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A few months ago, we learned that the BBC was putting together a co-production with BBC America based on the lives of actress Elizabeth Taylor and actor Richard Burton and the time after the two ended an epic romance. The TV movie will take a look at the couple’s changing attitudes toward one another over the years, set against the backdrop of a play the two appeared together in during 1983, an appearance which was ultimately tumultuous, as the first look at Burton and Taylor shows.
The clip gives us a good look at what actors Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West are bringing to the table and it isn’t always pretty, but it is remarkably riveting. The show gives us plenty of shots of the two characters arguing, as well as one in which Burton admits that he and Taylor are addicts—of love (the two were known for a passionate, alcohol-ridden romance, as well). Still, there are tender moments between the two, especially when they seem to unite after dealing with poor reviews and a cruel crowd.
The one thing that I do notice is that Bonham Carter looks a lot more like herself and a lot less like Elizabeth Taylor when she’s moving about in the preview. Earlier, BBC photographer Gustavo Papaleo put together an astonishing photo of Bonham Carter and West that reveals the incredible job the makeup artist did to make Tim Burton’s wife look like Liz Taylor.
Still, very few previews (and projects for that matter) are perfect, and Burton and Taylor looks as if it will bring far more to the table than Lifetime’s recent TV movie featuring the famous co-stars and lovers, Liz & Dick. That flick famously starred Lindsay Lohan and Defiance’s Grant Bowler in the titular roles, and despite earning a decent viewership of 3.5 million total viewers, the TV movie faltered with critics, becoming one of the most scoffed at TV projects of 2012.
Burton and Taylor is already shaping up to have more panache than Lifetime’s project, which could be great news for BBC America, a network that has slowly and steadily been increasing its presence in the States, as well as putting together original programming for audiences in the U.S., including Orphan Black and Copper. We’ll find out soon enough if the project is a good fit for the network; Burton and Taylor is expected to premiere on BBC America in the fall of 2013. We'll let you know as soon as the network announces an official premiere date.