Jerry Weintraub on Telling a Great Love Story
You’ve worked with the biggest names in entertainment. What keeps you motivated, after all these years?
I love it. I truly love it. I’ve had a tremendous amount of success. I’ve been very, very lucky. I love getting up every day, and I love making films and I love doing everything I do. I’ve had a wonderful, wonderful life, and I’m not going to retire. I’ll be seventy-six in September, and I’m in good shape. So the way I look at it, I have plenty of time left.
What was it about the Liberace story that attracted you?
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 couldn’t 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 wasn’t just a story. It was a great love story.
How do you think audiences will react to the relationship?
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 what’s 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.
You’ve heard every pitch in the business. What is it about a project that excites you?
What excites me is story and character. Those are the two things I look for in making a film. And if you don’t have it on paper, you’re 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 LaGravenese’s script excited me. Working with Marvin Hamlisch excited me. The people involved are so creative and compelling; I’d be out of my mind not to do it.
What was it like, working with HBO?
Well, the fact is that I love HBO. All the people that I work with there are supportive of the process. And I’ve been doing this for a very long time, and I promise you, it doesn’t get better than working at HBO. So that’s a big part of why I keep working, and a big part of why I’m going to do television series now, and why I’m involved with HBO. So that’s very important.
What do you hope audiences take away from the film?
I hope they’ll say it’s 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. That’s what I want.