How does rage show up in your work?

A highly interesting interview with the actor Kathleen Turner, who – surprise! – has a lot to say about attitudes to and behavior towards women.

I randomly caught Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? on TV the other night and it made me wonder if you’d watched Elizabeth Taylor’s performance before you played Martha?

God, no. Quite the opposite. For a while I felt like half my life was making her wrongs right.

Sorry, Elizabeth Taylor’s?

Yes. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof — you ever listen to her voice? It’s awful.

But you’ve got one of the all-time great voices. Maybe that makes you a tough critic.

No. 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 shit.”

Truth about Taylor’s voice, it was dreadful – thin, weak, little girl-ish.

What else, aside from luck, has driven your career?

What do you mean?
I’m fuckin’ angry, man.

About what?

Where does that anger come from?
Injustice in the world.

How does rage show up in your work?

In my cabaret show I use this passage from Molly Ivins: “Beloveds, these are some bad, ugly, angry times. And I am so freaked out. Hatred has stolen the conversation. The poor are now voting against themselves. But politics is not about left or right. It’s about up and down. The few screwing the many.” She wrote that over ten years ago and it’s no less true today.

Only more true today.

How difficult was it to deal with the knowledge that some guys in Hollywood had arbitrarily decided you were no longer viable as a leading lady?

It took adjustment. You have to remember that my first big role was Body Heat, and after that I was a sexual target. 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.

How did learning about that competition make you feel?

I don’t like being thought of as a trophy. Let me tell you, when Jack and I were shooting Prizzi’s Honor a bunch of us went to his place up on Mulholland [Drive]. Jack said, knowing Warren’s interest in me, “Why don’t you call Warren and tell him I don’t have a corkscrew.” “Why?” “You’ll see how fast he gets here.” There was an unspoken assumption that women were property to be claimed.

See: #MeToo.

She talks about learning to act rather than try to make the audience like her.

Do you have sympathy for actors who choose differently?

Certainly in terms of film, there is intense pressure to repeat successful characters. I’ll give you an example, but you mustn’t include her name. [Very famous Hollywood actress] has played the same role for 20 years. She even looks pretty much the same. She’s probably one of the richest women out there, but I would shoot myself if I were like that, only giving people what they expect.

Any guesses? Mine is Julia Roberts or else Meg Ryan. I thought of Ryan first but I think Roberts is richer.

From a performance standpoint how much easier is it to act with someone when there’s no interpersonal tension? Was working with Michael Douglas, whom you liked, easier than working with Burt Reynolds, whom you didn’t? Or do your personal feelings for the other actor just not matter?

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’s almost as if a theme is beginning to emerge.

This is a sort of left-field question, but President Trump seems like someone you would’ve bumped into at a party in New York in the ’80s. Have you ever met him?

Yes. Yuck. He has this gross handshake.

What’s he do?

He goes to shake your hand and with his index finger kind of rubs the inside of your wrist. He’s trying to do some kind of seductive intimacy move. You pull your hand away and go yuck.


You didn’t think any of the press about your being “difficult” or your drinking or your illness was cynical?
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, fuck. There she goes.”

Let’s all be that woman.

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