Despite a resume that includes screenwriting duties for directors such as Clint Eastwood, Jonathan Demme, Barbra Streisand and Terry Gilliam, Richard LaGravenese still sounds a little breathless as he describes the call he got from friend and previous collaborator (on “Erin Brockovich”) Steven Soderbergh.
“He said ‘I have the rights to the Liberace biography. I’m not kidding. Are you interested?’ ” recalls LaGravenese, leading to the much Emmy-nommed and critically lauded HBO film “Behind the Candelabra.”
Even more music to the writer’s ears were the words: “Don’t be afraid of long scenes with lots of dialogue,” which LaGravenese says was Soderbergh’s way of saying “this film is going to be about character.”
In LaGravenese’s view, “character” was the connection point for the writer and director. “We were on the same page from the beginning,” says LaGravenese, “which was about five years ago. We both loved the cosmetic surgery aspect and we knew that was going to be a centerpiece. I think I received a couple of pages of notes per year as the project developed. But most importantly, we knew that you had to believe in this as a story about two people who loved each other. That never changed.”- Steven Gaydos