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Elizabeth Taylor as Martha: 7 Quotes About the Iconic Role

By    |   Friday, 08 May 2015 04:32 PM

Elizabeth Taylor can lay claim to many infamous roles throughout her film career, but notably her turn as Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is the one of which she’s most proud.

Here are seven quotes about the iconic role that earned her a second Oscar.

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1. “I know she has the stridency, but she’s too young.” said Richard Burton in a flash back article in the Los Angeles Times.

Bette Davis, who was 52 at the time, fought hard for the role of Martha, which eventually went to Taylor who was 20 years younger. Burton, her real-life husband and costar, thought Taylor was all wrong for the part, but after gaining weight and ditching her classic glamorous look, the actress pulled out a show-stopping performance, even winning an Academy Award for the role.

2. I think so much of the time her looks upstaged her. I think she was great as Martha [in 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?']. The thing is, though, when you look so great, people don't allow you any other talent," Helena Bonham Carter told National Public Radio.

Bonham Carter portrayed Taylor in the film “Burton and Taylor,” which was based on their lives making the Broadway revival of Noel Coward’s "Private Lives" in 1983.

3. “The film I'm proudest of is ‘Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.’” – Elizabeth Taylor told Us Magazine in one of her last interviews in 2010.

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Taylor went on to tell the weekly magazine that she was heartbroken Burton never won an Oscar. The pair worked together on a total of 11 movies together (10 major motion pictures and one for television).

4. “She understood, since she had been doing it since she was 4 years old, what movie acting was, and she had that kind of secret deal with the lab that, overnight in the bath, what we had seen her do on the set was about three times better [on screen]. And Richard Burton studied her, fascinated about what she knew about the camera, the light, the makeup and the costumes, and what to trust to them and what to do yourself. She was a true film actress and there was a lot to learn from her,” Mike Nichols said of Taylor in 2010, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Nichols directed Taylor and Burton in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the film; but lost to Fred Zinnemann who won for “A Man For All Seasons.”

5. “I changed my voice, I wore padding and rubber on my face, so it was almost like watching someone else, I guess,” Elizabeth Taylor said in a1989 interview with Leonard Maltin about playing Martha.

Taylor admitted to Maltin that, despite her glamorous image, she was incredibly critical of her performances and despised watching her own movies.

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6. “Here, with a director who knows how to get an actor's confidence and knows what to do with it after he gets it, she does the best work of her career, sustained and urgent,” wrote Stanley Kauffmann, film critic for The New York Times, in 1966.

In his review of the movie, Kauffman refers to it as “one of the most scathingly honest American films ever made.”

7. “Elizabeth Taylor reaches the fullest of her powers as Martha. The actress' beauty and the richness of her personal life have repeatedly obscured the fact that she can be, when she cares to be, an actress of extraordinary power,” wrote James Powers in a review for The Hollywood Reporter in 1966.

The film critic offered high praises to “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” noting it would earn a nomination for every Academy Awards category it fits (and it did).

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Elizabeth Taylor can lay claim to many infamous roles throughout her film career, but notably her turn as Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" is the one of which she's most proud. Here are seven quotes about the iconic role that earned her a second Oscar.
elizabeth taylor, martha, actress, movies, films
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Friday, 08 May 2015 04:32 PM
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