If there is one voice out there that could make you feel like you are stepping into the 80s, it is the raspy voice of Kathleen Turner.
Turner starred in iconic 80s movies like Body Heat, Peggy Sue Got Married, Romancing the Stone, and many others, but her long career hasn’t always been easy going.
In a new interview with Vulture, she was very blunt about her time in Hollywood, especially when it comes to her opinions of other actors. It’s refreshing and honestly a little bit surprising to hear someone in the public eye like her actually reveal her true feelings about her former co-stars.
The thing is, she believes in herself, so she doesn’t seem to care what other people think about her. “I’ve been acting professionally for 41 years,” she says. “I think my ability to maintain a career for that long has a little something to do with quality, don’t you think?”
She had a lot to say about the people’s she’s worked with, and even some iconic actors she hadn’t.
Turner seems to have some strong opinions about the iconic actress. When asked about Taylor’s performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? and if it impacted Turner’s portrayal, her answer was blunt and to the point.
“God, no. Quite the opposite. For a while I felt like half my life was making her wrongs right.”
She proceeded to criticize Taylor’s voice, probably because she’s constantly asked to remake her parts.
“She has a bad voice, badly used. In any case, people are after me all the time to do Sweet Bird of Youth, and I’m like, ‘Enough Taylor sh*t.’”
She credits her rage for giving her a career
While she admits that luck is a big part of every actor’s career, the other thing that drives her forward is rage.
She said “I’m f***ing angry, man. [About the] injustice in the world.”
When asked if her rage stems from the illness that affected her career, she revealed, “I’m too busy coping with disease to think much outside the day-to-day. For me it’s ‘can I hold a pen? Can I stand up? Can I climb those stairs?’”
Turner was diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis in 1992, and it left her unable to work for a lot of the 90s. She also found her appearance changed drastically because of the steroid treatment she was required to take, but the tabloids kept trying to blame it on drinking.
“I suppose there was a feeling of loss. Rheumatoid arthritis hit in my late 30s — the last of my years in which Hollywood would consider me a sexually appealing leading lady. The hardest part was that so much of my confidence was based on my physicality. If I didn’t have that, who was I?”
Men in Hollywood treated her like a trophy
While sexism in Hollywood is something a lot of us know exists, seeing it actually in practice is always hard.
Apparently three of her costars started a bet between them to see who could get her first, basically the plot straight out of a chick-flick.
I understood later, from Michael Douglas, that there was a competition between him and Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty about who would get me first. None of them did, by the by. [sic]”
“I don’t like being thought of as a trophy.”
She shared a story about Nicholson and his belief that they had a date that a lot of women could relate to.
“I was at a dinner party and there was an empty chair next to Jack. I sat down in it and had a delightful time.
After a while — because I was shooting the next day — I said I had to leave and drove back to the Chateau Marmont. I get there and the phone rings.
It was Jack: ‘How could you do that to me?’ ‘Do what?’ ‘You were my date and you left!’ And I said, ‘I was your date? No one informed me.’
Assumptions like that are why I’ve never lived in Los Angeles. Every time I go to that city I feel insecure.”
However, even though they had this awkward incident, she does say he was great to work with.
On Nicholas Cage’s choices
In Peggy Sue Got Married, Nicholas Cage used an unusual voice, and apparently was difficult on the set but there was nothing Turner could do about it.
“It was tough to not say, ‘Cut it out.’ But it wasn’t my job to say to another actor what he should or shouldn’t do.
So I went to [director] Francis [Ford Coppola]. I asked him, ‘You approved this choice?’ It was very touchy.
[Cage] was very difficult on set. But the director allowed what Nicolas wanted to do with his role, so I wasn’t in a position to do much except play with what I’d been given.
If anything, [Cage’s portrayal] only further illustrated my character’s disillusionment with the past. The way I saw it was, yeah, he was that asshole.”
On her bad blood with Burt Reynolds
It’s no secret that the two iconic actors don’t get along when they filmed Switching Channels. The first time they met he made her cry, and from then on they never made up.
“Working with Burt Reynolds was terrible. The first day Burt came in he made me cry. He said something about not taking second place to a woman.
His behavior was shocking. It never occurred to me that I wasn’t someone’s equal. I left the room sobbing. I called my husband and said, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ He said, ‘You just do the job.’
It got to be very hostile because the crew began taking sides. But as for the performance, I was able to put the negativity aside. I’m not convinced Burt was.”
She once slapped a costar
Turner revealed that a scene got a little out of hand when she was doing a play and it got a little bit violent.
“I was doing a play — there was a scene where another actor was all over my character and f***ing bit me, and I was like, whack! Maybe he didn’t mean to, but he was taking things a little far.”
On being called a “nightmare”
Her costar Eileen Atkins called her a nightmare when they were working together on Indiscretions, but Turner thinks she knows why.
“Eileen was soon to be diagnosed with cancer,” Turner said. “She probably knew there was something wrong with her and was frightened.”
Not only that, but Turner was also on new medications for her RA.
“Also at that time I was on a new medication that was making me fuzzy, and for the first time in my life I couldn’t retain the script perfectly.
I would find myself searching for words. Eileen found this extremely unprofessional. I can understand that. It was not intentional on my part. I was in a great deal of pain — I don’t know how I got through it.”
She believes a lot of her reputation comes from her being a woman.
“The ‘difficult’ thing was pure gender crap. If a man comes on set and says, ‘Here’s how I see this being done,’ people go, ‘He’s decisive.’ If a woman does it, they say, ‘Oh, f**k. There she goes.’”
On the rumored alcoholism
She was said to have had a big drinking problem in the 90s, but it turned out that it wasn’t all it seemed. A lot of the things people thought they saw were because of her RA. However, she did admit that there was a time when she used alcohol to cope with the pain.
For some reason, which I do not understand, I thought I could control the pain of my illness better with alcohol than I could with pain medication. I didn’t want to take OxyContin and Percocet. I thought that would be an immediate path to addiction; I never thought alcohol would.
She’s got so much more that she wants to do
While she’s had a big career, she isn’t done yet. Even though she is in her 60s, she’s still got a lot of things on her to-do list and she’s ready to take them on.
“I’m a tree now where the trunk is strong enough, and the roots are deep enough, that I can branch out in any direction: teaching, acting, my cabaret endeavor. And I’m getting stronger all the time. So let’s find out what I can do.”