Michael Douglas says 'Behind the Candelabra' was a ''beautiful gift'' after beating cancer.

The 68-year-old actor plays camp pianist Liberace in his first role since overcoming throat cancer - which he was diagnosed with in 2010 - but admits he was initially too eager to dive into the role.

He said: ''I'd had my treatment when [this project] came back to me, it was a beautiful gift.

''I was just so happy to have gotten a clean checkup.

''We were getting ready for the film, and all of a sudden [director] Steven [Soderberg] and [co-star] Matt [Damon] said they had other projects they were going to do.''

While Michael was initially disheartened, he now realises he needed to fully recover his strength before the project could go ahead.

He added to The Hollywood Reporter: ''I was scared I was drifting away. They never fessed up to it - and they did have other projects - but I think they took a look at me and knew I wasn't there yet, and they were absolutely right.

''Still, strengthwise, weightwise, I was another year away. There was a moment of anxiety there, but then a year went by and I was stronger and ready to do it.''