Rachel Weisz to play Elizabeth Taylor in new biopic shedding light on her AIDS activism

Rachel Weisz will play Elizabeth Taylor in the new biopic

Rachel Weisz is set to play Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor in a new biopic that will shed light on her HIV/AIDS activism.

Fresh from her Oscar-nominated role in The Favourite, Weisz will step into the shoes of gay icon and champion Elizabeth Taylor for A Special Relationship.

According to The Wrap, the film will largely eschew Taylor’s Hollywood years and instead focus on her pivotal role as the first major celebrity to campaign for HIV and AIDS awareness in the mid-1980s, while the Reagan administration was ignoring the issue.

Rachel Weisz will play Elizabeth Taylor in A Special Relationship.

A release adds that the “never-before-seen portrait of the real woman behind the violet eyes” will show how she went “toe to toe with the leader of the free world” to deliver a call-to-arms against homophobia.

The special relationship alluded to in the film’s title refers not to any of Taylor’s seven husbands, but to her gay personal assistant Roger Wall, who grew up facing poverty and oppression in the Deep South.

The script will be penned by Slumdog Millionaire writer Simon Beaufoy, with directing duo Bert & Bertie set to helm production.

US actress Elizabeth Taylor attends an AIDS rally in 1985

US actress Elizabeth Taylor attends an AIDS rally in 1985 (PIERRE GUILLAUD/AFP via Getty Images)

Producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman of See-Saw films said: “There is no one more iconic than Elizabeth Taylor, and Simon Beaufoy has written a role that shines a light on Elizabeth’s humor and humanity which will be beautifully brought to life through the extraordinary talents of Rachel Weisz.

“At its heart, A Special Relationship is a story of friendship and what better way of guaranteeing that translates to the screen than trusting the directing talents of real-life best friends and creative collaborators Bert & Bertie.

A Special Relationship is a celebration of how friendships can change people’s lives, and how Elizabeth helped change the world.”

Elizabeth Taylor took her AIDS activism very seriously.

In 2015, Taylor’s friend and confidante Kathy Ireland revealed that she ran a Dallas Buyers Club-style HIV medication network out of her home.

She said: “Talk about fearless, at her home in Bel Air it was a safe house. And a lot of the work that she did, it was illegal, but she was saving lives. She said her business associates pleaded with her ‘leave this thing alone’

“She received death threats, friends hung up on her when she asked for help, but something I loved about Elizabeth is her courage.”

Taylor campaigned heavily for HIV related healthcare, and established several charities and research foundations aimed at combating the virus, including the National AIDS Research Foundation and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

“She would go, quietly, with no media, no press, she would go into hospice and she would hug patients who had just not felt that human contact,” Ireland explained.