BBC names Bonham Carter for Taylor-Burton film

Elizabeth Taylor in 1985 (Photo: 	Roland Godefroy)

Elizabeth Taylor in 1985 (Photo: Roland Godefroy)

The tumultuous relationship of actress and Jewish-convert Elizabeth Taylor with her husband Richard Burton is to be told in a BBC film with the help of another British Jewish film star.

Helena Bonham Carter has been chosen to play Taylor, who died two years ago at the age of 79, in the BBC Four film. Dominic West will take on the role of Burton, the man Taylor left Eddie Fisher for then married twice. Rachel Weisz has originally been asked to play the star.

The script is to focus on the couple when they shared the stage on Broadway during a production of Noel Coward's Private Lives in the 1980s, after their second divorce.

Unlike Bonham Carter, who is halachically Jewish, Taylor was not born Jewish, but converted in 1959 and adopted the Hebrew name Elisheba Rachel. Two of her seven husbands were Jewish; actor Eddie Fisher and Mike Todd, a theatre producer whose original name was Avrom Goldbogen and whose grandfather was a rabbi.

She went to Israel to meet then Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and supported numerous Jewish and Israeli charities during her life - prompting an Arab boycott of her films - and was buried in accordance with Jewish tradition.

Ms Bonham Carter admitted that she looks "nothing like" the star. "It's about capturing the essence of them at a particular time," she said. "She was and continues to be a fascinating woman. There's no one comparable around now."

Last updated: 12:07pm, February 12 2013