Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Can you talk about your close friendship with your "Behind the Candelabra" co-star Matt Damon?
Matt, I've known for a while. I've admired him in his career, all the way back to "Good Will Hunting." He did "Ocean's Twelve" with my wife, Catherine [Zeta-Jones]. We spent a lot of time together then. He's the kind of guy I like. He's talented. He's a wonderful actor, no BS. He's got a great work ethic.
I was staggered and so happy when Steven [Soderbergh, director of "Behind the Candelabra"] told us that Matt was going to play Scott [Thorson, Liberace's lover]. And so beyond that, we looked at each other and said, "You read the script, right?" And he said, "Yeah." And I said, "Well, let's go!" And he had that kind of commitment. You can't ask for anything more.
Also, I produce, and I kind of have to look at the whole picture. Matt's got a writing and producing background too. So you're dealing with the best all the way around. Based upon last week's [Creative Arts] Emmys that ["Behind the Candelabra"] won, this was a beautifully produced show, extremely well-directed. And this is what you dream about: not only having a great part but it being complemented by having a great production and everybody else being up to par.
And Matt was beyond that. He was fantastic. My only disappointment tonight was that he should be up there with me. And for ["Behind the Candelabra" screenwriter] Richard LaGravenese, who wrote probably the best screenplay I've ever been involved with.
You mentioned in your acceptance speech that you aren't able to see your son Cameron. Can you expound on that?
My son is in federal prison, based upon he's been a drug addict for a large part of his life, and was selling drugs and was arrested and is in federal prison. And part of their punishments is that if you happen to have a slip (this is for a prisoner who is non-violent, as are about half a million of our drug-addicted prisoners are), they punish you.
So in my son's case, he has spent almost two years in solitary confinement. And right now, I've been told that I cannot see him for two years. It's over a year now, and I'm questioning the system. Obviously, at first, I was certainly disappointed in my son. But I've reached a point now where I'm very, very disappointed with the system.
And as you can see from what Attorney General Eric Holder has been doing and other issues regarding our prison system, I think things are going to be revised regarding non-violent drug addicts [who are] criminals. My last comment on that is the United States represents 5 percent of the world's population, and we have 25 percent of the world's prisoners.
You thanked Liberace, also known as Lee, in your acceptance speech. Did you feel that his spirit was close by during and after you made "Behind the Candelabra"?
I did. Obviously, this picture had special meaning to me. One day, I was dealing with mortality issues, regarding my cancer. The next day, this jewel was handed to me: this beautiful script and Steven and Matt. And then I have to thank them for actually having to wait another year, because I wasn't up to speed when we were ready to go earlier.
But it gave me a long time to absorb Lee and all the incredible qualities that he had. His generosity, his joy of life. A wonderful, wonderful caregiver in every sense, from everybody I talked to. And I think it helped me a lot, certainly after I became cancer-free, in terms of a freedom of spirit. It gave me a new appreciation of Lee.