There is a line in "The Mirror Crack'd," one Kim Novak directs at Elizabeth Taylor, one that plays on Ms. Taylor's heft. It is one of the funnier lines in the movie, and Miss Taylor takes it well, both on and off the screen.
"Of course, I didn't resent it," she said. "We all fed the script."
She is thinner than she was. She is not the beautiful gamin who rode "National Velvet" all those years ago, but she is thinner than she was when she did a television movie two years ago.
She is also very natural, very easy when she talks to the press, as she did, table by table at the Essex Hotel in New York.
"I don't mind it," she said. "Actually, I rather like it, but they all ask the same questions."
We tried. A reporter, given 15 minutes with Elizabeth Taylor, isn't going to ask her if she has seen Richard Burton lately, and why didn't the reconciliation take, but we did try. She was asked if she still gets death threats, something she has been receiving since the day she did her first movie, "Lassie Come Homes," in `1943, at the age of 10.
"Yes," she said. "I still get them. I get them all the time, but I'm not scared. Other people are scared for me, but the letters don't frighten me."
She also gets threats that are sexist in nature, and she finds that amusing..
"Mayer [Louis B., the MGM studio boss] was always surprised that I got more sexist threats than Lana Turner," she said. "Maybe it was because I rode a horse."
Those were the days, and a few years later Miss Taylor would become a Hollywood superstar, doing films with husbands Eddie Fisher and Richard Burton, and in between, check in and out of hospitals with a variety of ailments.
Through it all, the press kept watch, particularly when Miss Taylor, married to Fisher, did "Cleopatra," her first film with Burton. It was done in Rome, and after that, Fisher was finished, and Burton became Miss Taylor's fifth mate, a union that lasted 10 years before it ended in divorce.
She has always been a darling of the paparazzi. Does she mind it when the photographers hound her?
"It depends on the photographer," she said. "some are very professional, but some I'd like to kill. Some are simply obnoxious. They have no regard for your privacy, and in some instances, their own safety. One man hung by his legs over a balcony, just to get a picture, and that's just plain insane."
Her bio, released by the studio for whom she did her latest film, quotes Miss Taylor as saying that "Hollywood was the place that stole my childhood away, and I've been catching up with my education ever since."
"No," said Miss Taylor, evenly, no sign of exasperation. "I never said that. You'd think they'd ask me. You'd think they would check with me before they write those things."
On "Mirror Crack'd," she is just one of a number of stars, sharing billing with kim Novak, Rock Hudson, Angela Lansbury and Tony Curtis, and if things were different on the set, different from what they were during her days at MGM, Miss Taylor didn't notice.
"I do comb my own hair," she said.
When asked for an autograph, she signs her name Elizabeth Taylor Warner. She is currently married to John Warner, the Republican senator from Virginia, and she and her divide their time between a 16-room house in Georgetown and an 1816 farm house on their 2,000 acres near Atoka, Va.
Obviously, you can't keep Liz down on the farm for too long, because, in addition to the film, one that took her to England for six weeks, she has signed to do a revival of "The Little Foxes," a production that will originate in Florida, play the Kennedy Center in Washington, then head for New York.
She was considering doing a live revival of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," the film she did in 1964, one that won her her second Oscar, but she decided against that.
"'Virginia Woolf' is three hours and 20 minutes of just devastating stuff. It is too harrowing," she said. "I want to have a good time. Regina is a good role, and 'Little Foxes' is a good play. It is powerfully dramatic. The characters are beautifully written."
Doing the play means she will be facing the press again, this time, the drama critics in Washington and New York. Does this scare her?
"As someone else said, I have always been a target of the press," she said. "Some of the things they wrote about me hurt, but they did not change my life. I've made a lot of mistakes. We all have. I would like to go back and correct them, but there is no way to do that."
She was on the campaign trail with her husband and sees a similarity between politics and show business.
"I feel as if I've been in politics all my life. As Mrs. John Warner, I am always being asked questions by the press. The only real difference between the two is that in politics, there is no script, and we can't do retakes."
She says her husband is happy to see her do films and stage. "I campaigned with him for four years, and now he wants me to do something I want to do."
She'll go to the presidential inauguration gala but as Mrs. Warner, not Elizabeth Taylor. "I'm an actress, not an entertainer," she said.
What's down the road? Suppose Warner decides to run for president? Would Elizabeth Taylor, movie star, like to be First Lady?
"No way," she said. "No way."