Elizabeth Taylor – the quintessential movie star – was the Queen of Cannes for decades, thanks to her work as the patron of the amfAR Aids charity gala, held every year at the legendary Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc.

And although she died in 2011, in a way she is back this year thanks to a spellbinding new HBO documentary, Elizabeth Taylor: The Lost Tapes, which premiered last night in competition.

It was made with access to the late actress’s personal archives of pictures and cine film – and with 70 hours of newly unearthed audio recordings of Taylor in conversation with her friend, the late journalist Richard Meryman.

Starting in 1964, and often recorded into the small hours (with the star asking for a ‘scotchy soda’ or a vodka tonic), it finds Taylor in unsparing mood about former friends and lovers – and herself.

She is most revealing about her short marriage to crooner Eddie Fisher, which she describes as a hell of domestic abuse — something which has not been reported before. 

British-born American actress Elizabeth Taylor pictured in circa 1955. She died in 2011

British-born American actress Elizabeth Taylor pictured in circa 1955. She died in 2011 

Eddie Fisher (centre) and his wife Debbie Reynolds, the Singin' In The Rain actress, had been great friends with Liz (left) and her third husband Mike Todd

Eddie Fisher (centre) and his wife Debbie Reynolds, the Singin’ In The Rain actress, had been great friends with Liz (left) and her third husband Mike Todd

Singer Eddie Fisher (center) poses with actress Elizabeth Taylor at the Academy Awards presentation, April 1961

Singer Eddie Fisher (center) poses with actress Elizabeth Taylor at the Academy Awards presentation, April 1961 

Fisher and his wife Debbie Reynolds, the Singin’ In The Rain actress, had been great friends with Liz and her third husband Mike Todd. 

But after Todd was killed in a plane crash in 1958, Liz turned to Fisher for comfort – and the resulting romance caused a scandal which ended his marriage.

She says candidly that she never loved Fisher, and wound up trapped in a marriage which became abusive. ‘Eddie was a great friend of Mike’s. That was the only thing we had in common. I never loved Eddie. I felt sorry for him. And I liked talking to him about Mike.

‘I don’t remember much about the marriage apart from that it was one big awful frigging mistake — and I knew that before I got married. But I didn’t know how to get out of it.’

After falling for Richard Burton on the set of Cleopatra, she went back to Fisher and told him she would try to save the marriage, but he took the news badly.

‘Eddie at night time would sit up — and he had a gun. Every time I nearly nodded off he would stroke my arm and say: ‘I’m not going to kill you, I wouldn’t shoot you. You are much too pretty.’ All night long. ‘Eventually, I ran from the house — I was so scared.’

Director Nanette Burstein said: ‘What happened to her with the paparazzi was horrible — she was the first modern celebrity and she was humiliated …but later she realised she could use that fame to do good.’

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Table of Contents

 ‘Poolman’ Pine lets the abuse wash over him

Anyone would be wounded by the excruciatingly bad reviews collected by the film Poolman, Chris Pine’s directorial debut in which he also stars.

But he is looking on the bright side. ‘It’s forced me to double down on joy,’ he says.

He adds: ‘After the reviews in Toronto, I was like: “Maybe I did just make a pile of s***.” So I went back and watched it, and I was like: ‘I f***ing love this film!’ The picture, in which Pine is almost unrecognisable under an abundance of facial hair, will be on Prime Video in June.

Anyone would be wounded by the excruciatingly bad reviews collected by the film Poolman, Chris Pine's (pictured) directorial debut in which he also stars

Anyone would be wounded by the excruciatingly bad reviews collected by the film Poolman, Chris Pine’s (pictured) directorial debut in which he also stars

Much buzz in Cannes about how Yorgos Lanthimos has squandered his momentum after the success of Poor Things.

His film in competition here is Kinds Of Kindness, which once again features his muse Emma Stone, as well as Joe Alwyn (another Lanthimos favourite).

Unlike Poor Things, though, it is rumoured to be a dud.

However, one aspect which has excited interest is a scene in which Willem Dafoe sports skimpy orange Speedos.

The film premieres today.

 Why Coppola is the only man Aubrey would dye for…

Director Francis Ford Coppola called Aubrey Plaza his ‘Golden Woman’ on the set of Megalopolis, the controversial film which has got the whole of Cannes talking.

Plaza plays a rich girl called Wow Platinum — an ambitious, manipulative journalist who ends up married to the richest man in the world — in the film, which the director spent decades developing, and funded with $120 million of his own fortune.

Plaza said: ‘They wanted me to be dripping in diamonds, and just be radiating lustre and wealth.’ The character was conceived of as blonde — hence the name — and the White Lotus star, a natural brunette, agreed to a radical change of look.

‘I bleached my hair blonde for Francis and Milena (Canonero, his costume designer). For anybody else, never again. But for them, I did it.’

Director Francis Ford Coppola called Aubrey Plaza (pictured) his 'Golden Woman' on the set of Megalopolis, the controversial film which has got the whole of Cannes talking

Director Francis Ford Coppola called Aubrey Plaza (pictured) his ‘Golden Woman’ on the set of Megalopolis, the controversial film which has got the whole of Cannes talking

Coppola ran the show a bit like a theatre school, making actors do repeated takes (and improvise), which she says she and co-star Adam Driver loved.

Though reports suggest that another co-star, Shia LaBeouf, felt otherwise. A making-of documentary is on the way from Brit Mike Figgis.

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Plaza said: ‘We would do something that was off the cuff and weird and Francis would say: ‘I like that! Do it again.’ And then all of a sudden we’re shooting in a different location we didn’t even plan to shoot.’

The actress and comedian, who first shot to fame playing gloomy April in Parks And Rec, is now making Honey Don’t! with Margaret Qualley, and hopes to make a ‘feel-bad romance’ called Liarmouth with director John Waters next year.

 The fate of The Traitors lies in Claudia’s hands 

A celebrity series of The Traitors could shoot early this summer – as long as the BBC can get Claudia Winkleman to sign on the dotted line.

I understand that the plan is to make a starry spin-off of the hit show ‘back to back’ with series three, currently in production near Inverness.

It had been thought that the celebrity version would go into production next year. But Studio Lambert boss Stephen Lambert told me it’s coming up much sooner than that. Possibly as early as next month.

A celebrity series of The Traitors could shoot early this summer - as long as the BBC can get Claudia Winkleman to sign on the dotted line

A celebrity series of The Traitors could shoot early this summer – as long as the BBC can get Claudia Winkleman to sign on the dotted line

He said there won’t be any tinkering with the successful format — which sees the faithful try to sniff out the traitors, while everyone is subjected to various games and challenges — for the celebrity version.

‘The plan is to shoot them pretty much back to back, so at the moment it is just a question of having to be very nice to Claudia Winkleman, so she agrees to spend twice as much time up in Scotland.’

Lambert added: ‘We are very much going to make a series which is just like The Traitors . . . apart from the fact the contestants will be celebrities. We are in the process of finalising everything with the BBC.’ Speculation has been raging about who might take part, with Lambert saying he would like former Prime Minister Liz Truss in the series, and fans speculating that Courteney Cox — a friend of Winkleman’s — might do it.

Lambert was celebrating two wins at the Baftas on Sunday — for Squid Game: The Challenge and Celebrity Race Across The World. The new series has been shooting for a week and Lambert said: ‘We’ve had some amazing twists. It’s hard making season three, because the expectations get bigger and bigger. Fortunately, I think it’s going well.’

Filming normally lasts for around five weeks, meaning a June finish. So if the celebrity version comes together in that period, it would allow Winkleman to be free for the summer holidays — children Matilda and Arthur are still at school, and oldest son Jake is at university — before work starts on Strictly Come Dancing in September.

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One concern is the swarms of midges which can make summers in the Highlands a challenge. Lambert admitted: ‘The midges do worry me. Let’s hope we manage.’

British actor Tim Roth, is to take on the role of Henry Kissinger, in a new satire, Kissinger Takes Paris. It will tell the story of Kissinger’s visit to the city, and how he emerged from the Paris Peace Accords in 1973 as ‘the least likely international sex symbol of the modern era’.

Tim Roth
Henry Kissinger

British actor Tim Roth (left), is to take on the role of Henry Kissinger (right), in a new satire, Kissinger Takes Paris

How do you follow Cocaine Bear, one of the big surprise hits of 2023? With Cocaine Werewolf, of course! 

The daft comedy horror film – about a crew filming a daft horror movie who get interrupted by a werewolf – has been sold in Cannes, and will premiere this summer. 

 Costner rides into town- and he’s brought his posse

Kevin Costner says that neither he nor Francis Ford Coppola are Ahabs – a reference to the fatally obsessive Captain in Moby Dick — but they are both airing films in Cannes which they have personally paid to get made.

Coppola put $120 million (£94 m) of his own money into Megalopolis, and in Costner’s case he borrowed against a ten-acre plot in Santa Barbara to finance his Western opus Horizon. ‘I have done what I’ve intended to do, and I’m not Ahab, but I have my own vision of what I want to give people,’ he insists.

He’s made the first two film instalments which will both be out this year, and is now editing the third and fourth.

Co-star Sienna Miller is here to share the spotlight with recently-divorced Costner. He says: ‘I’m financing this and doing a lot of this myself.

‘It was just going to be me and Sienna Miller, and then I got to thinking about it and I thought: I’m going to bring all the women [in the film]. I sent an email to all the guys: that I’m taking six girls. They’re never celebrated enough.’

Kevin Costner pictured in a scene from upcoming film Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1

Kevin Costner pictured in a scene from upcoming film Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1

Anya Taylor-Joy is seen racing around on motorbikes in Furiosa, but in real life she does not have a driver’s licence. Co-star Chris Hemsworth quipped: ‘At the time, I was not aware.’

Luckily, most of the dangerous driving was done by Taylor-Joy’s stunt double. The actress said yesterday: ‘We had an unbelievable stunt department. It makes no sense how safe this film was. My stunt double, Hayley Wright, is now one of my best friends in the entire world. I love stunt people – the best people on set, always!’

Wright is a former champion gymnast who then worked in the Cirque du Soleil before transitioning into stunt work.

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