Amy Morton wasn’t intimidated by the whole Elizabeth Taylor thing when she stepped into the role Taylor made famous in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” The role — of heartbreaking harridan Martha — is intimidating enough on its own.
“Emotionally, physically, it’s a ball-breaker,” said Morton, now starring in the Edward Albee play at Arena Stage, though “I don’t know many actresses that wouldn’t want to tackle it.”
So she was surprised by her own reaction Wednesday on hearing the news of Taylor’s death. “All day I thought about her, and I thought about her during the show,” Morton told us. “It never occurred to me that Elizabeth Taylor would die. She was so huge, her life was so much bigger than anyone else’s.” There was no formal recognition of Taylor’s passing at that evening’s production, though Morton says the cast and crew talked about it a lot.
Though Taylor won an Oscar for the 1966 film, our colleague Peter Marks much prefers Morton’s interpretation, calling her a “lithe, carnivorous. . . wounded bird of prey.” Morton, though, shrugs off comparisons. “There’s no way I look or sound even remotely like Elizabeth Taylor,” she said. “Even if I tried I couldn’t do it like her.”