Michael Douglas: ‘It’s probably more difficult’ to be an actor and openly gay

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Veteran actor Michael Douglas has spoken about gay actors coming out, and said it is “probably a little bit more difficult”, to come out as an actor in Hollywood, and suggested he knew some actors who had stayed in the closet to protect their careers.

Speaking in an interview with ShortList for his latest film Behind the Candelabra, which is about the life of gay American pianist Liberace, and which stars Matt Damon, Douglas suggested he knew some gay actors who were afraid to come out in case they damaged their careers.

He said: “Without naming names, I certainly think there are a couple of people out there who have not come out in the spirit of protecting their careers and livelihoods. It’s probably a little bit more difficult going that way. I think that’s true.”

The 68-year-old star continued to say that he thought things had changed drastically since Liberace was performing, and that “a much smaller minority of people” in the public eye still feel the need to hide their sexuality.

“It’s a much smaller minority of people who think they still have to stay in the closet. It’s quite interesting to see how fast it’s all changed.”

Going on to address the fact that the film will have a limited release in cinemas in the US, and that instead it will be shown on HBO, Douglas stopped short of criticising the studio, but did suggest that it was to do with the “risk” of the possibility of only appealing to a gay audience.

“It wasn’t that. I think the studios, in their infinite wisdom, even with Matt, myself and Soderbergh attached, thought it would only attract a gay audience. And with the cost of marketing movies and making them, they didn’t want to take that risk. The studios are [being criticised so much] right now that I don’t have to pile it on, but so be it. You know, most of them just don’t want to have to deal with a smaller movie that still requires marketing budgets and may not have as big a return.”

Saying he had met Liberace when he was younger, and that he thought with hindsight that he knew he was gay, he said it was “because he brought so much fun, he was so contagious, I don’t think the audience really thought about it. He just made you smile and you felt so happy. You were sucked in and the old ladies didn’t really care about it.”

Oscar winning film director, Steven Soderbergh, previously said that the film was not scheduled to have a theatrical release because film studios turned it down for being “too gay,” and it struggled to find funding.

Matt Damon recently talked about undertaking an intimate romantic scene with Michael Douglas’ character in the film, and said that he was a “wonderful kisser”.

He also said that he never denied rumours of being gay because he didn’t want to insult some of his friends.

The film Behind the Candelabra, will be released to some cinemas on 7 June.