Like 3.4 million other people, I watched Lindsay Lohan try her hand at playing Elizabeth Taylor in Lifetime’s Liz & Dick last night. Like most people my first reaction is to make fun of it, but also like most people, I enjoyed it. (CLICK HERE to read a very good recap of the movie.)
We all know there’s something about a Lifetime movie that’s so bad it’s good. The reason why this works is they don’t aim too high. This Liz & Dick movie was NOT going to be an accurate portrayal of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, or even a complex psychological character study (CLICK HERE to read some of the worst reviews.) It’s really more about our culture’s fascination with Lindsay Lohan than anything else. Lindsay Lohan didn’t sound (she sounded like Lindsay Lohan, sometimes with an accent,) act, or even really look like Elizabeth Taylor, but she was fascinating to watch last night. The movie was more about inside jokes about Lindsay’s headlines over the years: with nods at tabloid headlines, jewels, pills, booze, calling paparazzi to let them know where she is, and hiring her own photographer to take pictures of herself on a boat. After not being able to find work for a while, Lindsay-as-Liz laments how “bored” she is because she’s been working all her life. That’s been a complaint of Lindsay’s throughout all her troubles. Last week on a GMA interview she even said it was “safer” to keep her on set at all times.
But what held the movie all together was the guy who played Richard Burton, Grant Bowler. His roll wasn’t exquisitely written, but he did a smashing job of portraying a masculine emotional-trainwreck to Lindsay Lohan’s Liz in the context of this guilty pleasure movie. But, who is Grant Bowler?
Grant is a 44-year-old actor born in New Zealand and raised in Australia. He’s recently appeared in Ugly Betty and True Blood (he was cast as the Werewolf “Cooter”) in the US and for the past few years has been the host of The Amazing Race Australia. In 2011 he split from Australian actress Roxane Wilson, his wife of nine years with whom he has two children.
Grant spoke to Access Hollywood about the how delays in the production schedule were frustrating:
“There were exercises in patience and there were exercises in tolerance and I believe it (filming of Liz & Dick) could have been smoother at times.
We certainly took our time in a lot of ways, where I would have preferred to be shooting.”
Even though most of these delays were caused by troubles with Lindsay (including a wrecked Porsche,) Grant still fawned about working with her: “Lindsay is great to work with. She’s pretty much Elizabeth Taylor reincarnated.”
He also spoke about the public aspect of Elizabeth and Richard’s love affair to MTV:
“They were the first paparazzi couple. The entire term ‘paparazzi’ became known around the world because of Burton and Taylor. That was the end of it. Really from then until now, studios and the people producing product have lost control controlling the stories around it. And, we have what we have today.
The amazing thing about their relationship was what didn’t happen behind closed doors. One thing that blew my mind shooting the movie was there a scene where Burton forces Taylor to choose between him and her husband, Eddie Fisher. But he did it in real life, and in the movie, in the middle of a dinner party in a home full of their friends. What was remarkable about them was how cavalier, if you like, or how open they were conducting their life. They certainly didn’t hold anything back.”
The real Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in a promotional photo for The Comedians:
Liz & Dick‘s encore showing is tonight on Lifetime at 8/7c.