Stephen Boyd, the First Mark Anthony in Elizabeth Taylor’s “Cleopatra”

 

In early 1960, after the stupendous success of Ben-Hur, Stephen Boyd was a very hot commodity. Of all the actors who tried out to be the main love interest of Elizabeth Taylor in the soon to be filmed epic Cleopatra, Stephen Boyd won the part of Mark Anthony. Peter Finch was Taylor’s personal choice for Julius Caesar. Filming started near London in the May of 1960 and dragged on for months and months. The weather in London was damp and dreary (it’s not Egypt, okay!), and Elizabeth Taylor became deathly ill. Hardly any usable footage was made. Peter Finch was about to lose his mind, and Stephen patiently waited and eventually came back home to Hollywood in December. The Director and most of the main actors finally quit, and the entire project had to be started over again, this time without Stephen. The film would eventually be released in 1963 with Richard Burton cast as Mark Anthony- and the rest is Hollywood History.

Stephen’s one regret for having not completed Cleopatra was missing out on the chance to work with Elizabeth Taylor, who he called ‘a dream’. Stephen had put in a lot of work studying Anthony, and when asked if he would return to the project in July of 1960, he had this to say.

“I am interested if Anthony is played as a warrior, as he was in the original script. But I’m not interested if he is only a lover. He can be shown as a warrior making love. But no actor can convincingly play a war-like figure as a lover. Marlon Brando found that out when he did Napoleon in ‘Desiree.”

Here are a few pictures of Stephen in costume from the filming of Cleopatra, and a short video which shows some footage which was recorded.

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