Rachel Weisz cast as 1980s-era Elizabeth Taylor: good choice or meh?


It feels like every few years, some blonde actress is cast as Marilyn Monroe in some kind of movie or TV movie or miniseries attempting to glamourize her tragic life. And the thing is… I don’t think I’ve ever seen an actress really act the pants off the Marilyn role. They usually come across as some sad drag version of Marilyn. But I’ve always wondered why there aren’t more films and miniseries about Elizabeth Taylor’s life, because it was a lot more fun, more dramatic, and there are always actresses out there who could do a half-decent Liz. I always thought that Catherine Zeta-Jones probably could have done Liz. Helena Bonham-Carter did Liz and she got high marks. And now it’s Rachel Weisz’s turn. And honestly, I don’t hate that? It totally fits.

Rachel Weisz is stepping into some very iconic shoes. On Monday, it was announced that the Academy Award-winning actress, 49, has been cast as Elizabeth Taylor in the upcoming biopic A Special Relationship. The film will document the late star’s work advocating for HIV/AIDS awareness, which began in the 1980s, when Taylor hired Roger Wall, a gay man who grew up in the South, as her personal assistant, Variety reports.

The film, written by Simon Beaufoy, who won an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, is based on hours of interviews and conversations with those who knew the star, and has been described as a “never-before-seen portrait of the real woman behind the violet eyes,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. A Special Relationship will be directed by the female directing duo Bert & Bertie, and produced by See-Saw Films as well as Barbara Berkowitz, Tim Mendelson and Quinn Tivey, trustees of the Elizabeth Taylor Estate/House of Taylor Trust.

“Audiences are clearly fascinated by the private lives of iconic Hollywood stars,” said See-Saw Film’s Iain Canning and Emile Sherman in a statement, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “There is no one more iconic than Elizabeth Taylor, and Simon Beaufoy has written a role that shines a light on Elizabeth’s humor and humanity which will be beautifully brought to life through the extraordinary talents of Rachel Weisz. At its heart, A Special Relationship is a story of friendship. A Special Relationship is a celebration of how friendships can change people’s lives, and how Elizabeth helped change the world.”

[From People]

*Whispering*… I would imagine it was easier for everyone involved to get the life rights to Roger Wall rather than try to deal with Rock Hudson’s estate, you know? I don’t doubt that Elizabeth was very close to her assistant. She probably adored him and doted on him and he was a major influence on her. But I worry that Rock Hudson and Montgomery Clift will be written out of the narrative! Elizabeth was dear friends with many gay men over her lifetime, and her work on HIV/AIDS came to fruition shortly around Rock Hudson’s AIDS-related death. Anyway… I bet Rachel will do a good job as Elizabeth! I hope Rachel is prepared to work with dozens of yapping little dogs.

Elizabeth Taylor, circa 1954

The EE British Academy Film Awards winners

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red and WENN.

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64 Responses to “Rachel Weisz cast as 1980s-era Elizabeth Taylor: good choice or meh?”

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  1. Erinn says:

    Weisz is looking more like Drew Barrymore than she does Liz. But who knows – if the styling is good she might be able to pull it off.

    • Steph says:

      Wut?! Weiss is freaking beautiful. Lol I love Rachel so these comments triggered me. I’m still waiting for the Constantine sequel!

      • Alexandria says:

        Lol I fell in love with Rachel after the first Mummy.

      • Erinn says:

        Lol, I didn’t really mean it as a dig – they just look similar in a ‘related’ sort of way.

        I was super distracted by her tiny eyebrows in the mummy – but she WAS stunning. And I believe I read that the eyebrows were to fit in with the era? But her face was breathtaking in a sort of ethereal way.

        I also loved Constantine, but funny enough I didn’t even clue in that it was her in it. I was probably like 15 when that came out, and I remember watching it multiple times, but I wasn’t into the whole celebrity gossip thing back then, and didn’t really pay attention to celebrities. Keanu in that movie, though? *Chef’s kiss*

      • escondista says:

        her eyebrows were so awful in that film though. Thought she was so beautiful in The Constant Gardener.

      • A says:

        Her eyebrows in the first Mummy movie threw me off SO damn much that I couldn’t even recognize her between the first and the second films. She did not look like herself at ALL.

      • tealily says:

        She looked SO completely different with those eyebrows. They were pretty accurately period specific, but it took me ages to even realize she was the same woman.

      • Marjiscott says:

        What? This is silly! Rachel is a lovely actress.
        But she is not a stunningly beautiful person that made men gasp when they met her, like Warren Beatty did while filming “The Only Game in Town”.
        I know that movie was a clunker, I’m talking about Elizabeth’s great beauty here.
        Rachel is lovely, I guess we will see what they do with her….

      • Harla says:

        Omg! I thought I was the only one pining for a Constantine sequel.

    • Snowslow says:

      Come again?! We have very different glasses lol.
      To me Weisz is otherworldly beautiful whereas Barrymore is a cute woman with access to a lot of cosmetics and treatments. Whole different leagues.

      • Erinn says:

        Like I said to Steph, I didn’t mean it as a slight or anything. I just think they look like they could be related – the face shape and the center part hair, and the eyebrow shaping in the photos above give me Drew vibes.

        I think with the right styling she could probably pull it off – but I also think Liz Taylor was kind of in a league of her own. She was just so interesting to look at – she had an interesting spark. Probably her eyes are the main source of that, but either way, she was something special. Not to say Weisz isn’t special either.

    • Ali says:

      Her mouth is similar to Drew’s. I see it.

    • Astrid says:

      I thought the same thing? sort of a Drew Barrymore feeling. Usually Rachel is an incredibly gorgeous woman

  2. Tiffany says:

    The eyes are everything for me. When I watch a color film of Elizabeth Taylor’s, I could just swim in them. They were so beautiful and expressive.

  3. Keekee says:

    Who watched Liz and Dick??? With Lindsay Lohan I am still convinced that tragic mess was an April’s fools joke.

    • Char says:

      That was more offensive than Kim Kardashian using Liz Taylor as inspo for the Kris Humphries wedding.

    • Nightsky says:

      Yup, worst joke ever! I only saw a brief clip of the movie and was so disgusted I could not bring myself to watch the movie. Or was it a tv show? It’s the kind of thing you watch with an equally snarky pal and a bottle of wine, and just let the hilarity and bitchiness rip.

  4. Alexandria says:

    I thought Lily Collins could look like her but I’m not sure if she can act. Also it’s 80s Liz. CZJ could pull it off. Rachel could surprise us.

    • holly hobby says:

      Lily Collins is a maybe. She was quite good as Fantine in the BBC version of Les Miserables (the not singing version).

    • Adrien says:

      Lily is too young to play 80s Liz. She 30 now but she still looks like a teenager. She’s more Audrey than Liz.

    • Erinn says:

      I had seen that dumb snow white (?) movie she was in early in her career, and she was bad. But I watched the Ted Bundy movie she was in, and she’d improved a ton. I couldn’t get over how much the styling suited her at the time, either.

  5. wellsie says:

    How could one move through life with a belt like the one Elizabeth is wearing in the first image?

  6. Ariela says:

    Can someone please explain Elizabeth Tailor’s “violet” eyes? Because they don’t look violet to me, but that’s how they get described more often than not.

    • GirlMonday says:

      If you’re talking about the color pic of her in the green dress, that was a black and white pic that was technicolored, if that helps.

      • Ariela says:

        No,I mean in general, in all pictures I’ve seen of her, even Googling “Elizabeth Taylor violet eyes” her eyes look either blue, or somewhere between green and blue.
        Beautiful woman and beautiful eyes in any case, but just curious… maybe this is where I find out I’m colour blind 🙂

    • Janey says:

      Oh! I was researching random eye colors and read something interesting – that her eyes weren’t really violet but rather a very striking blue. So at times it was so vivid, it almost seemed violet but in reality, they were not. I instantly searched for photos to confirm this and I thought, wow – that’s pretty accurate.

      • yellow says:

        I’m thinking they were dark blue, like my husband’s eyes. I never met or saw anyone with dark blue eyes before I met him (mine are light blue). Kind of a deep denim-indigo blue. A very rare and not oft discussed color. So perhaps ???

    • Erinn says:

      I’m not sure, to be honest. I was thinking about that earlier – and I think some of it is when the photos have been colorized, it’s REALLY hard to make it match. Plus, photography has come a LONG way over the decades. Old photos might not really do her justice, and color pigments can condense or spread out as your pupil changes size.

      Eye color can shift with age, as well. It doesn’t always happen, but I think there’s a higher chance in light eyed people. I’m not talking a big change – that should be looked at by a dr. But my dad for example has blue eyes, but you can pick up more of a blue-green in them now. Violet eyes are possible, though relatively rare. It involves a specific level of melanin, but depending on eye makeup, shirt color, etc, certain tones will show up more. I remember watching National Velvet a ton as a kid – and her eyes definitely had a slight purple kind of oomph. It’s still obviously some form of blue, but the amount of gray in it is where I think the violet leaning tone comes from.

      I think some of the problem is that when we hear violet we think VIOLET. But it’s really just a variation of blue.

    • Sophia’sSideEye says:

      I read that it’s a type of birth “defect,” not really a defect because it’s considered attractive like with dimples. I’m going off of memory here, but it was something like they are blue eyes but you can see the veins underneath the blue so they look violet? I also read she had two rows of eyelashes. This could all be internet disinformation though. All I can say is I’m sure Liz was gorgeous in person and people were looking for ways to explain it. Lol

    • anony7 says:

      Her eyes were a deep shade of blue (evident in all her movies, photos, etc.). I don’t recall exactly where I first read this, but I have read that the “violet” tag came about because in the first half of the 20th century “violet” (as in violet-blue) was a popular description/adjective in American popular lexicon, for interior decorating, illustration, character descriptions in fiction and nonfiction, etc. So back then someone (a journalist or publicist) fancifully described her darkish blue eyes as “violet” … and it stuck.

    • Bread and Circuses says:

      The public’s definition of words changes over time. “Violet” used to apply to blue shades as well as purple shades, because violets (i.e. the flower) have a range of colours.

      These days, we equate the word violet only with the colour purple (probably because of the ROYGBIV mnemonic for rainbows), but her eyes were always blue.

  7. Deedee says:

    Just caught a part of A Place in the Sun last night. Taylor was radiant. Montgomery Clift was broody as heck. And Shelley Winters? Her acting was amazing.

  8. Lisabella says:

    Rachel is a good actress…good not great. She is attractive NOT PRETTY

  9. Lena says:

    She doesn’t look that much like Liz but who would be better? Maybe jennifer Connelly with a major eyebrow pluck.

  10. Jessica says:

    I love her! I love her in the movie, The Lobster, which also has Olivia Coleman in it. If you haven’t watched … it’s a gem of a movie!

  11. DS9 says:

    Rachel bagged noted curmudgeon Daniel Craig plus I found her captivating in the Constant Gardener so I can definitely see this.

    Also, that odd Hugh Jackman movie.

  12. Piptopher says:

    Margret Qualley would have been a good pick. I don’t here acting chops too much but she’s impressed me with everything I’ve seen.

    • Maggie says:

      GREAT casting choice! I can totally see that. I mean, anything is better than LiLo but M Qualley has the graceful quality Ms. Taylor embodied.

    • Mia4s says:

      For a young Taylor, sure. But this is 1980s Taylor. Weisz is perfect.

    • Bella Bella says:

      Except Liz Taylor was quite petite and well-endowed and Qualley is quite tall with more of a dancer’s body. Physically it’s as wrong as that busty chick with hips (Jennifer Love Hewitt) who played Audrey Hepburn.

  13. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    From about junior high on, people always told me I looked like Liz lol. Of course I never believed, but it came at me almost daily until you know, you get old enough and stop getting compliments ha! Someone said it was her eyes, and I agree. Hers were almost a luminescent violet. Mine have always been very pale blue. But now my eyelids are losing a gravity battle. It’s so exciting.

  14. Brenda says:

    I have always thought Molly Ephraim looks just like her

  15. Sierra says:

    Rachel is beautiful but doesn’t have the sexy charisma Liz had.

    Don’t think this will work out.

  16. inas says:

    Michelle Williams as marline was fantastic. she captured her very well.
    I think mother of all dragons would have been great as Liz Taylor Emilia Clark or even claire Foy.

    • Nickie says:

      came here to say that too. I was positively surprised when I watched my week with marilyn. but rachel is one of my female crushes so I watch anything with her;)

  17. Keira says:

    How about some actual photos of 1980s Liz?

    • MsGnomer says:

      Google search “General Hospital” and Liz Taylor. You’ll see some wonderful shots of her as Helena Cassadine. Absolutely stunning. At the time, her appearance on that soap made huge headlines.

  18. Kathy Kack says:

    She is PERFECT. She is such a talented amazing actress. LOVE LOVE HER!!

  19. sandra says:

    I know they can do amazing things with make-up but I just don’t think she possesses the overall essence. It would be hard to find a good fit since today’s actresses look very different from the women of that era.

  20. Adrien says:

    Well yeah. If Jennifer Love Hewitt can play Audrey Hepburn then…

  21. Katebush says:

    These look like photos of 1950s Liz which Rachel could resemble but I don’t see Rachel as 1980s Liz at all

  22. Bella A says:

    Whereas I think Lily Collins and Jennifer Connolly resemble Liz, Lily is too young and Jennifer doesn’t have Liz’s charisma. Rachel is very beautiful, but I don’t get the choice. As someone stated above, Michelle Williams as Marilyn was fantastic!! Someone mentioned Margaret Qualley, but what about Andie MacDowell her Mom who would be closer to Liz’s age. Andie definitely has charisma!

  23. Ali says:

    Delta Burke for 1980s Liz Taylor

  24. Cindy says:

    Doesn’t look a lot like her, but I’m sure she’ll pull it off. I don’t recall a single Weisz performance I didn’t like. She’s terrific.

  25. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    There are some people who just can’t be duplicated, and Elizabeth Taylor is one of them. So any choice will feel “wrong.” I guess Weisz is as good a pick as any, but all actresses will come up short.

  26. Brenda says:

    Does anyone but me think that Molly Ephraim looks JUST like her ?

  27. Nightsky says:

    Nooooo! RW is lovely and a fine actress but she’s no Liz Taylor. I think they should find an unknown actress, one who truly resembles Liz in looks, mannerisms and voice.

  28. Cali says:

    I will watch Rachel in any movie, portraying anyone. She is captivating and is my favorite, hands down. The Constant Gardener has always been my favorite movie and she’s amazing in it.

  29. Cali says:

    I did some image searches and was shocked at how much she looked like Stockard Channing in many of them during the 80s. Wow.

  30. Jane says:

    Rachel is gorgeous, no two ways about it. But she does not have the fire that Liz had even while buttering a piece of toast.