Q&A with Theater Powerhouse Kathleen Turner

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One word in that smoky voice, and you know it’s Kathleen Turner, who made a name for herself in 1981’s Body Heat and quickly became a big-screen star.


Turner’s roles have run the gamut, from blockbusters (Romancing the Stone, War of the Roses) to camp (Serial Mom) to television (she played Chandler Bing’s drag queen father on Friends) and now to stage (her devastating turns as Maggie from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Martha from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? cemented her status as theater royalty). On November 21, the Oscar and Tony nominee will grace the floorboards again, this time at the Berkeley Rep in Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins.

BK: What drew you to playing american humorist and political commentator Molly Ivins?

KT: Molly championed being a part of our American government. We also had a lot in common in terms of our liberal political views and, most important, about women’s rights.

BK: Film or theater?

KT: I don’t mean to sound pompous, but there’s nothing like theater. You’re there with strangers, creating a shared moment. It’s one of the few chances we get these days where people come together and sit close to each other.

BK: Do you feel that your famous voice has pigeonholed you?

KT: Yes, when I was younger. I had to audition for older roles. But today, I use my voice as a singing instrument. I can play with it and use it as a tool in my work.

BK: What was the reaction to your appearing in John Waters’ Serial Mom?

KT: The studio types had no idea what John was about or what he was doing. They had no idea it was a comedy.

BK: Would you ever work with Michael Douglas again?

KT: We work well together, but my time is better spent pursuing theater. I can’t get that boy to do theater, and Lord knows I’ve tried!

BK: Bay Area haunts?

KT: I love Belvedere. I have a dear friend who lives there and it’s gorgeous. But when I’m in San Francisco, I like staying at places like The Huntington [now known as The Scarlet Huntington].

BK: What’s it like being called a “certifiable diva” by the New York Times?

KT: This is all about gender. When a man is as upfront as I am, he is championed. To those who can’t deal with me as I am, well, they can go to hell.

Runs November 21, 2014 - January 4, 2015; Berkeley Repertory Theatre: 2025 Addison St., Berkeley. Get tickets here.  

This article was published in 7x7's November 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe.

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