Fresh from her Academy Award-nominated turn as Lady Sarah in The Favourite, Rachel Weisz is now setting her sights on an iconic piece of American history. As announced by See-Saw Films, Weisz will be playing famous (and infamous) movie star Elizabeth Taylor in an upcoming biopic called A Special Relationship. The film promises to focus in on one aspect of Taylor’s life — one you likely haven’t seen depicted before.
We tend to frame Taylor as a symbol of Hollywood excess. She was married eight times, twice to the same person. She had an extensive collection of jewels. And she centered one of the most notorious film productions ever made: 1963’s Cleopatra, a film that nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox and inspired one of Taylor’s most notorious love affairs between her and costar Richard Burton. All of these stories and more could make a compelling, if salacious drama. But A Special Relationship, written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire), covers a more serious aspect of Taylor’s life: Her sincere and passionate work as an AIDS activist. The titular “special relationship” refers to Taylor’s openly gay personal assistant Roger Wall (whose casting is yet to be announced), a man who opened up Taylor’s world to those suffering from not only the disease but from societal homophobia.
“Audiences are clearly fascinated by the private lives of iconic Hollywood stars,” said See-Saw Films producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman. “There is no-one more iconic than Elizabeth Taylor and Simon Beaufoy has written a role that shines a light on Elizabeth’s humour and humanity which will be beautifully brought to life through the extraordinary talents of Rachel Weisz.” We definitely agree about Weisz’s extraordinary talents. From works of prestige intensity (like her two films with Yorgos Lanthimos) to roles that play with classic Hollywood types (she’s so damn fun in The Mummy!), Weiz is one of our most interesting actors today. Directing her as Taylor will be burgeoning directing duo Bert&Bertie, two women whose Viola Davis-starring Troop Zero was a 2019 Sundance smash. Their previous work blurs the lines between drama and comedy, and between fantasy and reality. It will be fascinating to see all these incredible talents come together for such an engaging, important story.
The official synopsis for A Special Relationship from See-Saw Films is below. For more on Weisz, check out our interview with her about the hotly anticipated Black Widow film.
Elizabeth Taylor’s multiple marriages, love for jewelry and iconic roles has made her one of the brightest stars in the Hollywood firmament. While she’s always been known for her glamourous and scandalous life, what has been less explored until now is her crusading role in the fight against AIDS and how much it personally meant to her. In the mid-1980s, Elizabeth hired a new personal assistant, Roger Wall, a gay man who grew up in poverty in the homophobic Deep South. Despite their different backgrounds, they developed a deep friendship that would alter the course of both of their lives.