Why Lindsay Lohan Was Cast as Elizabeth Taylor


By Jeremy Kinser

'Liz & Dick' producer Larry Thompson defends the controversial casting of the troubled starlet as the late screen icon in the upcoming Lifetime film biography.

She had already done a photo shoot as Elizabeth Taylor [for Interview magazine in 2006]. Was she already a big fan?
She had already done a photo shoot. She was a fan, and I think that had a lot to do with it. She was a fan for some of the same reasons that I just mentioned earlier. I think she could relate to her.

What were the challenges in getting insurance for Lindsay?
It was an enormous challenge, and we were not sure we were going to be able to get insurance at all, because we not only had to get cast insurance, which insured us from health—meaning accident and sickness—we had to get something called incarceration insurance, because she was on probation and we had to make sure that, if she were to breach that probation, that she wouldn't wind up going to jail and we'd have to close our movie down. That was out of Lloyds of London. So we had a lot of insurance, and I will say that had we not been able to get the insurance, we could not have hired her. But when she walked on to the sound stage, she was the most insured actress who had every walked onto one.

When all these mishaps happened during the filming, like the car crash in June and the paramedics being called to her hotel room, were there any regrets about the casting?
Well, it was too late for me to have regrets. I was in the middle of production. But they were challenges nonetheless. And, you know, producing a movie with Lindsay Lohan is not for the faint of heart. I did turn 50 shades of white.

There were reports that Elizabeth Taylor's original dressing room trailer was loaned to Lindsay during the filming, and was returned with cigarette burns and furniture missing. Was this true?
I rented the trailer for the movie. We used it in the movie. Lindsay Lohan never had any possession to it other than acting in it. So all those reports were just nonsense.

Many of Elizabeth’s fans weren’t happy with your casting Lindsay. What was your reaction to the public outcry?
Well, on one hand, I knew that I couldn't please everybody. But I was surprised that I was called everything from an idiot to a genius. And while the jury's still out on what I am, I think I'm basically a producer. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton‚ now that you've seen the movie you'll understand this‚ they lived such a large life, they had such a large romance, they had such a loud existence of more, more, more, that even the Pope himself denounced them. It required a contemporary actress who could understand that, who could bring her youthful, generational audience to a movie who might not know who Elizabeth Taylor is, and to sort of be large and have a young generation understand that. Living on the world stage might be good reading, but with living that life comes peril and danger. I think Lindsay Lohan brings all that to her role. And while I go on and on about how great Elizabeth Taylor was and how well Lindsay Lohan portrays her, I think that Grant Bowler as Richard Burton is the cherry on the sundae.

I agree with you. I think Grant anchors the film and conveys the essence of Burton well.
I think he brings to the role of Richard Burton such a gravitas. And I think he anchors them as a couple, and really focuses the audience on the seriousness of who they are. And hopefully, once people get past the curiosity of Lindsay Lohan, and once they start to feel the reality of their love and tumultuous relationship, it settles down into a real movie. And it's interesting, I embrace everybody's reasons for coming to see our movie, whether it's to see a train wreck in their minds or whatever, to see Lindsay Lohan fail or succeed, or whatever reason they come, or to come to see Elizabeth Taylor or Richard Burton. But I think when it's over, they're going to see a performance by two actors that they're going to be really delighted by. I think Grant Bowler as Richard Burton steals your heart, and I think Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor breaks it.

Tags: Television