Kathleen Turner dishes on her crush on Michael Douglas and their TV reunion
In the 1980s, Kathleen Turner was as hot as it gets: She was funny, sultry, adventurous and sassy in films like “Body Heat,” “Romancing the Stone” (one of three movies she’s made with Michael Douglas), “Prizzi’s Honor” and “The Man With Two Brains.” And she used that classic low, raspy voice to incredible effect as Jessica Rabbit in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”
And then came rheumatoid arthritis, which took her off the front burner for years. But now she’s back with Douglas and more bad-assier than ever in “The Kominsky Method.” The actress talked with The Envelope about reuniting with her former crush, pushing back against Hollywood and how some starlets today are just boring.
You were able to shoot “The Kominsky Method” amid the COVID-19 pandemic. What was it like to work with Michael Douglas so closely again?
Easy. It was a no-brainer. We just … “Hello, you!” “Hello, you!” You know? It serves the [on-screen] relationship, because it was clear that we knew each other well.
Is your connection any different now than it was 30-odd years ago?
Oh, sure. First of all, this isn’t an adventure story. We’re not exactly throwing ourselves down hills. My God, it is really so long ago. I had a ball doing [those movies with him], and we had some fine directors. It was another life, do you know what I mean?
You two had so much chemistry in those films, as you do now. Did you have a crush on each other?
Heavens, I certainly had a crush on Michael during “Romancing.” That was before I had any involvement [with my future husband]. I was fancy-free, as they say. At that point, Michael said he was separated from Diandra [Luker, his first wife]. And so it seemed as though, you know, we could have a relationship, but then Diandra came down to Mexico and that killed that. So there you go. But I was knocked out by him for a while, you bet.
He had such a great head of hair.
He still does. But thinking about it, I didn’t want that lifestyle. I didn’t want to move to Hollywood or live that way.
You’ve suffered since the 1990s with rheumatoid arthritis — did playing a character on “Kominsky” who is also ill push buttons in you?
These things always do. It doesn’t make what I’ve gone through more important, but it is a reminder. Though rheumatoid arthritis and the accompanying operations and difficulties isn’t going to kill me — but what Roz has will. But Roz is a badass. When she says, “I’m f— with you,” I love that stuff.
Were you resentful at the way your illness shifted your career trajectory and delayed this next phase in your life?
No, I was too busy fighting. I was too busy trying to hold on to what I could. I was trying to get up a flight of stairs. That’s where my focus was.
And over the course of your career, you’ve done more than your share of fighting to get the shots you want or the scripts you want or the work you want. Are you exhausted?
I’m a woman who has an opinion; you can put it that way. I don’t do characters that are like each other. Each role I do is probably opposite to the one before. I think people or industry experts just expect if you’re good or successful in one aspect, you should stay there — and I don’t agree.
Now that restrictions are being lifted around New York, where you live, what are you most looking forward to getting back to?
What I’ve missed more than anything is the live performance, theater. Both watching and doing — that’s like withdrawal to me. The last couple of years, I’d created a cabaret evening called “Finding My Voice,” partly because I’ve never sung before really, and partly it’s about my life and stuff. I had all kinds of bookings in 2020, and like everybody, those were lost.
What was singing in public for the first time like?
Very intimidating at first. I’m not really known for my singing voice, although I’m told it’s pretty darn good. I was more nervous than I’ve been in years.
Are you a tenor or an alto?
I’m a baritone, honey. That’s one reason I haven’t sung in public before. There aren’t any roles written for me.
And they wouldn’t use your singing voice when you played Jessica Rabbit, right? They got Amy Irving to do it. Was that your decision?
I wanted to, actually, but Amy was married to [executive producer] Steven Spielberg at the time. It was a done deal.
What advice would you offer women getting into the business of acting these days?
It’s tough now. Harder than it was when I was starting out. I shot this pilot and went to dinner with the cast and they spent the entire meal talking about how many calories there were in pasta and how naughty they were to eat it. I thought, “Do they spend hours every day thinking only about themselves?” That’s boring. I don’t want to use all my energy on my appearance or social media and stuff. I’m still kind of a rebel in that way.
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