If the first official image of Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor for Lifetime’s original movie Liz & Dick looked familiar, perhaps you grew up reading Life magazine. The promotional shot is a re-staging of an unused image from the April 19, 1963 issue, which reported the production of Cleopatra. “That was an easy one to reproduce, and we just went out and found them both period mock turtlenecks. We took the picture and there was an audible gasp in the room because it was so right on,” says the film’s costumer Salvadore Perez, who spent three weeks researching photos of the couple. “They were the most photographed couple in the world, so doing research was actually quite easy. You can Google almost any event in their lives, and there was a photo of it.”
All that photo research will come in handy because the film will cover 30 years of the couple’s lives, from 1954 until 1984, when Burton passed away. In the 88-minute film, Lohan is scheduled for an extraordinary 66 costume changes, which is either an herculean task for a 20-day shoot, or, as Perez calls is, “a dream come true.” “I just went on a massive buying trip and bought every vintage outfit in Lindsay’s size that I could find,” says Perez. “The beauty of it is that Lindsay fits into the clothes so easily. Her period clothes are so small and Lindsay has a 23-inch waist. So everything sort of fit. We had 24-inch dresses that had to be taken in.”
Though it’s premature to determine whether Lohan can capture Taylor’s glamorous essence, she’s embraced the role and shares her character’s passion for high fashion. “Lindsay loves clothes, and she herself had done so much research that she constantly had an image to email or message me to say, ‘I love this dress, can we buy something like this?’” says Perez. “We wanted to do an homage to Elizabeth Taylor, but we have to flatter Lindsay too. And we were a little afraid of all the yellows because Liz wore so much yellow. But actually, Lindsay is great in the yellow, and the reds, and the bright greens.”
Perez says to expect more of these iconic images to come, as Lohan and the filmmakers dig deeper into the sea of photos of the famous couple. Life’s recent gallery might offer some inspiration.