Helena Bonham Carter to play Elizabeth Taylor

The actress will play the role which looks at the relationship with Richard Burton.

British actress Helena Bonham Carter. Picture: AFP

LOS ANGELES - British actress Helena Bonham Carter will play late screen icon Elizabeth Taylor in a TV movie that will explore Taylor's tempestuous relationship with actor Richard Burton which captivated audiences and headlines.

The first photograph of Bonham Carter as Taylor and British actor Dominic West as Burton was released by BBC on Wednesday, ahead of the premiere of Burton and Taylor on BBC America in fall this year.

The film's central focus will be on Taylor and Burton's appearance as co-stars in a 1983 Broadway revival of Noel Coward's 1930 risqué comedy play Private Lives.

In the play, which brought Taylor and Burton together seven years after their second divorce from each other, the former couple portrayed a man and woman having an affair while married to other people.

Taylor, who died from heart failure in 2011 aged 79, became one of the most recognizable Hollywood actresses in the 1950s, famed for her beauty and violet eyes. She was married eight times, twice to Burton.

Private Lives would be Burton's last performance. He died in 1984 from a brain haemorrhage aged 58.

Last year, troubled former child star Lindsay Lohan played Taylor in the Lifetime TV movie Liz & Dick, which also chronicled her stormy life with Burton, and was panned by fans and critics.

Bonham Carter, 47, began her acting career in British period dramas, such as 1992's Howard's End, before progressing to grittier roles. She starred in 1999's Fight Club and played a chimpanzee in 2001's Planet of the Apes.

More recently, the actress, who is in a long-term relationship with director Tim Burton, has starred in the Harry Potter film franchise and the 2010 remake of Alice in Wonderland. She landed an Oscar nomination for her role as Queen Elizabeth in 2010's The King's Speech.

West, 43, is best known for his roles in HBO's cult drama The Wire and BBC's period newsroom series The Hour.