Hollywood lost a legend when 79 year-old Elizabeth Taylor passed away in March this year, and it was only a matter of time before her story was optioned for the retelling. Thankfully that task has been handed to Martin Scorsese, as Deadline reports that the historically inclined director will be bringing the actress' legendary romance with sometimes co-star Richard Burton to the big screen for Paramount. No writer has been attached to the project just yet, but the studio is seeking the cooperation of the Liz Taylor estate, having already secured a rights agreement with Burton's and a blessing from his widow Sally Hay Burton.
The inspiration for the adaptation of the stars' torrid and turbulent romance is the Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger book, Furious Love – an intimate and revealing biography that uses letters, diary entries, and onscreen stories to reconstruct the love affair of one of Hollywood's most famous It Couples. Before the vapid chatter of monstrosities like Brangelina plagued the pages of our news, Burton and Taylor were steaming things up on the set of Cleopatra in 1963. They were married to other people at the time – the Vatican even condemned their romance as "erotic vagrancy" – and the affair became a global tabloid feeding frenzy. (This was before the days of paparazzi stalking movie stars at Starbucks to see what they're drinking.) A year later they married, but divorced after a decade together, only to remarry again in 1975, splitting up the following year.
With the exciting backing of a talent like Scorsese – who also has his sights set on other old Hollywood pairings like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra – the biggest question remains: what leading man and woman can capture the fiery chemistry between the famous couple? Russell Crowe is a name that immediately comes to mind for the part of the controversial Burton. He's a dead ringer for the Welsh actor in his prime and has a similarly intense screen presence, with an edge – and a jawline – that feels perfect for the part. Anyone with eyeballs who has watched Colin Firth immerse himself in his roles (think The King's Speech and Pride and Prejudice) knows that the actor has the poise – with a kick of Hollywood flare – required to pay homage to Burton's elegance, while still capturing his larger than life screen persona. Gerard Butler's stature, commanding presence, and charm also make him an interesting choice in the right directorial hands – and Scorsese certainly fits the bill.
With the star's recent passing, Taylor's shoes seem trickier to fill. When it comes to the sophisticated actress, the classy Carla Gugino has the right kind of bridled sexuality that might just work. Kate Winslet's enthusiasm, soft sensuality, and acting chops appeal to another side of Liz, while English beauty Rachel Weisz – circa Agora – is another possibility for the glamorous Taylor.
Play casting director, and let us know your picks for Burton and Taylor in the comments section below.