Kathleen Turner appeared with ‘true friend’ Michael Douglas in three hit films
THERE was a time when Hollywood was so riven by feuds that all the interviewer had to do was light the blue touch paper by saying something nice about Joan Crawford to Bette Davis, for example, and then get out of range before the explosion of venom ensued.
But the challenge when interviewing a film star these days is to get them to say something – anything! – that is remotely interesting.
A-listers are so adroit at spouting platitudes that it has become a case of the bland leading the bland.
Which is why Kathleen Turner’s latest interview with Vulture.com is so refreshing.
The 64-year-old star of 1980s erotic thriller Body Heat and a blockbuster trilogy co-starring Michael Douglas lets some of Tinseltown’s biggest names have it with both barrels. Dame Elizabeth Taylor’s voice was “awful”.
Serial seducers Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty viewed her as nothing more than a potential notch on their bed posts.
Nicolas Cage was “very difficult” and William Hurt was “very odd”.
Burt Reynolds was a chauvinist pig who reduced her to tears.
Donald Trump made her recoil with a “gross handshake” involving a suggestive tickle with the index finger.
Kathleen Turner has given a blistering interview to a LA website
Turner playing Chandler’s father in Friends – it was not a happy experience
And she and the English actress Dame Eileen Atkins shared a mutual revulsion: Atkins once described her as “an amazing nightmare”, Turner calls Atkins “extremely difficult”.
As for the cast of Friends, the hugely successful sitcom she joined briefly in the role of Chandler’s cross-dressing father, they were thoughtless and self-involved and as for their acting abilities – “I won’t comment on that.”
Perhaps part of the reason Turner feels free to be so frank is that there is little prospect of a phone call from a Hollywood casting director any time soon.
The actress whose husky voice became a trademark in her heyday and helped make her one of the biggest stars of that era has disappeared from our screens in recent years, devoting herself to the theatre instead and conducting master classes for drama students.
A combination of illness, addiction and a reputation for being difficult meant her film career was all but over by the age of 36.
Kathleen Turner alongside Rachel Weiss
So when she sat down with David Marchese from New York magazine’s culture site Vulture earlier this month she was in a mood to let rip.
The first diva in her sights is Dame Elizabeth Taylor.
Asked if she had reacquainted herself with Taylor’s performance as Martha in the classic play Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? before she took on the role herself, she says: “God, no.
“Quite the opposite.
“For a while I felt like half my life was making her wrongs right.”
She goes on to describe Taylor’s voice in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof as “awful” and refuses to follow in the serial Mrs Burton’s footsteps as Princess Kosmonopolis in Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird Of Youth.
“Enough Taylor s**t,” she says.
It’s easy to see why Turner says her career has been driven by “rage”.
Dame Elizabeth Taylor’s voice was ‘awful’ according to Kathleen Turner
Next in the line of fire is Jack Nicholson.
After Turner’s “jaw-dropping” film debut in Body Heat “she built a career on adventurousness and frank sexuality born of robust physicality,” according to the New York Times.
This did not go unnoticed by Nicholson and Warren Beatty.
When she and Nicholson were filming mafia comedy Prizzi’s Honor in 1984, a group of the cast and crew went back to his home for dinner.
“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’.”
She had problems of a different sort with her Body Heat co-star William Hurt.
“Bill can be very odd,” says Turner, who revealed in her memoirs that he was a fan of hallucinogenic magic mushrooms.
Jack Nicholson starred with Kathleen Turner in Prizzi’s Honor
“One night while we were shooting Body Heat we were sitting around and for some reason he wanted to talk about how we’d each like to die.
“I don’t remember what my answer was but he said he wanted to be sucked up into a jet engine.”
One of her very worst on-set experiences occurred during the filming of 1988 newsroom comedy Switching Channels.
“Working with Burt Reynolds was terrible,” she says.
“The first day Burt came in he made me cry.
“He said something about not taking second place to a woman.
“His behaviour was shocking.
“It never occurred to me that I wasn’t someone’s equal.
Turner with real estate mogul Donald Trump and her then husband Jay Weiss
“I called my husband and said, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ He said, ‘You just do the job’.”
The husband in question was New York property developer Jay Weiss, the father of her daughter Rachel, 30. The couple divorced in 2007.
Turner is also asked whether she ever came across Donald Trump – a familiar sight on the Manhattan social scene when Turner was flying high in the 1980s.
“Yes. Yuck. He has this gross handshake,” she says. “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.”
Turner’s now notoriously bad relationship with Dame Eileen Atkins developed during the 1995 Broadway run of a play called Indiscretions.
At the time Turner was in a great deal of pain from rheumatoid arthritis despite being on a new type of medication which was making her “fuzzy”.
This had the effect of making it more difficult than normal to remember her lines and she speculates that this may have irritated Atkins.
Kathleen Turner had a fractious relationship with Dame Eileen Atkins
“I would say to the cast on some nights, ‘Tonight is really bad.
“’Please avoid this wrist.’
“And on those nights when Eileen particularly disapproved of me, during a scene where I was supposed to be dead she would… sit right on my wrist.
“I would just lie there, trying not to gasp.”
It should be said that a representative of Dame Eileen contacted by Vulture denied that the incident described ever happened.
Turner feels that part of the reason her career spiralled down so quickly was due to a lack of understanding of autoimmune diseases such as her own and points out that by contrast actors with drink problems, such as Robert Downey Junior, were indulged.
“Someone like him could show up on set and be drunk or misbehave in some way but he would still get hired because producers figured they could control that kind of behaviour.
“But if you say, ‘I have a mysterious illness and I don’t know if I’ll be able to walk tomorrow’ – you’re not getting hired.
“And the only real effective treatment back then was massive doses of steroids, which have massive side effects.
“If I went to pick up a bottle, for example, I couldn’t grip it and people would assume I was inebriated.”
That said, Turner did succumb to a drink problem in 2002.
Kathleen Turner and Burt Reynolds did not get on
In the Vulture interview she admits that she self-medicated on alcohol, a practice that led to a spell in rehab at the Marworth hospital in Waverly, Pennsylvania, after leaving a stage production of The Graduate.
“I have no problem with alcohol when I’m working,” she once explained.
“It’s when I’m home alone that I can’t control my drinking.
“I was going toward excess.
“I mean, really! I think I was losing my control over it.
“So it pulled me back.”
One victim of Turner’s sniping is a “very famous actress” whom she refuses to name.
After pointing out that there is “intense pressure to repeat successful characters,” she says of the anonymous superstar: “She 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’d shoot myself if I were like that, only giving people what they expect.”
These incendiary remarks fired the starting gun on a race to identify the subject, with one website touting six possible suspects including Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston.
The only actor who escapes virtually unscathed from Turner’s unsparing judgments is, perhaps surprisingly, former sex addict Michael Douglas.
The man who co-starred with her in The War Of The Roses, Romancing The Stone and The Jewel Of The Nile and supported her in a row with the studio over the dark ending to the first film and, like Danny DeVito, called her to say he was there for her when she got sick.
“So they’re true friends,” she says, in a rare moment of positivity.
Read more here: Daily Express :: Celebrity News Feedhappy wheels
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