Kathleen Turner is a woman that, nowadays, you may not recognize her name, but you recognize her face, and more likely than not, her raspy voice. Those who grew up in the 80s, however, know her for her many diverse roles in movies such as Body Heat, Peggy Sue Got Married, and The Jewel of the Nile.
Her battle with rheumatoid arthritis and an addiction to alcohol put an unfortunate left turn in her career. But even in the face of difficult circumstances, Kathleen Turner refused to quit her passion. Perhaps her screen-work is not what it once was, but she has had a long and vibrant career in theater over the past many years. In a recent interview with Vulture, Kathleen Turner reflects on her life and work, but not without her iconic “steel and sass” that made her so appealing in the 80s.
The interview begins with a clear example of that non-conventional, yet strangely appealing attitude. The interviewer begins by addressing the differences between Elizabeth Taylor’s depiction of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Kathleen Turner’s interpretation. With no hesitation, Turner claims that she “[doesn’t] think [Taylor] was very skilled,” and that she was “lucky she got to do the play…and show the humor in it…”
It is clear, in just a couple of questions, that Kathleen Turner does not care about appearing too crass or forward. Turner is unapologetically herself—a rare and beautiful attribute for stars in Hollywood, and more impactfully, women in Hollywood.
What else, aside from luck, has driven your career?
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.”
Among social and political opinions, Turner discusses the injustices she faced even as a household name in Hollywood. Many of her male cohorts, such as Michael Douglas and Jack Nicholson, seemed to view Turner as a trophy to be won, an “unspoken assumption that women were property to be claimed,” she says. The presumptuous culture and vapid air led Turner to live her life away from Los Angeles.
Along with her sass and supposed difficulty to work with, Kathleen Turner feels that it is partially there not being a “Kathleen Turner type character” that caused Hollywood to turn away. While creatively, playing such a wide range of characters was exciting and rewarding, Hollywood “never put her work together” and it ultimately was not “good for her financially.”
Despite being one of the most popular actresses in Hollywood, Turner reveals that she never studied acting. Different acting techniques and method acting seem unnecessary to the legend, who says that if the information she needs on the character is not in the script, “it’s not a good enough script.” Even her master class is called “Practical Acting,” where Turner claims “You just shut up and do it.”
At an age where many actors and actresses turn away from the stage lights, Kathleen Turner is still going strong. She describes herself as a tree “where the trunk is strong enough, and the roots are deep enough, that [she] can branch out in any direction.” Branch out, Turner certainly does, and it seems that she will only continue to flourish in the years to come.
To read the full interview, visit vulture.com.