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Lindsay Lohan As Elizabeth Taylor: Trying Again To Transform

Lindsay Lohan and Grant Bowler as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Richard McLaren
Lindsay Lohan and Grant Bowler as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

Lindsay Lohan has tried a lot of things to escape her own image, which has been battered for years by her legal, personal, and substance difficulties. You may remember that in 2008, she sat for a series of photos in New York Magazine specifically calling back to a Marilyn Monroe shoot six weeks before her death. (Some of those, by the way, are topless photos, so use your judgment if you look at them.)

Lohan's next major effort at reinvention also involves associating herself with an icon who had troubles of her own: she's playing Elizabeth Taylor in the upcoming Lifetime movie, Liz & Dick, opposite Grant Bowler as Richard Burton.

Lifetime has now released the first image — that's it, up at the top — of Lohan and Bowler in character.

You can tell so little from this — her eyes are closed, her head is back, and it's a still photo. All you are really seeing here is the simplest echoes they're trying to create. Whether Lindsay Lohan can play Elizabeth Taylor is something one might have strong opinions about, but this doesn't tell you very much in and of itself.

It's important to keep in mind that Lohan was thought of as a promising young actress once. She got good reviews for her twinkly performance in the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap when she was just a wee little thing. She worked with Robert Altman in A Prairie Home Companion, and she was terrific in Mean Girls, which came out when she was only 17. Remember: everything went sideways after, not before, she became known as an engaging screen performer.

The length and seriousness of the problems in her life off-screen would still seem to make a comeback an uphill proposition, and there's obviously a huge risk here that she will look silly in this film to the point of giving offense, sort of the way a lot of people felt Jennifer Love Hewitt did when she played Audrey Hepburn.

But once again, she's embracing famous imagery of old Hollywood, perhaps hoping that "being" a screen legend will help her actually be one.

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Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.

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