The Oscar-winning filmmaker reveals he had initially shopped the life story of the flamboyant pianist to top movie executives - but no one was interested in investing the $5 million (£3.13 million) needed to turn the project into a reality, despite the success of 2005's Brokeback Mountain, which featured same-sex love scenes between leading men Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger.
Soderbergh tells TheWrap.com, "Nobody would make it. We went to everybody in town. We needed $5 million. Nobody would do it. They said it was too gay. Everybody. This was after Brokeback Mountain, by the way, which is not as funny as this movie. I was stunned. It made no sense to any of us."
The Traffic director eventually landed an offer from bosses at U.S. cable network HBO - and he's happy to have finally found a home for Behind the Candelabra.
He says, "(HBO) are great and they're really good at what they do, and ultimately I think more people will see it, and that's all you care about. Studios were going, 'We don't know how to sell it.' They were scared."
Behind the Candelabra will star Michael Douglas as the famed entertainer and Matt Damon as his gay lover Scott Thorson.
The Bourne Identity actor Damon recently admitted the film may be too much for his more conservative fans to take as it features a large amount of nudity, telling Playboy magazine, "It's tastefully done... But this movie's not going to be for everyone."