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Interview with Jerry Weintraub

Michael at piano

HBO

Youve worked with the biggest names in entertainment. What keeps you motivated, after all these years?

JERRY WEINTRAUB

I love it. I truly love it. Ive had a tremendous amount of success. Ive been very, very lucky. I love getting up every day, and I love making films and I love doing everything I do. Ive had a wonderful, wonderful life, and Im not going to retire. Ill be seventy-six in September, and Im in good shape. So the way I look at it, I have plenty of time left.

HBO

What was it about the Liberace story that attracted you?

JERRY WEINTRAUB

I knew Liberace, and he was a tortured man. If he lived now, he could have come out of the closet and lived differently. But the fact is that, when he lived, nobody came out of the closet because they would have ruined their careers. So he couldnt come out. And that made his story really interesting. He was such a flamboyant, exciting guy. He was Madonna before Madonna; he was Elton John before Elton John; he was Lady Gaga before Lady Gaga. He was all of those things. And then when we got the script from Richard LaGravenese, we knew we had a great love story. It wasnt just a story. It was a great love story.

"What excites me is story and character. Those are the two things I look for in making a film."

HBO

How do you think audiences will react to the relationship?

JERRY WEINTRAUB

We knew if we did it the right way, that when people watched it, they would forget it was two men, because the situations that Liberace is in with Scott Thorson could be any man and any woman, or any two women. These are just life situations. And this is a perfect time to tell a story like that, with whats going on in our country, with more widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage. People are starting to understand it a lot more in this country.

HBO

Youve heard every pitch in the business. What is it about a project that excites you?

JERRY WEINTRAUB

What excites me is story and character. Those are the two things I look for in making a film. And if you dont have it on paper, youre never going to get it right. The other thing that excites me is working with people like Steven Soderbergh. He and I have a great relationship. That excited me. Working with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon excited me. Working with Richard LaGraveneses script excited me. Working with Marvin Hamlisch excited me. The people involved are so creative and compelling; Id be out of my mind not to do it.

HBO

What was it like, working with HBO?

JERRY WEINTRAUB

Well, the fact is that I love HBO. All the people that I work with there are supportive of the process. And Ive been doing this for a very long time, and I promise you, it doesnt get better than working at HBO. So thats a big part of why I keep working, and a big part of why Im going to do television series now, and why Im involved with HBO. So thats very important.

HBO

What do you hope audiences take away from the film?

JERRY WEINTRAUB

I hope theyll say its a great film - the two actors knocked it out of the ballpark. Soderbergh knocked it out of the park; Jerry knocked it out of the park, Marvin Hamlisch knocked it out of the park. And look what they came up with. Thats what I want.

Behind the Candelabra

HBO Films