Most celebrity interviews these days are safe and cozy affairs, often PR-approved to within an inch of their lives. It’s why Kathleen Turner’s refreshingly frank and dirt-dishing chat with Vulture in 2018 caused such a stir. Here’s a look at how the Hollywood legend dragged everyone from Nicolas Cage to the beloved cast of Friends in style.
Born in Springfield, Missouri, in 1954, Kathleen Turner was initially deterred from pursuing her acting ambitions by her strict Christian parents. But after studying at Missouri State University for a couple of years, she then transferred to the University of Maryland, Baltimore, where she earned a degree in theater. Turner then made her first appearance on screen in a 1979 episode of NBC soap The Doctors.
Turner ventured into cinema as well, playing femme fatale Matty Walker in 1981’s Body Heat. She would ultimately draw comparisons with Lauren Bacall, thanks to her famously deep voice. And the move into movies paid off, too, as in 1985 Turner would win a Golden Globe for her performance in Romancing the Stone. That year, she also reunited with Danny DeVito and Michael Douglas for the romantic adventure’s sequel, The Jewel of the Nile.
Turner’s personal life took a turn during this period, too, as in 1984 she walked down the aisle with Jay Weiss, a real estate mogul. The pair also welcomed their one and only child, Rachel Ann, into the world in 1987. However, after 23 years of marriage, the couple announced their divorce in 2007. Turner later revealed that she and Weiss remained good friends.
And Turner attracted awards attention for her roles alongside Jack Nicholson in Prizzi’s Honor and Nicolas Cage in Peggy Sue Got Married. She enjoyed acclaim, too, as the voice of Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Sadly, though, the star was forced to withdraw from Hollywood at the peak of her career due to an ongoing battle with rheumatoid arthritis.
Turner even had to reject high-profile parts in The Bridges of Madison County and Ghost because of the condition. And although she did later star in critical hits House of Cards and Serial Mom, her status as leading lady had disappeared by the mid-1990s. Turner subsequently became a supporting player with roles in the likes of A Simple Wish and The Virgin Suicides.
Thankfully, though, Turner eventually received the news that her arthritis had gone into remission. Her career continued apace, too, with the star putting in a memorable guest appearance as Chandler Bing’s drag queen father in Friends. She later made cameos in Nip/Tuck and Law and Order, enjoyed a ten-episode stint as Charlie’s boss in Californication and added to her big-screen credits with Marley and Me and Dumb and Dumber To.
But alongside her voice and accomplished acting abilities, Turner is renowned for speaking her mind. Perhaps that’s why The New York Times has hailed her as a “certifiable diva”; former co-star Eileen Atkins has also described the actress as an “amazing nightmare.” However, the star later refuted these claims of being “difficult,” telling Vulture in 2018 that such talk was “pure gender crap.”
It was during this same interview that Turner gave a whole host of actors past and present a tongue-lashing. Elizabeth Taylor was the first to incur her wrath. Asked whether she’d seen the legend portraying Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? before assuming the role herself, Turner replied, “God no. Quite the opposite. For a while, I felt like half my life was making her wrongs right.”
Turner then switched her attention to another Hollywood veteran – one whom she refused to name on record. She said, “[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 would shoot myself if I were like that, only giving people what they expect.”
Nicolas Cage, her Peggy Sue Got Married co-star, was the next to get it in the neck. “He was very difficult on set,” Turner replied when asked about Cage’s choice to adopt a strange voice for the film. She added, “If anything, [Cage’s portrayal] only further illustrated my character’s disillusionment with the past. The way I saw it was, yeah, he was that asshole.”
And this wasn’t the first time that Turner had taken aim at Cage. In her 2008 autobiography, Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles, she claimed that the actor had stolen a chihuahua while under the influence. Cage later won a lawsuit in response to the allegations.
And Turner also called out Burt Reynolds – who passed away just a month after the interview was published – for his behavior. She said, “Working with Burt Reynolds was terrible. The first day Burt came in, he made me cry. He said something about not taking second place to a woman. His behavior was shocking.”
Turner then spilled the beans about her first big-screen co-star, William Hurt. She revealed, “Bill can be very odd. I remember 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… God, you did not want to get Bill talking too much.”
Donald Trump was perhaps the least surprising subject of a Turner character assassination. Asked whether she’d met the president, she replied, “Yes. He has this gross handshake. 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.’”
However, it was Turner’s comments about working on Friends that may have attracted the most attention. She said of her time on the show, “I’ll be quite honest, which is my wont: I didn’t feel very welcomed by the cast. I remember I was wearing this difficult sequined gown — and my high heels were absolutely killing me. I found it odd that none of the actors thought to offer me a seat.”
But Turner didn’t take their behavior personally. She added, “The Friends actors were such a clique — but I don’t think my experience with them was unique. I think it was simply that they were such a tight little group that nobody from the outside mattered.”
And Turner’s refreshingly candid approach to the celebrity interview received a glowing response from Twitter commenters. “I would listen to a 100-episode podcast series that’s just Kathleen Turner talking s**t about Nicolas Cage,” writer Maris Kreizman wrote. “Teach me everything, Kathleen Turner,” joked Vanity Fair’s deputy editor, Katey Rich.
Even some of Turner’s Hollywood peers took to Twitter to express their admiration at her no-holds-barred attitude. Patton Oswalt said, for instance, “I want to hang out with Kathleen Turner. Read this interview and so will you.” Many readers also enjoyed guessing the identity of the unnamed actress who’d played the same role for 20 years to whom she had referred.
And the Vulture interview wasn’t the end of all the revelations. A month later, the star discussed her career further in her second published book, Kathleen Turner on Acting: Conversations about Film, Television, and Theater. “Truly what I hope most out of this, Kathleen Turner On Acting, is to have people take risks, to have them make choices and not just accept,” Turner told Good Morning America.