In Steven Soderbergh’s 2013 film Behind the Candelabra, Michael Douglas portrayed the famous American pianist Liberace. The biopic co-starred Matt Damon as the notably flamboyant performer’s lover Scott Thorson and, while it ultimately went on to win plenty of Golden Globe and Emmy nominations and awards, it premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. For despite its airing on HBO and qualifying for the television awards categories, it was a film — so it was included in that year’s Cannes lineup.
The movie played in contention for the coveted Palme d’Or, but ultimately didn’t win it. Nor, for that matter, was Douglas recognized for his work in the picture, and according to a recent interview with Variety, he claims that this was because of Cannes film jury panelist Steven Spielberg. As IndieWire reports, the 74-year-old actor sat down with Benicio del Toro for Variety‘s “Actor on Actor” series to discuss their respective careers. When Del Toro noted that Behind the Candelabra was at Cannes, Douglas made his claim:
It was a movie, because it was in the movie theaters. It was shown theatrically around the world. So I don’t want to say nothing, but Steven Spielberg was the president of the Cannes Film Festival [jury] that year. And the word was, I was the favorite for the best actor award. He put the kibosh on that, because it was an HBO film. So when I now see this argument and beef about Showtime or Netflix, in this case, doing feature films, I think they’ve got to get this resolved.
In case you’re wondering what Douglas is alluding to here with his comments about Spielberg and television, look no further than the esteemed director’s comments about Netflix movies competing for the Oscars. He complained about it following the 2018 Oscars telecast and upped the ante a year later with an apparent campaign to change the submissions rules. This eventually didn’t happen, and Spielberg more recently caught heat for his apparent hypocrisy when he aligned himself with Apple’s new streaming efforts.
As for Douglas’ claims about Spielberg sinking his allegedly assured Cannes win in 2013, who knows?