Kathleen Turner Doesn't Pull Punches in Interview

She slams Hollywood sexism, mocks 'gross' Trump handshake
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2018 7:06 AM CDT
Kathleen Turner arrives at the LA Premiere Of "Dumb And Dumber To" on Monday, Nov 03, 2014, in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
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(Newser) – Kathleen Turner is making waves with a wide-ranging interview in Vulture, where she discusses subjects including acting, Hollywood sexism, the co-star she once slapped—and President Trump's "gross" handshake. Turner, who found fame with '80s hits like Body Heat and Romancing the Stone, has focused on stage acting for decades and is renowned for what the BBC calls her "iconic, smoky voice." Asked what had driven her career, Turner said the main force was "rage" at "the injustice of the world." Some highlights:

  • A career derailed by illness. Turner, 64, says she felt a sense of loss after illness struck and the Hollywood job offers dried up. "Rheumatoid arthritis hit in my late 30s—the last of my years in which Hollywood would consider me a sexually appealing leading lady," she says. "The hardest part was that so much of my confidence was based on my physicality. If I didn’t have that, who was I?"

  • Being "difficult to work with." Turner says rumors she was difficult to work with were the result of Hollywood sexism. "The 'difficult' thing was pure gender crap," she says. "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.'"
  • The contest. Jack Nicholson was great to work with in Prizzi's Honor, Turner says—but she wasn't thrilled to find out he thought of her as a trophy. "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."
  • The theater. "The roles for mature women onstage are a thousand times better than anything written in film," Turner says. "That’s why, knowing where my career could grow as I got less desirable for the camera, I focused on theater. I remember I got sent a screenplay once where the character was described as '37 but still attractive.' That pissed me off."
  • On choosing roles. Turner, talking about her refusal to be typecast, speaks of an actress who has been "playing the same role for 20 years," but declines to name her. " She even looks pretty much the same," she says. "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."
  • Slapping a co-star. Turner says she has never kicked a co-star, but she did have to slap a colleague once. "I was doing a play—there was a scene where another actor was all over my character and f----' bit me, and I was like, whack!" she says. "Maybe he didn’t mean to, but he was taking things a little far."
  • That handshake. Asked whether she'd ever met Trump in the '80s, Turner said she had—and described his "gross" handshake technique. "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."
  • Next steps. Asked about her dream role, she said she had an exciting idea for King Lear. " Usually when women play Lear, the daughters are rewritten to be sons. I’d keep them as women," she said. "There’s a power to the relationships between women that we don’t examine as much as we should."

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