British actor Dominic West took up drinking and smoking to excess in a bid to perfect Richard Burton's distinct vocal tones for a new drama. The Wire star plays the late actor opposite Helena Bonham Carter as Dame Elizabeth Taylor in an upcoming British TV movie called Burton and Taylor, and he went to extreme lengths to imitate the notoriously hard-living thespian.
He tells Britain's Radio Times, "Burton has the most beautiful mellifluous voice you've ever heard, which put the fear of God into me... When I drank and smoked all night, it worked pretty well but I didn't have the stamina to keep it up."
Carter recently revealed she consulted an astrologer for advice on playing Burton's on/off wife, but West admits he didn't follow her lead, adding, "Helena gave me the number but somehow I never got around to it."
However, West did prepare for the role by taking a trip to visit Burton's hometown in Wales, telling Britain's Guardian, "I went to his birthplace. The thing about Burton is, he's one of the most romantic actors ever, because his story is so romantic. You really get that when you go to where he grew up, in Pontrhydyfen, which is a beautiful place. It's very like Switzerland, where he spent much of his life."
Kooky actress Helena Bonham Carter consulted an astrologer before playing late Hollywood icon Dame Elizabeth Taylor. The Harry Potter star steps into the Oscar winner's shoes in new British TV movie Burton & Taylor, opposite The Wire's Dominic West as the star's on/off husband Richard Burton.
Carter admits she turned to a stargazing pal for some spiritual tips on how to portray Taylor.
Carter tells British newspaper The Guardian, "I went to an astrologer... I've got a really good friend called Darby Costello. If I can't make a decision, I go to Darby and... she won't tell me what to do, but she can distil characters.
"She knew Elizabeth. She'd not actually met her, but she'd distilled her. She said that Elizabeth was a big Pisces, and was often attracted to people who were broken - she needed to heal them. This was her take on Burton: when she got down, she always had the capacity to get up, whereas he was laden with guilt, and obsessed with death... I said to Darby, 'Can you just see if we would have got on?' And the first thing she said about me and her was that she would have felt very safe with me."
Carter also took samples of both Taylor and Burton's handwriting to an aunt who specialises in graphology, adding, "My aunt said he was more of an academic than an actor. He should have been an academic."
British actor Toby Stephens has won praise from theatre critics for his role in a West End revival of a play which once starred his famous parents Dame Maggie Smith and Sir Robert Stephens. Stephens' mother and father won rave reviews for their portrayal of sparring ex-lovers in a 1972 London production of Noel Coward's Private Lives, and now their son has followed in their footsteps by scoring his own glowing write-ups.
The Die Another Day star plays the role his father tackled more than 40 years ago in the new production with Anna Chancellor, which opened at London's Gielgud Theatre on Wednesday night (03Jul13), and Henry Hitchings of the London Evening Standard branded the show a "deliciously fresh revival".
Hitchings calls Stephens a "superb comic actor" and compares him to Chancellor's Four Weddings and a Funeral co-star Hugh Grant, adding, "I can't recall having seen him give a better performance than he does here."
Charles Spencer of Britain's Daily Telegraph gave the play five stars out of five, writing, "This is a gloriously entertaining evening, opulently designed... and offering two hours of comic bliss", while The Independent's Paul Taylor concludes by calling the new production of Private Lives "the best in a decade".
Other high-profile stars to have tackled the lead roles in Private Lives include Dame Elizabeth Taylor and her on/off husband Richard Burton.
Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West, who are playing the famous couple in a new British TV series, were in the audience for the new show's opening night, and The Wire actor also gave the production a good review, saying, "It was funny... It's the perfect play and they were the perfect people doing it. I've never seen it before so it was great to see it."
"It was blond to play Burton but I was worried I looked like (Australian cricketer) Shane Warne. I wanted to shave it off but my wife said no, so now I've tried to wash the dye out, it is brown and blond." British actor Dominic West suffered a hair disaster after going blond to play Richard Burton in an upcoming BBC biopic.
Helena Bonham Carter is getting back into fantasy again, this time as Cinderella's fairy godmother in the live-action adaptation of the classic fairy tale. Bonham Carter has played her fair share of fantasy characters, from Harry Potter's Bellatrix Lestrange to the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, so it's safe to say she knows what she's doing. She's also knocks pretty much everything she does out of the park; Cinderella should be no different.
The film will be directed by Kenneth Branagh and will star Downton Abbey's Lily James as Cinderella, Cate Blanchett as her evil stepmother, and Game of Thrones' Richard Madden as Prince Charming. Thank the old gods and the new that Madden will make his way back into our hearts after being so gut-wrenchingly torn from our small screens.
We haven't seen Bonham Carter since she played the horrible and hilarious Madame Thénardier in Tom Hooper's Les Misérables, but don't think that means she hasn't been busy. At the start of next month, she'll be seen alongside Johnny Depp in Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger.
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Liz & Dick, the Lifetime movie chronicling the relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, didn't do so well. But everyone loves Elizabeth Taylor, so the story is getting a second chance. This time BBC America is taking on the challenge with Burton and Taylor, and things are already looking up — they cast Dominic West as Burton and Helena Bonham Carter as Taylor.
Lindsay Lohan wasn't quite able to pull off the Liz Taylor we all know and love, but Carter has been around for a while and has the acting chops to do Taylor justice. The movie doesn't premiere on BBC America until fall, but until then, let the debate about who will be the better Liz begin!
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British actress Helena Bonham Carter is dedicating all her time to researching Dame Elizabeth Taylor as she prepares to play the late superstar in a new U.K. TV drama. Carter will play the actress in upcoming mini-series Burton and Taylor opposite The Wire's Dominic West as the star's on/off husband Richard Burton, and the Harry Potter regular admits she is enjoying learning all she can about the screen icon.
She tells Britain's Vogue magazine, "The research is what I get off on. My mum is a psychologist and I'm very similar to her. I love the challenge of working a character out. Ultimately, I don't agree to do a film because I think it's going to be a success. I do it because I think I'm going to learn something from the character I'm playing. I'm not sure what yet, but I know I am going to learn something from Elizabeth. I know that, somehow, I'm going to grow as a soul from playing her."
Carter goes on to insist she has learned to be less critical of her work and enjoy her job as an actress, adding, "There's less pressure on it. Which, of course, means I do it better. But I also find it's less important to me now whether I'm c**p or good. I take myself so much less seriously than I used to. I used to be so self-critical, it was painful. Now I think, 'OK, so I acted badly today. I'll try and act better tomorrow.' I mean, for God's sake, it's not like I'm a surgeon or anything. It doesn't really matter, does it?"
Burton and Taylor will air in the U.K. later this year (13).
Jessica Chastain dazzled at the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday ( 21May13) as she attended the 50th anniversary screening of Cleopatra wearing a diamond and sapphire Bulgari necklace once owned by Elizabeth Taylor. The movie star hit the red carpet in a basic white Versace gown so as to highlight the priceless gems around her neck - a gift to Taylor from her then-lover and Cleopatra co-star Richard Burton, who fell in love with the screen beauty on the set.
Chastain still couldn't believe she had been chosen to model the great movie dame's jewels at Cannes, telling reporters, "I call them the Cleopatra jewels because Richard Burton bought them for Elizabeth Taylor when they fell in love when they were shooting Cleopatra. I'm so excited to be wearing them.
"They looked so fabulous on her and she was a movie star from her head to her toes. That kind of glamorous star doesn't exist anymore but the diamonds do."
Chastain hosted the special screening Taylor's son Christopher Wilding and Burton's daughter Kate.
Actress Jessica Chastain is teaming up with the children of Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton to host a special screening of the Hollywood stars' classic Cleopatra at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival in France. Taylor's son Christopher Wilding and Burton's daughter Kate Burton will unveil a restored version of the film at the special event on 21 May (13) to mark Cleopatra's 50th anniversary.
Wilding, who often visited his mother on the set of the 1963 historical epic, says, "My mother would have been thrilled about this spectacular celebration of Cleopatra's anniversary."
Jewellery purchased from the late actress' estate, including a hand-held gold and turquoise mirror featured in Cleopatra, will be on display, while Chastain will model the famous emerald and diamond necklace Burton gave Taylor during the three-year production in Rome, Italy.
Italian jewellers at Bulgari are also debuting a piece inspired by Taylor, which will be auctioned off later this year (13) to benefit the star's Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
Blame (thank?) the Internet: squeal-inducing, rapid-clapping, jump-up-and-down-because-you-can't-contain-yourself-and-must-immediately-proceed-to-Facebook-to-gush adorableness is all the rage. Cute cat, cute puppy, cute koala bear, cute malnourished komodo dragon — as long as a camera captures a wide-eyed creature at the right angle, any member of the animal kingdom can woo eager audiences.
So it makes sense that Aardman Animation (Pirates! Band of Misfits, Chicken Run) would revive their most adorable creation for his own feature film. Confirmed by French production company Studio Canal, Aardman will produce a big screen vehicle for its popular character, Shaun the Sheep. Awwwwwwwwwwwwww.
Shaun first appeared in the Academy Award-winning short film A Close Shave, starring the iconic claymation duo Wallace and Gromit. Knowing full well that the fluffy sheep's adorable antics couldn't be contained to a 30-minute short, Shaun was later spun off in his own television show, Shaun the Sheep. Forty episodes of the kids show aired between 2007 and 2010, with a handful of additional episodes currently in production.
The Shaun the Sheep movie will be directed by Aardman collaborators Richard Starzak and Mark Burton, and will see the titular character and his sheepish flock head to the big city to rescue their farmer. A release date was not part of the official announcement.
With "cute" all the rage, there's no better time to translate Shaun for the big screen. Sorry, Meme Cats — the swooning landscape of the Internet needs a little more wool.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
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