When Lifetime’s Elizabeth Taylor biopic, Liz and Dick, aired in November, no one was surprised that it was absolutely awful. Called everything from “an instant classic of unintentional hilarity” to “so terrible you’ll need to ice your face when it’s over to ease the pain of wincing for two hours,” it got slammed as much for its writing (I believe the exact term used was “written in crayon”) as for the performances of its stars. Of COURSE Lindsay Lohan was horrible. And of COURSE Grant Bowler was forgettable. How could it have been otherwise? But hey, at least we got some good drinking game fodder out of it.
But if you found yourself fervently wishing that someone would do an Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton movie—and do it RIGHT, even if it’s a TV movie—then there’s hope: The BBC has been working on one of their own, and they’ve just released the first image of it. And if this pic is anything to go by, it’s going to be WAY better than Lifetime’s tawdry tale.
Starring Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter, Burton and Taylor will depict the notoriously on-again, off-again couple as they teamed up in 1983 for a touring production of the Noel Coward play Private Lives—seven years after they divorced for the second time. Besides the obvious fact that Dominic, known for his work in the excellent television dramas The Wire and The Hour, and Helena, with countless big-time awards and nominations under her belt, are both a caliber of actor that Lindsay and Grant… well, aren’t, they also just LOOK better. Less cheap, I might say. Even the title of the project sounds classier: Rather than using casual nicknames trying to suggest a weird sort of intimacy between the stars and their audience (and just sounding kind of lackadaisical instead), it takes their surnames, which shows us the outward glamour and merely hints at the inner turmoil.
Burton and Taylor is set to air during the fall. To tide you over until then, here’s a clip from the very production of Private Lives the film will focus on:
Tell us: Will you be watching Burton and Taylor?
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s senior editor.