The 71st annual Golden Globe Awards took place on Jan. 12, 2014, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. Here is what this Golden Globe winner said backstage in the Golden Globe Awards press room.
Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Can you talk a little bit about your journey with “Behind the Candelabra”?
Well, I’ll try to shorten it, but I just mentioned, it is true, we were doing “Traffic” in 1999. I played a drug czar, a serious part, and one day Steven [Soderbergh] was looking very pensively, the way he does, looking through me, and he said, “Have you ever thought about playing Liberace?”
And I said, “No, no, that hasn’t crossed my mind.” And I am thinking, as a paranoid actor does in the middle of a part, “Maybe this is the way of a director telling me I am mincing when I walk in this role.”
But Steven saw something, and 10 years later and the process that they found the Scott Thorson book, he got together with Jerry Weintraub as a producer. They got Richard LaGravenese to write it, and during that time I had my whole cancer bout. So this is probably the biggest gift I have ever gotten in my professional career, because coming out of my cancer and not sure if I would ever work again, I was handed this beautiful piece on a silver platter, one of the best parts I have ever had, beautifully written, Steven directing, and Matt Damon from the very beginning has always stayed on.
We had to postpone this picture for about a year, because I wasn’t strong enough to do it, and was convinced probably that it would not happen, but they all stuck to their promise and Steven and that. Then we just put together this incredible production, which has been acknowledged in the Emmys, our production design with Howard [Cummings]. And all of our makeup’s been done, costume done, the incredible job that Matt has done.
As many of you know, as an HBO film, it has been an international theatrical release in most of your countries, has done very well, most recently in England. Matt has been honored with a BAFTA [nomination] for a best supporting actor — kind of hard to figure that one out, supporting actor — and it has just been a wonderful, magical ride. It has been HBO’s largest success in its 40-year history. Most viewers have seen it, and I am just really proud of the work and proud of the time that I had to be able to prepare properly for this.
Were you shocked when you heard your name called?
Well, you know, it is a shock, getting nervous when you become sort of a front-runner, reminded me of going back to when “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” We had nine nominations, and we lost the first four nominations, and then we won the next five. So I was actually probably more nervous tonight than I was at the Emmys because of the kind of momentum it has taken on, and it is bittersweet because I really do share this with Matt [Damon]. This was a twofer. This was a picture of the two of us together.
Each of us made, I think, a complete commitment, and I really wish I could be sharing all of these awards with him, because he had a lot more to gamble than I did. It is fine for somebody my age to reach out and do this character, but for a leading man of his stature to take on this gamble and perform as well as he did is inspirational. So it was a wonderful experience.
What’s next for you? You have had a variety of roles and an extraordinary career. Is there anything you would like to tackle?
I don’t think it is choices. It is always about finding good material, and make good movies and let the parts fall where they may. I have a movie coming out probably in June, directed by Rob Reiner that sort of goes with Diane Keaton. And I have another picture which I am producing that I am in with a British actor named Jerry Irvine.
It is called “The Reach” and probably coming out sometime in the fall. And I have another picture which you’ll hear about is getting announced
What’s the name of the movie?
I can’t. You’ll see it [announced]. Part of the deal. I’d get shot.
Is it more fun playing bad guys or good guys?
Well, I guess it depends who you are. I have always enjoyed playing bad guys much more, because, unfortunately, I don’t know of any good guys. I think probably being a product — I am a little older than baby boomers, but I think since the Vietnam War, quite honestly, a lot of us lost the “good guy” and “bad guy” qualities that my father had in John Wayne and the white hats and the black hats and heroes, not heroes.
I have always been intrigued by the ambivalence of characters. I like to believe that people try to do better, but I am more interested in that kind of ambivalence. I mean, the question more, it is easier to do comedy or drama? Comedy is definitely more difficult, and I don’t know why it doesn’t ever get the credit and acknowledgment come award time, especially Oscars. As you all know, you all cherish a good funny friend. They don’t come along that often.
Who are you going to be celebrating with tonight, and what are you going to be doing to celebrate?
Tonight will be an HBO celebration. Catherine [Zeta-Jones my wife] is home with the kids in middle school back East, so we’ll be doing an HBO celebration with Matt and Rob Lowe, who, I think, is nominated two or three times, for “Killing Kennedy” and the wonderful job he did in our picture and also “Parks and Recreation.” So it will be an HBO party tonight.
For more info: Golden Globe Awards website
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