Helena Bonham Carter has told how she got a saucy insight when she consulted an astrologer to help her play screen legend Elizabeth Taylor.

The actress plays Taylor opposite Dominic West as Richard Burton in a new BBC4 one-off 90-minute drama about one of Hollywood’s most tempestuous couples.

Helena, 47, said of consulting an astrologer as part of her preparation for the role: “She (the astrologer) was really insightful. She told me Elizabeth was a water person. Water is sexual and sensual and that’s the place she operated from,” she told the Radio Times.

The Hour star Dominic admitted that he declined the opportunity to talk to the astrologer before filming the drama, Burton And Taylor.

“Helena gave me the number but somehow I never got around to it,” the 43-year-old said.

He told the magazine of trying to perfect Burton’s “mellifluous voice”, adding: “When I drank and smoked all night, it worked pretty well but I didn’t have the stamina to keep it up.”

Helena added of her alter-ego: “She was a good eater. Unlike actresses these days, she liked her food.”

Dominic is also set to play a gay activist during the miners’ strike.

The Wire star was quoted as telling the Radio Times that he would have to lose weight because his character, in the film called Pride, was the second person in Britain to be diagnosed with Aids.

He also revealed he was planning a charity expedition to the South Pole, saying: “The problem is I am walking to the South Pole after that (the film) and I really need a spare tyre for the journey.”