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Scorsese's Furious Love for Taylor & Burton: The Impossible Casting, Love Letters, Video

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood June 2, 2011 at 4:19AM

Martin Scorsese and Paramount have won the bidding to develop a film about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's tumultuous and passionate romance, based on Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger's book, Furious Love. Should Taylor's estate give its blessing (as Burton's has), Scorsese will then choose a screenwriter to kick things off. Deadline says others who chased rights to the book include Oscar-winners Natalie Portman and screenwriter David Seidler (The King's Speech). [Deadline]
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Thompson on Hollywood


Martin Scorsese and Paramount have won the bidding to develop a film about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's tumultuous and passionate romance, based on Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger's book, Furious Love. Should Taylor's estate give its blessing (as Burton's has), Scorsese will then choose a screenwriter to kick things off. Deadline says others who chased rights to the book include Oscar-winners Natalie Portman and screenwriter David Seidler (The King's Speech). [Deadline]

Scorsese will be able to take his pick of the actors lining up to play these two iconic roles. Most crucial will be finding two actors who have explosive chemistry. Watch Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (clip below): The pair starred in the 1966 film two years after getting married for the first time (to each other, it was Taylor's fifth marriage, Burton's second). They appeared on 60 Minutes while married and discussed their stormy relationship and how much they loved fighting (video below; diamond alert!). Taylor allowed Vanity Fair to publish a selection of her love letters from Burton (below) in their July 2010 issue.

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Since Taylor's death in March, Hollywood has been waiting for news of a Taylor/Burton biopic. Who could possibly play these larger-than-life icons?

Excerpts from Burton's letters to Taylor:

"If you leave me I shall have to kill myself. There is no life without you," he writes in one letter. In another, he praises Taylor's acting gifts: "You are probably the best actress in the world, which, com­bined with your extraordinary beauty, makes you unique. Only perhaps Duse could match you (Garbo and Bernhardt make me laugh). When, as an actress, you want to be funny, you are funnier than W. C. Fields; when, as an actress, you are meant to be tragic, you are tragic."
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"You must know, of course, how much I love you. You must know, of course, how badly I treat you. But the fundamental and most vicious, swinish, murderous, and unchangeable fact is that we totally misunderstand each other ... we operate on alien wave­lengths. You are as distant as Venus--planet, I mean--and I am tone-deaf to the music of the spheres. But how-so-be-it nevertheless. (A cliché among Welsh politicians.) I love you and I always will. Come back to me as soon as you can..."

[Lead photo courtesy of Time]

This article is related to: Directors, Genres, Headliners, Hollywood, Studios, Video, In Production, Martin Scorsese, Biopics, Romance, Classics, Paramount/Vantage/Insurge/CBS, Interviews


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.