+ More

Exclusive Q&A - “Liz & Dick” Executive Producer, Larry Thompson

By njules Wed., Nov. 14, 2012 ,12:36 pm EST

Q&A with Larry Thompson Larry Thompson, the executive producer of “Liz & Dick”, shares his favorite scene, inspiration for the film and snippets of his one-on-one convo with Lindsay in this exclusive Q&A.

What inspired you to do a movie about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton?

Well, I think my mother inspired me to do this movie from an early age. When I was young, my mother would always say to me every year, ‘You know Larry, my birthday is February 27, the same day as Elizabeth Taylor!’ So, all my life, I would hear about Elizabeth Taylor’s birthday.

Secondly, I also have a lot of experience doing iconic bios. I’ve done movies on Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Sonny and Cher, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, so I understand films about iconic personalities.

What is the script based on?

This movie is based on the relationship of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. It’s about their scandalous love affair from the time they met on the set of Cleopatra and follows how they lived a life of excess – whether it was drinking, eating or making love too much. They took everything to a level that no one had ever done before. I always say that he picked her up and flew her so close to the sun that they exploded into light that still lights up Hollywood today.

How do you think the paparazzi shaped Elizabeth Taylor’s career?

Well, in addition to telling us about Elizabeth and Richard’s love story, our movie also explains how the term ‘paparazzi’ and the celebrity world we live in came to be. When Liz and Dick were in Rome shooting Cleopatra, they would go out in the evening and be followed and photographed everywhere they went. The iconic director Federico Fellini noticed all these Italian photographers taking pictures of them and called them ‘paparazzi’ after the photographer Paparazzo in his film La Dolce Vita. They were the first royal Hollywood couple to be photographed all over the world; they were even bigger than Brangelina.

How did Christopher Monger become involved with the project?

I was looking for a writer for Liz & Dick, and I was at an award ceremony for another Lifetime project that had been nominated for a few awards. As luck would have it, I happened to be sitting next to Christopher Monger, who had just done Temple Grandin and who I knew was Welsh. Over the course of the evening, I told him I was doing a movie on Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and asked him if he’d be interested in doing the project with me. Of course, keep in mind, at this time everybody in the world wanted Christopher because he had just won so many awards for Temple Grandin, so he could pick any project he wanted to write.

He said, ‘Are you teasing me? Did somebody put you up to this?’

I replied, ‘No.’

He said, ‘Oh, well I guess you don’t know then. My father gave Richard Burton his first acting job in a play in my little town in Wales. My father hung the playbill up in our hallway when I was growing up. I can tell you this…of everything being offered to me to right now, I have to write this because this is the first thing that scares me. If I don’t write this right, I can’t go home again.’

What kind of research did you and Christopher do for the movie?

We found every book ever written, every interview ever done, reviewed every piece of video we could find, and talked to as many people as we could. Then we devoured all the material and constructed a story that we could hang all our facts on.

How will this film pay homage to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton?

There is a whole generation out there who know nothing about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. And for those that do know, they will see Elizabeth and Richard’s story come to life in a way that will shock them. I always tell people, ‘You think Lindsay Lohan is scandalous? Well, Elizabeth and Richard were denounced in public by the Pope, who called them ‘erotic vagrants’!’

What was your approach to casting?

Lifetime felt there was a built-in audience for this kind of movie already. We started looking for high-profile actresses. It turned out that Lindsay wanted it the most. She really felt this was her part and really lobbied for it. Lindsay said to me ‘Larry, this is me. This isn’t Elizabeth Taylor. The lifestyle…my life is so much like hers. Nobody can play this but me.’

Once we had Lindsay, we needed a Richard Burton of course who could bring a level of gravitas to the part. We found Grant Bowler out of New Zealand, whom we began talking to on Skype, and brought him in to do a scene with Lindsay. The chemistry between them was like an explosion of energy, and we knew when we saw them together that Liz and Dick would live again.

What do you want audiences to take away from this movie?

I think everybody will be able to relate to this movie because everyone at one time or another has been in a situation where either they’ve loved too much or loved too little. These are two people who had an addiction for one another, and their love wasn’t necessarily good for either of them. Audiences will learn that loving someone alone isn’t necessarily enough; you have to love someone right. It’s an understanding of the good and bad of love.

How will this movie appeal to international audiences?

This story has international and evergreen appeal because Liz and Dick were the first internationally recognized couple. Our movie is filmed on more international locations than James Bond! It’s about two people that have been known all over the world on every continent. Then, with the added flavor of Lindsay Lohan, who is also known around the world, we have a movie that hits multiple generations – and I think it’s going to last forever.

What’s your favorite scene?

There is a beautiful, romantic montage where Liz and Dick spend the weekend in an Italian villa and fall in love. It reveals the rose portion of their relationship over the thorns.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lifetime

Tune in to the world premiere of “Liz & Dick” on Sunday, November 25 at 9/8c!

Posted in: