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The Secrets Behind Lindsay Lohan's Elizabeth Taylor Transformation

06/05/2012 at 04:30 PM ET

Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor
Courtesy Lifetime

When Lindsay Lohan first walked onto the set of Lifetime’s Liz & Dick dressed as screen legend Elizabeth Taylor, “there was an audible gasp,” the movie’s costume designer, Salvador Pérez, tells PEOPLE. “You’d swear it was Elizabeth.”

Dressed in Taylor’s favorite styles — jewel-toned cocktail dresses, fur coats and those famous gems (well, good fakes) — the actress looked remarkably like her screen idol. “She just walked into the clothes and became Elizabeth Taylor,” says Pérez.

Producer Larry Thompson had some of Taylor’s most famous bling, including the 33-carat Krupp diamond, recreated for the film. “Part of the magic is the wardrobe,” he says. “And Lindsay said she wants to bring magic to the movie.” Many of the vintage dresses fit her like a glove, too; Lohan’s waist measures a tiny 23 inches, while Taylor’s was a mere 22 inches.

Lohan will wear 66 different looks in the 80-minute biopic, which begins in 1961, ends with Richard Burton’s death in 1984 and focuses on their tumultuous relationship (an affair while she was still married, two weddings and two divorces). To prep, Lohan hired a voice coach and even dyed her auburn hair a deep brunette to better match Taylor’s dark tresses.

Lohan’s hair and makeup will span all of Taylor’s looks, from the long lashes and red lips of the 1950s (attained using M.A.C’s “Hot Tahiti” lipstick) and the Cleopatra-inspired eyeliner and nude mouth of the ’60s to her teased ’80s bouffant, always with her trademark eyeliner to accentuate her famous violet eyes. (Lohan is wearing opalescent lavender contacts for the role.)

“She brings in makeup for me,” makeup artist Eryn Krueger Mekash, who’s using mostly Chanel, Dior and M.A.C products, tells PEOPLE. Adds the movie’s hair stylist, Beatrice De Alba, “She looks so much like her. There was a moment when she saw her picture on the monitor and said ‘I’m her.’ It was thrilling.”

–Liz McNeil, with reporting by K.C. Baker

SEE MORE STARS TRANSFORMED IN ‘LIGHTS! CAMERA! FASHION!’

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Carlos on

I don’t think she is the spitting image of Elizabeth Taylor, but she does kinda look like her and she looks amazing in that picture. I really hope this boosts her career and I’m going to watch this movie when it comes out.

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