Kathleen Turner Heats Up MFF

Kathleen Turner is a pistol. She may not have the face or body she had when she made Body Heat with William Hurt in 1981, but get over it. She’s still got the voice that made a Jessica Rabbit sizzle, but more than that she’s got the life experience. And yes we all have life experience, but hers involves Danny DeVito (“a real asshole most of the time”) and Michael Douglas and Steve Martin and Hurt and Hollywood and Broadway. She’s turned into a tough cookie with a ton of terrific stories and she’s great.

And by the way — and I was sitting in the front row last night at her Montclair Film Festival tribute at the Bellevue Theater — she looks a lot better than she did in 2009 playing the editor/dominatrix Sue Collini in Californication.

And oh that voice. What is it? Gravel wrapped in velvet or something?

“I always had a low voice,” Turner said in response to a question from the audience. “When I was in junior high school, they put me in the boy’s choir.”

Although it eventually became one of her strongest assets, Turner said it was hard when she was 21, looked 21, but sounded much older. After Kasdan cast her in Body Heat — her first film role — he asked her how old she was. She said 25. “No,” he said. “You’re 30.” That was the age she was give to the world.

She talked about how she still does vocal exercises daily — she does more theater these days than film — and how when she was doing eight shows a week on Broadway (most notably in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), she often went on voice rest offstage, handing waiters and friends a little sign: “I am on voice rest. Please ask yes or no questions.”

“Doing theater is seriously not for sissies,” she said. “It is seriously an athlete’s job.”

Sitting on the high stool onstage, Turner’s resting expression, listening to questions from MFF programmer Thom Powers or the audience, was usually tough and skeptical. But once the questions ended and it was her turn, Turner would break into a grin and say something like, “Here we go,” and sudden there would be a wide smile and half way through her answer a huge throaty laugh. For a while, I stopped taking notes just to watch and I realized, yes, she was seducing the audience.

And it worked.

One of the most interesting questions  from the audience was about her moral position towards the character, Matty Walker, in Body Heat.

“What?” Turner said with an expression of mock disbelief. “You didn’t approve of Mattie?”

But then she talked about how, during the process of becoming every character she ever played in a movie, she would think “I hate this woman.” She would think, “Why doesn’t she do something constructive?” And then she’d go to the backstory — in Mattie’s case, a past that involved some poverty — and she’d conclude, “Okay, that makes sense to me.”

It didn’t mean she had to approve of the character’s choice. “If I play a prostitute, I’m not going to give it a try. You just try to figure it out.”

The film festival is screening Turner’s latest movie, “The Perfect Family,” in which Turner plays a character trying for the title of Catholic Woman of the Year, on Saturday. Director Anne Renton was brought onstage for the last part of the interview, and the two women discussed the process that brought Turner to the film.

“Here we go,” Turner said, with that throaty laugh. “I have decided that I am too old to work with assholes.” She paused for a beat and smile over at the young director. “She passed.”

Though the Saturday screening for The Perfect Family is sold out, the film opens in New York on Friday and is downloadable on iTunes, Renton said.



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  1. Is there supposed to be a story or video with this?

    Interestingly, when she was on Good Day New York talking about where her new film is showing, she never mentioned the Montclair Film Festival or her appearance locally..

    The lady sure has spread out since her “Body Heat” days, however ungentlemanly that sounds. Yes, we all have, but then we also never did nude scenes in movies by way of making a living.

  2. I am in agony that I can’t be there. Love her!

    The quotations coming out of the event are fantastic – witty, sharp, revealing. Too bad some people can’t appreciate values that come naturally instead of under the knife.

  3. I was hooked on her ever since Serial Mom…..my all time favorite mom and movie! I think I will buy it for myself for Mothers Day.

  4. cathar, to your point, the lady may have remained thinner had she not been stricken with rheumatoid arthritis at an early age. I believe she was thereby bedridden, or at least severely limited in her ability to get out and move.
    I still think she’s hot. And what you can’t see in the picture is her sexy voice.

  5. We can only all join in thanking God that cathar never had to do nude scenes in order to make a living. His naked ignorance, on display on a regular basis, is already more than most want to see.

    I’m reminded, when thinking of our resident dope, of Ms Turner’s great line in the aforementioned film BODY HEAT, to wit” “You’re pretty stupid. I like that in a man.”

  6. Actually, croiagusanam, speaking of stupidity (or anyway of your driving need to play one-upmanship, I suppose it helps the at least emotionally bedridden like yourself to “play” this way), I believe the proper lines from “Body Heat” go something like this: “You’re not too bright, are you? Good, I like that in a man.”

    And God knows, croi, you’ve plenty of time to watch movies over and over. So get those quotes right, man! (Otherwise, the good prof, I’m sure, would happily flunk you should you take one of his classes at Montclair State.)

    Few of us make our livings via free display of our bodies. (Not even thee, croiagusanam, unless you formerly cavorted and jigged at Chippendale’s or some similar employment before you turned to posting here.) Kathleen Turner did for a while. It was a fairly short while, however, and in an industry where, like it or not, appearance counts for an awful lot. No one ever wanted to see Sidney Greenstreet do nude scenes, is chattering today for more, more, more of Rosie O’Donnell in the flesh, you know?

    That Turner might be prone to self-delusion and extreme vanity, however, is hinted at by her claim on “Good Day New York” this morning that there’s talk of a third “Romancing The Stone”-type movie. Rheumatoid arthritis is, I’m sure, a hard thing to live with. But others I’ve known with it have not jumped so in dress sizes. That Ms. Turner may claim this condition affected her heft does not necessarily make it so. In any case, I’m sure she finds roles to her liking or former financial demands in short supply these days.

  7. Do you guys sit side by side in virtual rocking chairs when you bicker like this? I like the “I like that in a man” line, though, but I fear the thought of cathar naked will haunt me all night.


    Huh? Wha? Oh, I’m sorry cathar! Did you say something?

  9. Why Cathar – YOU PIG! – I’m not surprised that all you’d value in a woman are her selected body parts.

    The quote is “You’re not too smart, are you? I like that in a man.”

    It does fit YOU cathar – to a T!

  10. People can be so nasty. Pointing out how an aging woman has put on weight, calling people pigs. Thank goodness none of you is running for local political office.

  11. Cathar, Ms. Turner had an exceptional role in Californication. I haven’t seen the new film, but it sounds as though it’s another good selection for her. And both of these are probably far superior to any acting gig you’d be offered!

  12. A woman’s sexiness and desirability, or a man’s for that matter, is based on so much more than just body size, a few grey hairs, or some facial wrinkles. I think Kathleen Turner looks great and she exudes a kind or charismatic charm that we should all be so lucky to have at any age.

  13. Oh I beg to differ, JG. I’m certain that cathar, sporting a fez, would be brillant in the role of Major Hoople in a flim version of “Our Boarding House”.

    Or really in any part that called for a fatuous blowhard with zero social skills and an absent sense of humour.

    I see the red carpet in his future!

  14. The thought of most of the images I have of posters on this site naked gives me the creeps. But a naked “rank out” contest in virtual rocking chairs is a hoot.

    Love Kathleen Turner. She peovides older, slightly over weight, arthritic women a fine role model.

  15. I’ve long been fascinated by how quickly Kathleen Turner’s looks dramatically changed. Anti-inflamatory medications such as steroids can cause puffiness and weight gain. Seen Jerry Lewis lately? However, smoking, lifestyle, and genetics seem to have contributed significantly. It just seemed to have happened so fast…

  16. If Kathleen Turner instead of Karen Turner were running for MTC mayor–would she have a chance against the competition?

  17. I had the pleasure of spending a week with Kathleen Turner at a resort in California several years ago. She was writing her autobiography with Gloria Feldt and left one day to film her part in FX’s Nip/Tuck, which was one of my favorite shows at the time.
    I watched Kathleen work so hard to battle the pain of her RA, which was by all measures excruciating. She is warm and lovely and lively and funny and she had no star attitude whatsoever. Having spent many hours with her, I can say she is one of the bravest, inspiring and engaging ladies I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet.

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