Dominic West: I drank and smoked all night to get Richard Burton’s voice right

"It worked pretty well but I didn't have the stamina to keep it up"

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According to actor Dominic West, the stage direction for his latest role as Richard Burton was rather intimidating… “The film opens with Burton quoting from King Lear, a role he always wanted to play but never managed and the stage direction on the script is ‘Burton has the most beautiful melliflous voice you’ve ever heard’, which put the fear of God into me,” he tells the new edition of Radio Times.

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So how did he prepare for such a prestigious role? “Well, when I drank and smoked all night, it worked pretty well but I didn’t have the stamina to keep it up.”

His co-star Helena Bonham Carter plays Burton’s two-time wife Elizabeth Taylor in the BBC4 drama about the pair’s run on the Broadway stage in Private Lives. The British actress also told Radio Times about her preparation for the role which saw her consult an astrologer to find out more about the Hollywood actress she’s portraying. 

“She was really insightful. She told me Elizabeth was a water person. Water is sexual and sensual and that’s the place she operated from.” 

Did West seek similar advice? Apparently not… “Helena gave me the number but somehow I never got around to it,” he quips. 

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Read the full interview with Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter in this week’s Radio Times.