Michael Douglas claimed Steven Spielberg stopped him from receiving a best actor award for HBO’s “Behind the Candelabra” at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
“Steven Spielberg was president of the Cannes Film Festival the year that I was there at Cannes. The rumor was that I was sort of favored for the best actor award and that he put the kibosh on that because it was an HBO film — a film for television even though it had played theatrically,” Douglas told Benicio del Toro during their Variety Actors on Actors chat.
Spielberg has been outspoken in his stance that movies premiering on TV and streaming services should not qualify for Oscar nominations and pushed for stricter rules on theatrical releases for the films. “Behind the Candelabra” was an HBO Films production that premiered at Cannes in 2013 and received a theatrical release a couple of weeks later. Bruce Dern ended up winning the Cannes best actor award for “Nebraska,” and Douglas later took home a Golden Globe and Emmy for his performance as Liberace in the biopic by Steven Soderbergh.
“My feeling is that they’ve got to really loosen this up. Certainly it can play in a theater for a week or two, but then it should be entitled to be treated as a movie,” Douglas said.
The actor added that nearly every studio turned down “Behind the Candelabra” before HBO stepped up to distribute it.
Spielberg declined to comment to Variety on Douglas’ claim.
“Actors on Actors” will air on PBS June 18 and 20.