Culture: Romancing Kathleen
The actress and director known for her starring roles in Romancing the Stone, Jewel of the Nile, War of the Roses and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (the voice of Jessica Rabbit), will soon be lending her trademark husky alto to classic tunes from the American songbook.
In Finding My Voice at The Apex on May 9, Kathleen will interweave songs such as Let’s Fall in Love, On the Street Where you Live, Every time we Say Goodbye and many more with stories from her remarkable life and career.
She tell us a little more about her show, her career in film and the hostile environment she and fellow actresses endured, now brought to the forefront with the Harvey Weinstein allegations.
You’re doing a one-woman music show! That’s unexpected. . .
I’ve never sung – I mean, not publicly – but I wanted to explore what I could sing and we started to find songs we loved and I felt good singing. I have a deep voice and I like the feel of it. Then I would tell a story that the song reminded me of and eventually we just said: ‘Why don’t we make a show? A one-woman show?’
What sort of stories are you telling?
Like when I was shooting Peggy Sue Got Married, I flew my grandparents in on the day I was filming a scene with Peggy Sue’s grandparents, including an actor called Leon Ames, who was 83. His line was: ‘When’s it going to be? Friday or Saturday?’ and he was saying: ‘When’s it going to be? Thursday or Friday? Oh, give me another take…’ Eventually from behind the camera I hear: ‘Oh for heaven’s sake, Friday or Saturday!’ I went, ‘Grandmommy!’ And she said: ‘Well, I’m 85. If I can retain it, why can’t he?’
Your family’s quite conservative. Were they OK about you going into acting?
My father was very much against it but he died the week before I turned 18. I was here in London at the American School because my father was at the embassy, but we ended up in Springfield, Missouri, with my grandparents. The greatest culture shock of my life!
And you moved to New York the minute you could?
The second I finished university. My car was packed and I drove to New York that night. I was supposed to share a flat with another woman but when I got there she and her boyfriend had reconciled and he’d moved in, so I spent my first night in my car. New York was very frightening back then but when you’re 21, you’re invincible.
Was your big break Body Heat?
That was my first film! But I never moved to LA. People understand it better now with all the revelations coming out but it was a very hostile environment towards women. The way they treated women, the disrespect, the sense that you were just a prop.
Did you ever experience it?
You know when it’s creepy. I got an email from my ex-husband when the whole Weinstein thing started. He said: ‘You told me 25 years ago he was a creep!’ I said: ‘I told you 30 years ago!’ But by the time I met Harvey I was well established and he tended to prey on younger, less secure women and that wasn’t me.
How did you avoid being put in that ‘sexy’ pigeonhole after Body Heat?
After Body Heat, you can imagine there were endless offers for Body Heat 2, 3, 4, whatever. And I said no. If I’ve explored one thing, I have no desire to do it again. I remember an interview I did for Playboy. I showed up for the cover shoot and they had all this lingerie and I said: ‘I don’t think so!’ I’d brought an outfit I liked, which was a long skirt. I was never going to do that crap. I wore what I wanted to wear.
You do a lot of work for women’s groups, don’t you?
I’m chair of the board of advocates for Planned Parenthood. We are clinics. We take care of women and their health. We were designed originally to help women plan their families.
Are you a feminist?
A lot of younger women are reluctant to call themselves feminists, aren’t they?
Yeah, well, they didn’t march half their lives, did they? I always have been. That was how I was brought up.
So, who are your friends when you’re in London?
I became good friends with Maggie Smith when we were in theatres next to each other. I was doing The Graduate and she was doing The Lady In The Van and there were all these barriers and police and everything for me, and I’d come out, look over and see Maggie Smith just come out of her stage door and walk away. And one day I got a note from her saying, ‘May I borrow a barrier?’ So I carried the barrier over to her stage door and asked if she’d have dinner with me on Thursday, so Thursday nights we used to have dinner at The Ivy and used to stay so late we’d close the place.
Kathleen Turner, Finding My Voice, May 9, The Apex, Bury St Edmunds. Call 01284 758000 or visit theapex.co.uk