I agree and its rude.

      • cupidityrox! says:

        being a a*shole isn’t cute either

      • Ojulia says:

        Wow. I don’t know if you’re having a bad day or what, but that was response was pretty rude.

      • mayamae says:

        This comment is extremely rude but I wouldn’t call it uncommon. Go check out the thread on opening ceremonies of the olympics for some good old “ignorant American” comments.

      • Nymeria says:

        @ Lucy – “How is not knowing who someone is ignorant?”

        Lucy, that is the definition of ignorance. If you don’t believe me, Google the word “ignorant.” It can mean being uninformed about things in general, or being uninformed about a specific topic.

      • Elizabeth says:

        I don’t think fabgrrl is being ignorant. I try to keep up on “pop culture” too even when it isn’t really my thing. I’m 50 years old but I watched the first 2 Twilight movies just because I wanted to understand what everyone was talking about.

      • HadleyB says:

        People no matter the age always type “who is this? who died ? what was the Titanic? ( example? )

        It IS stupid because they are on the internet for one, and second by the time they typed the question or statement saying they have no idea who so and so person is or asking who is this? They could of Googled them or Wki’d them to find out and bam, you have your answer. Simple.

        That’s what I don’t get, if you find out the basics and you STILL have questions, then yes ask away but I wish the who? what? who died? what are you talking about? questions would stop and the excuse of ” but I wasn’t BORN yet” excuse would stop .. no one was born yet when the Titanic went down either yet people still asked about it .. it wasn’t pop culture it was history.. so stop being lazy, research ( did you not learn this in college? high school? 6th grade?

      • MB says:

        Eh. I cant hate on the girl for being ignorant about an obscure pop culture reference (well, obscure in todays day and age anyway); but, I can agree that it is a tad ridiculous to spend more time posting a comment about how you dont know who Liberace is than it would take you to type ‘liberace’ into google and work it out.

      • beyonce's bump says:

        Shout out to all my fellow celebitches for replying on my behalf! Practice gets fairly busy so I can only posts mostly once a day! *hugs*

      • chantal says:

        Dude, I’m French and I know who Liberace is or was… He played beautifully the piano and loved furs, feathers and diamond. The man dressed crazier than my fellow Elton John.

    • Adrien says:

      Liberace was like Elton John meets Elvis. One of the first, if not the first openly (flamboyant) gay entertainer. He was famous for his witty one-liners and audience banter.
      You know beyonce’s bump, I’ve never heard of Blake Sheldon (earlier entry) but after reading the comments I’m proud that I do not know who he is. Do check out Liberace, he’s worth it.

      • Poppy says:

        Actually he was never openly gay – Liberace successfully sued a newpaper for implying he was gay, and from then on had to live an outwardly heterosexual life. He even got married (to a woman) to perpetuate the image.

        His sexuality was probably the worst kept secret in the history of showbiz, but he was never openly gay.

        Fascinating man though!

      • Lushus L. says:

        @ Adrien May I also add Chopin meets Seigfried and Roy to your description? Lol.

      • beyonce's bump says:

        Thanks Adrien…checking him out as I type 😀

    • Kris29 says:

      It’s no big if you don’t know. The only cultural reference people ever make of him is typically in regard to his flamboyantly ornate and over the top taste and lifestyle. It’s stupid lame that peeps were so snotty to you about it.

  2. Freckles says:

    These pictures are fantastic. I love the wigs!

  3. Feebee says:

    That is an amazing wiglet and Matt looks, um, good for the era.

    Why couldn’t they get a wig that good for Naomi Watts in the Diana biopic?

  4. obm says:

    This movie is gonna be AWESOME. Yes. Yesyesyes. And that’s just in reaction to the wiglet.

    • fabgrrl says:

      Indeed! This looks like it was sauteed in awesome-sauce.

    • QQ says:

      Can we Give Props to that wiglet and ask if it could be hired for the Diana Biopic too?

    • Cidee says:

      I am going to go out on a limb and predict an Emmy nod for the wiglet. But will it be for a supporting role or a leading role? Clearly the wiglet is the star of the show….

    • womanfromthenorth says:

      wait till you see the clothes! Matt’s ass will look so fine! Guys knew how to wear pants back in the day, hate the droopy poopy look of today.

      And Lib’s were like a ballroom walking… should be fun to watch.

  5. corny says:

    This seems to be a movie on a par with Lilo’s Liz except it is a little less relevant.

    • Lushus L. says:

      I agree. I don’t like the memory of Liberace being tainted in a cheesy biopic a la Liz Taylor. It might have been dreamed up because of his gaiety. Beyond the Candelabra–wtf? Cheese is the word.

  6. Ming says:

    Worshipping the shrine of Michael Douglas and his awesome 80’s-90’s movies forever.

  7. Boxy Lady says:

    He was a piano player, a very famous and flamboyant one, who died of AIDS in the 80s. And he swore until the day he died that he was neither gay or HIV positive. Had a huge following of naive women who were smitten with him. If you watch Clooney’s movie about Edward R Murrow, Good Night and Good Luck, there’s a clip of Liberace in the 50s being asked when he was going to “settle down and get married.” His reply was something like he had to find a woman good enough to bring home to his mother(!).

    • Carol says:

      Even better than that, he referenced Princess Margaret’s quote about how she was looking for a good man and no one at the time knew he was being literal! Very cheeky!

    • MJ says:

      My mom was a rebellious teenager in the mid-’70s, really into glam rock and funk. When she brought one of her Ziggy Stardust looking guy friends home, my Catholic grandma blew a fuse and threw his silver leathered behind out of there, saying she couldn’t believe she’d bring “one of those people” into her house. When my mom suggested that her beloved Liberace might also be “one of those people,” my grandma was deeply offended. Fast forward 40 years and Grandma has a much more open mind… I think Liberace had something to do with it.

      • TrustMeOnThis says:

        <3 <3 <3 this anecdote!

        I'm going to the movie. I hope it doesn't suck. Liberace was one of the more awesome peeps to help break down the gaywall, even if he was never able to bring himself to come out. He kinda didn't have to.

  8. Toot says:

    Michael isn’t giving me any Liberace vibes, but hopefully he pulls it off. Matt looks believable as that guy.

    • stinky says:

      wowzer!!! Michael is gonna nail Liberace’s infamous voice! I can just hear it now: “….. And now a return to the classics – perhaps one of the most classic, in all the world of music”

  9. Chris: now with 10% less negativity says:

    This looks like another great vehicle for the talented Mr Damon to showcase his versatility. I’m totes there.

  10. Po says:

    You know what, these people are lucky gossip blogs weren’t around in the 70s. There were actually women my mom’s age who refused to believe Liberace was gay. I can’t even imagine how you rationalize that.

    • TJ says:

      You’re so right, Po. I grew up in Vegas and even met him when I was a kid. He was awesome and I got the biggest kick out of him. Women then were in SERIOUS denial that he was gay. My mom would say, “Honey, you do realize that man likes men, don’t you?” I would laugh my head off because it was SO obvious.

    • DeltaJuliet says:

      I was a little kid when he died, I didn’t even know what gay WAS, but I knew something was up with that dude. How did all these grown women fool themselves? LOL I remember my grandmother liked him too.

    • Jordan says:

      Remember the Claymates?! I don’t know why the denial. For me it wouldn’t make a difference but everyone has their own reasons for liking entertainment. Maybe he was safe and their husbands didn’t mind them going ga-ga over him, but still wanted the fantasy they were doing something just a little scandalous. Who knows, but I think subconsciously, everyone knew and just did whatever they had to do to not care b/c he was a great entertainer.

  11. cupidityrox! says:

    I see razzie nominations. Joking. I think…

  12. serena says:

    Matt looks damn hot with that wig!

  13. DanaG says:

    I am old enough to remember the great Liberace and I just can’t see Michael Douglas doing this. If he goes to far campy he will make it seem more a joke then a biopic. I do love Matt’s wig and yes it’s a shame that Naomi Watt’s wardrobe people didn’t find her a better one or clothes, or jewel….etc

    • Toot says:

      “I am old enough to remember the great Liberace and I just can’t see Michael Douglas doing this.”

      Me either.

      • stinky says:

        you’ll like it – Michael is a good actor, and his voice will be perfect. my concern is that there’ll need to be a whole lot of smiling going on, and i cant exactly see Michael doing THAT. but like i said, he’s a good actor y’all!

    • Chris: now with 10% less negativity says:

      He might be alright if they don’t let him near the piano too often and focus more on Liberace’s private life. But who’s gonna play his brother George?

  14. neelyo says:

    I remember this story well but that’s because as a young gay male there were very few stories about homosexuality in the news and this one was one of the few big ones pre-AIDS.

    Liberace’s fans were the ancestors of the Claykens or whatever Aikens’ fans call themselves.

    • mia girl says:

      Yes, I think anthropologically, the Liberace female fans evolved into Barry Manilow female fans who later evolved into the Claykens.

      • TrustMeOnThis says:

        The eventual Manilow biopic is sure to be epic!
        I wonder if the Maniloe fangirls have a name.. Fanilows? Eh. Anyway, they were known to rival deadheads as to their dedication! Should make a good film.

  15. Gia says:

    Liberace was a larger than life character and I’m totally looking forward to this. Douglas and Damon are both great.

  16. SleepyJane says:

    Matt’s wig IS this movie. It’s the only reason I’d ever watch it.

  17. bea says:

    They should go ahead and film the Merv G. and Ryan S. story when they’re done.

  18. Cathy says:

    I remember liberace, and I remember hearing about the lawsuit to. Guess it just goes to show you how old I am. lol

  19. Maeve says:

    In Las Vegas there is a Liberace Museum, in a little building in an area rife with strip malls and sushi restaurants, near a big swanky mall. It is amazing! His money-manager mom ran it for ages and was notorious for doing the hard sell on gift shop tchotchkes; replicas of his ornate jewelry, autographed images, and the like.

    It is filled with glass cases and in each case is the custom ensemble for each of his major performances, including all the specs — like, “This outfit has 2,000 emeralds, 12000 rubies, cost 18k and took so many weeks to make, and weighed xx lbs…” with most of his robes (he was fond of elaborate robes over his suits) weighing in at 20-100 lbs. Then there is the car he drove onto stage, often also covered in jewels and with 3-4 miles in the odometer, the bejeweled piano he played and, finally, the candelabra. Each case has an entire stage show of cars, pianos, candelabra, clothing and jewelry. All of his big shows had custom matching pieces. It is worth a drive and a break from the casinos to see it. I took my grandmother there ages ago and she still refused to believe he was gay, even though there are pictures of Liberace and his partner all over.

    Also, when L was dying, Scott Thorson reached out to him and they made amends. It seems they’d been truly close. Scott was there with him at the very end of his life. L’s mom was a worse momager tan Dina Lohan, but I don’t rememer much of what I heard of his brother.

  20. Zorbitor says:

    There was a hilarious made for tv biopic in the late 80’s or early 90’s, They never show it doe. 🚀

  21. Jayna says:

    It’s nice to see Michael in a movie again. He is such a good actor. Matt I love.

  22. videli says:

    Have you guys seen that movie with Liberace and Ann Margret? The quintessential lack of chemistry, one for the textbooks.

  23. Hautie says:

    Liberace, I believe, coined the phase, “I am laughing all the way to the bank”.

    (This was when some jackass journalist ask him about his over the top style of entertaining. And this was back in the 1950’s.)

    Liberace was fabulous, before anyone realize how great it was to be fabulous. 🙂

    And yes, My grandmother, nearly sh*t herself when she realize he was playing for the home team. There were a lot of those early female fans who adored him. Just like he was Justin Bieber.

  24. momo says:

    This looks totally awesome, and I hope Michael does Liberace justice….Matt Damon I’m sure will be fabulous.
    As a wig professional though, I can not help but point out that neither gentleman is wearing a WIGLET!
    The color matching is phenomenal for Matt Damon’s natural haircolor, but that is a full handmade human hair wig.
    Michael’s is as well (with that overdyed darkness that Liberace had)
    They look great!

    • ahoyhoy says:

      I know nothing about wigs or hair extensions, and ITA–Matt’s wig is a real achievement in wig-making. The sunny highlights with the lowlights—just perfect.

      I’m old enough to remember the 1970’s Liberace. He was a STAR through and through! He used to have a television show in the 50’s in which he would play fantastic classical piano, mug a bit for the camera, and tell jokes and anecdotes between songs. The man had me swooning with his charisma, and I could tell he was flaming! Liberace just had ‘it’, and knew how to use it!

      I should add: Liberace LOVED his fans. He really gave 110% into EVERY performance. His fans paid his bills & for his extravagant lifestyle, and he appreciated EVERY FAN he ever had. Liberace was a star among stars, the BEST!

  25. Jordan says:

    Loving Matt’s Farah wiglet! I think Michael Douglas can pull off Liberace.

  26. Chelsey says:

    I hate the word “wiglet”

  27. mayamae says:

    Michael Douglas and Matt Damon are both great actors but the camp factor is so high I’m not sure if it could be played as drama. It’s probably why no high quality film has ever been made about Elvis.

  28. RobN says:

    Am I the only person who thinks he looks way more like Roy Orbison than Liberace? Maybe they could film that biopic at the same time and save a few bucks.

  29. carlino altoviti says:

    I can’t imagine Douglas as Liberace. His father was from a city near mine. I think catholic education and the too strong presence of his polish mother, prevented him to live better his sexuality.
    It was ridiculous to deny what everyone sees.

  30. FingerBinger says:

    This looks awesome!

  31. Jackie O says:

    can’t wait. i remember hearing all about this when i was a kid. matt damon looks exactly like Liberace’s lover/partner.

  32. MB says:

    This should make for a fantastic movie. Liberace encouraged his partner to undergo extensive plastic surgery so that they looked the same. This was definitely an odd relationship.

  33. HappyJoyJoy says:

    As a proud Las Vegan, this is a story well known here in town. His museum was (it is now closed) unbelievable, he was the epitome of extravagant owning a rhinestoned Rolls Royce Phantom and at one time being the highest paid entertainer in the world. My prom was held at his mansion, he had the sistine chapel’s ceiling replicated in his bedroom. Youtube him; He was out of this world! I personally can’t wait to watch this. I Am a Liberace Lover and he is waaaaaaaaaay before my time too.

  34. Metry says:

    This movie looks like hot,sparkly, hairsprayed perfection. Can’t wait.

  35. Daphne says:

    I want to see this. If Micheal Douglas can pull off playing Liberace, it looks like campy, sparkly fun.

  36. mathers says:

    Matt Damon is TOO OLD to play this role. What were the producers smoking to cast a 42 year old to play a 17 year old?? This will be worse than when a 50 year old Kevin Spacey attempted to portray a 23 year old Bobby Darin. Ridiculous. Sheesh!