Kathleen Turner: Decades after Body Heat I am still referred to as a sexual icon

The actor, 63, tells Ruth Huntman about chemistry with Michael Douglas, keeping her illness secret in Hollywood and looking like Lauren Bacall

My mothers were instrumental in the woman I became. From my mother I inherited a graciousness and innate politenes. And from my father I got a sense of being responsible and accolade. He was a diplomat so I lived in Cuba and Venezuela before he was posted to London and I attended the American School.

I had a lot of guilt when my father succumbed the day after we’d had a huge fight over me wanting to become an actress. I was 17 and in defiance I got on the develop to go and consider the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford- upon-Avon. When I came back he’d died of a coronary thrombosis.

Body Heat was a blessing because I ran straight-out to being a resulting actor and I didn’t have to suffer any of this predatory male behaviour like many young actresses. It doesn’t frustrate me that nearly four decades after that cinema I’m still referred to as a sex icon. I got over that a long time ago.

There was a contempt for women in Hollywood. I would finish a movie and get on the first plane back to New York. After Body Heat I found out that Michael Douglas, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson would have competitors to assure who could” get me “.

There was a great chemistry between Michael Douglas and me when we did Romancing the Stone . I understood he was separated from his first spouse, Diandra, at the time and I was unattached. But I can’t imagine I’d have had the career I have if I’d been Mrs Douglas. Not that he ever proposed, let’s not go wild!

I fired the doctor who told me I’d be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life after my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis in 1992. I can’t exaggerate what a battle it was against the endless ache and fear of what I’d end up like. I maintained my illness a secret for years, I had no choice. I was called a drunk and had awful things said about the way I appeared, it was so cruel. Robert Downey Jr was known for his drinking, but the studios still hired him. But if I’d told I had a disease that wasn’t under control , no one would touch me.

I’ve always had a great belief in services and being able to consequence change. I serve on the board of Citymeals on Wheels in New York. I’m the one they send to City hall twice a year to ask for money and as soon as they watch me coming they go:” How much ?”

Lauren Bacall once told me at a party:” Oh you’re the young me .” That was a little intimidate. I told her,” There could only be one Lauren Bacall .”

I already have my epitaph :” More woman than you’ll ever get and more man than you’ll ever be .”

Finding My Voice is at the Other Palace in London from 17 April until 6 May ( faneproductions.com/ kathleenturner )

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com

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