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Their love affair entranced the world. Now Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s tempestuous relationship will be recreated by Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West in a BBC film.
The award-winning actress and the charismatic Mr West will play the pair as they were in 1983, reunited for a US production of Noel Coward’s Private Lives.
Rachel Weisz, 42, was originally tipped for the role but she reportedly pulled out.
Mr West, 43, is best known for his roles in American TV series The Wire and The Hour on the BBC.
The BBC4 film will capture the explosive relationship through the prism of playing star-crossed lovers on stage, with audiences desperate to know if they would reconcile.
Miss Bonham Carter, 46, said: ‘Elizabeth was 51, still every inch a star, still beautiful and they still needed each other, but this was professional.
‘They were doing Noel Coward’s Private Lives on stage, playing a couple who used to be married.
‘People wondered if they were still in love and whether they’d be playing themselves or their characters.’
Burton and Taylor earned $1million each for the limited run playing Coward’s Elyot and Amanda, a divorced couple who get back together, leaving their new partners.
‘It sounds familiar and has echoes of their own marriages and relationship,’ observed Miss Bonham Carter, who won a Bafta award for her role as the Queen Mother in The King’s Speech. However, she said that she won’t attempt an impersonation of the Hollywood icon.
She said: ‘I look nothing like her for a start but it’s about capturing the essence of them at a particular time.
‘She was and continues to be a fascinating woman and she was a huge star. There’s no one comparable around now.’
Burton and Taylor fell in love on the set of the 1963 movie Cleopatra. Both had partners and they eventually married in 1964. After ten tempestuous years, they exhausted each other and divorced in 1974.
But they were soul mates and within a year they were hitched, only to break again fifteen months later.
‘But Elizabeth and Richard still cared for each other’, said Miss Bonham Carter. - Daily Mail