In the digital age of fakery, they can take anybody’s image and put it anywhere, anytime, in any situation. There’s no way you can prove it’s not you, either!
It took a lot of makeup — and some movie magic — to bring Liberace back to life for HBO’s Behind the Candelabra.
It probably won’t come as a surprise that Douglas wasn’t actually playing. But how did the movie make it look so real?
According to the Las Vegas Sun, special effects were used to digitally graft the actor’s head onto the body of Philip Fortenberry, a Juilliard-trained Liberace virtuoso who was the in-house entertainer at the (now closed) Liberace Museum in Las Vegas for years.
“This is a very high honor,” Fortenberry told the Sun. “To have studied Liberace’s repertoire, and played a lot of the same music and had the type of training I’ve had, it is just an honor to be chosen to do this.”
So how did Fortenberry get involved in the project? Former Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular music director Jack Gaughan heard that Soderbergh was looking for someone who could play the piano like Liberace, and he thought of Fortenberry.
“He explained to me that they were looking for a hand double for Michael Douglas and asked me to literally take pictures of my hands, and then take video of my hands at the piano, because Michael Douglas doesn’t play the piano,” Fortenberry told the Sun, adding that Soderbergh also needed someone who could fit into the costumes worn by Douglas.
During filming, “I would be seated at the piano, then they would film Michael Douglas doing a number, then me,” Fortenberry said. “We would do a couple of different takes so they could take my head off my body and put his on. It was all sort of eerie, actually.”