A couple days ago I saw some truly troubling news: that sentient afterschool special Lindsay Lohan will soon return from her chemically induced exile from film sets, agents’ offices, and bars that don’t take credit to play the role of — and I am having a hard time getting my fingers to even type this — Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor.
It’s only a made-for-TV movie, and even less auspiciously, a Lifetime movie, but still, it’s hard to imaging a more grotesque bit of miscasting. Admittedly, there are a couple of similarities between the two women: they were child actors, and they both ended up being a bottomless trough of tabloid fodder. (In the early ’80s, Taylor seemed to be singlehandedly keeping the National Enquirer in business, and Lindsay — well, you don’t need reminding about Lindsay and the tabloids.) They also both got into the fragrance business: Liz introduced “White Diamonds” in 1991, while Lindsay launched “Coke Sweat” in 2007.
But — and I expect this post to be picked up by the Huffington Post, because I’m really breaking some news here — the similarities end there. Ms. Taylor’s career fizzled out in the 70’s when she hit 40, started gaining weight, and stopped drawing at the box office, but not before she won two Academy Awards and starred in about 40 movies, at least eight of which are stone-cold classics. Miss Lohan, on the other hand, was drummed out of Hollywood not because of declining box-office power — she never had any to begin with, and she only made one good movie (Mean Girls, which worked because of Tina Fey’s script and because Lohan was surrounded by strong supporting performances by Lizzy Caplan, Amanda Seyfried, and Rachel McAdams, all of whom are now highly sought after and none of whom have been fitted for ankle monitors) — but because she let a drug problem got completely on top of her by the age of 21.
Really though, that’s not the reason she’s such a terrible choice to play Liz Taylor. Movies are pretend. If Tobey Maguire can play a guy who sticks to walls and shoots webs out of his wrists and Denise Richards can play a nuclear physicist, Lindsay Lohan can play a beautiful, distinguished actress. Just not Elizabeth Taylor, because Lindsay Lohan doesn’t look like Elizabeth Taylor. I don’t mean Lindsay’s not pretty enough — I kind of think Elizabeth Taylor is a bit overrated in the pantheon of screen beauties (but then, so is Lohan). It’s just that Elizabeth Taylor did not alter her face to look like a 45-year-old drag queen. (Not until she was 60, that is.)