EXCLUSIVE: After an extensive search, Grant Bowler (True Blood) has been set to star opposite Lindsay Lohan in Lifetime‘s biopic Liz & Dick, playing Hollywood great Richard Burton. Lindsay Lohan Elizabeth TaylorGrant Bowler Richard BurtonThe biopic chronicles the enduring love of movie icons Taylor (Lohan) and Burton (Bowler), whose fiery romance was the most notorious, publicized and celebrated love affair of its day. The casting comes only 10 days before Liz & Dick is scheduled to begin filming — on June 4 — after the movie’s executive producer Larry A. Thompson and Lifetime had auditioned “many actors on just about any continent,” Thompson said. He noted that the hope was to try and find an actor who, like Burton, is Richard Burton Elizabeth Taylor Lifetime MovieWelsh, but New Zealander Bowler wowed them with his tape. “Grant will add gravitas to our couple and bring to life one of the greatest actors who has ever lived,” Thompson said. “Burton was a Welsh poet, a rascal, and a man’s man, who swept Elizabeth Taylor off her feet and flew her so close to the sun that they both exploded into stardust that still lights up Hollywood.”

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Grant’s casting was sealed today after he did a reading with Lohan at the network. “The chemistry erupted in the room,” said Thompson said, calling Taylor and Burton “the first Hollywood royal couple, the first Brangelina.” Larry A. Thompson Prods is producing the film, which was written by Christopher Monger (Temple Grandin); A+E Networks is handling international distribution. Ugly Betty and True Blood alum Bowler next plays the lead in the Syfy series Defiance. This marks Thompson’s return to Lifetime, where he previously produced the highly rated movie Amish Grace.