Lindsay Lohan was hired to play Elizabeth Taylor on Lifetime’s upcoming biopic “Liz & Dick” because she’s “dangerous,” she could seriously relate to the child star who grew up, was being hounded by paparazzi, and did some heavy drinking, because Lohan will bring to the movie younger viewers who only knew Liz Taylor as that odd looking old lady in the wheelchair next to Michael Jackson, and because it would make his mother proud, the show’s exec producer told somewhat stunned Reporters Who Cover Television on Wednesday.
“Producing a movie with Lindsay Lohan is not for the faint of heart,” Larry Thompson said, stating the obvious, early on in the phone conference call.
Thompson did the phoner to promote the bioflick’s Nov. 25 premiere; while Lohan stars as Liz, New Zealander Grant Bowler plays acclaimed thespian and two-time Taylor husband Richard Burton. The movie covers their nearly quarter of a century relationship, starting with their meeting and affair on the set of that orgy of excess that was 20th Century Fox’s “Cleopatra,” their dumping of respective spouses, marriage, divorce, re-marriage and re-divorce.
Though hasn’t even been reviewed by critics yet — they haven’t been able to see it — “Liz & Dick” already may be the most-written about Lifetime movie ever, what with Lohan having gotten into a car wreck during production, repeatedly shown up late — and, oh yeah, there was that time she was in her hotel room and not responding, and someone called 911 and paramedics showed up.
La Lohan assured Barbara Walters, who’d visited the set thinking she was getting a major interview, that it was just one of those silly misunderstandings in which she needed a 15 minute nap, and they thought she was dead. Hate when that happens.
“When we finally decided to hire her, we had serious challenges to deal with… due to her probation and her history,” Thompson said matter of factly, about Lohan.
“We had to make a deal where there were pages and pages of ‘what if’ clauses…What if there is a car accident, What if there is a violation of her probation [and] she would be incarcerated. Those ‘what ifs’ were plenty.”
“But through insurance — and I will add she might be the most insured actress who ever walked on a sound stage — we tried to insure ourselves against things that could, and in fact did, happen.”
He noted, “I’ve certainly worked with actresses whose behavior during production was less problematic than Lindsay,” but insisted she was perfectly cast.
Taylor and Lohan have so much in common, Thompson pointed out. The movie opens when Taylor is 29-years-old — Lohan is 26.
Both were child stars who grew up not knowing much about the outside world, and hounded by paparazzi. Famed Italian director Federico Fellini actually coined the phrase “paparazzi” when he saw the photographers on motorcycles buzzing around her and Burton taking photographs, Thompson told the reporters, which appeared to be news to most of them. Plus, Thompson added, Liz was also famous for her boozing.
Plus, Liz Taylor had, and Lohan has, “a reckless and wanton disregard for the norm” which people “find…fascinating to watch,” Thompson said. “[Lohan] literally at this time in her life knows no boundaries. And that becomes dangerous, that becomes exciting.”
Elizabeth Taylor differs from Lohan in one respect, Thompson acknowledged: “Elizabeth Taylor had extraordinary beauty.”
Thompson comes with his own strange connection to Taylor. He’s been obsessed with her since he was a child because his mother used to drill it into his head every year on her birthday that it was also the birthday of Taylor, “the most beautiful woman in the world.”
So naturally, Thompson and wife named their now 10-year old daughter Taylor, after Liz. “My mother drilled Elizabeth Taylor into me my whole life and when my daughter was born… we said, ‘We’ve got to name her ‘Taylor’,” he explained, as though that made sense.
And, he cast Taylor as Richard Burton’s daughter by a previous wife in the flick — also casting his son as Liz Taylor’s son with actor Michael Wilding, a.k.a. Husband No. 2.
And, now that the ordeal is over, Thompson said when people ask him if the trial by fire was worth the result, his response is, “I think my mother would be proud.”