Kathleen Turner autobiography ‘Send Yourself Roses’: ‘Body Heat’ & ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’ actress discusses William Hurt & Nicolas Cage + Burt Reynolds
Excerpts from the upcoming Kathleen Turner autobiography Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles (co-written with Gloria Feldt), to come out in February 2008 via Hachette Book Group’s Springboard Press division, have surfaced on several online venues.
Among the topics the Body Heat and Peggy Sue Got Married actress discusses in her book are co-stars William Hurt, Nicolas Cage, and Burt Reynolds. See below.
“In those days, he was pretty wild. He drank a great deal and took a lot of recreational drugs – he loved those magic mushrooms. He loved women, too; I don’t know how many he went through during filming. Bill always wanted to stay in character … [William Hurt] thought I wasn’t taking my acting seriously enough.”
In Body Heat, Kathleen Turner plays a femme fatale along the lines of Barbara Stanwyck in Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity and Jane Greer in Jacques Tourneur’s Out of the Past. Like Fred MacMurray and Robert Mitchum before him, William Hurt is both the object of the antiheroine’s desire and the means for the achievement of her goals.
Kathleen Turner on future Best Actor Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas, 1995) while working with him in his uncle Francis Ford Coppola’s 1986 box office hit Peggy Sue Got Married:
“Everything Francis wanted him to do, he went against to show that he wasn’t under his uncle’s wing. Which was ridiculous. Oh, that stupid voice of his and the fake teeth! Honestly, I cringe to think about it. He caused so many problems. He was arrested twice for drunk driving and, I think, once for stealing a dog. He’d come across a Chihuahua he liked and stuck it in his jacket.”
For the record: Nicolas Cage has denied both the drunk driving arrests and the dog theft. (See update further below.)
A sort of female-centered Back to the Future, Peggy Sue Got Married earned Kathleen Turner her – to date – one and only Best Actress Oscar nomination, in addition to that year’s Best Actress National Board of Review award. Nicolas Cage (“Oh, that stupid voice…”) was badly miscast as her love interest.
And here’s Kathleen Turner on working with veteran – and at the time, fast-waning – Burt Reynolds (Deliverance, Smokey and the Bandit) in Ted Kotcheff’s 1988 critical and box office disaster Switching Channels, an updated film version of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s 1928 Broadway hit comedy The Front Page:
“[Switching Channels was] my unhappiest experience as an actress … For whatever reason, the first thing Burt said to me was: ‘I’ve never taken second billing to a woman.’ Oh, every day there were nasty little digs. For instance, because of my pregnancy, the production team had given me a golf cart so I didn’t have to walk around too much – and Burt even made fun of that. He was just nasty.
“He later accused me of trying to get him sacked … and publicly declared that the sound of my name made him want to vomit.”
In Switching Channels, Kathleen Turner plays a cable news station journalist about to call it quits so she can marry wealthy industrialist Christopher Reeve. Burt Reynolds plays her boss and ex-husband who’ll stop at nothing to keep her on the job.
Kathleen Turner movies
In addition to Body Heat, Peggy Sue Got Married, and Switching Channels, Kathleen Turner movies include:
- Carl Reiner’s sci-fi comedy The Man with Two Brains (1983), with Steve Martin as the titular character and Turner as his scheming, fake-headache-prone femme fatale wife.
- Robert Zemeckis’ female-centered adventure comedy/sleeper blockbuster Romancing the Stone (1984) and its less warmly received – but equally successful – sequel, Lewis Teague’s The Jewel of the Nile (1985), both co-starring Michael Douglas.
- Ken Russell’s controversial (but actually quite tame), Belle de Jour-ish sex drama Crimes of Passion (1984), with Turner as a fashion designer by day/sex worker by night at odds with Anthony Perkins as a Christian pastor by day/poppers-sniffing patron of sex workers by night, and John Laughlin as a hunky would-be Ordinary Joe.
Cinematic universes apart, Romancing the Stone and Crimes of Passion earned Turner the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s Best Actress award. The former title also earned her a Golden Globe in the Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical category.
‘Prizzi’s Honor’ non-honoree
Another Kathleen Turner career highlight was veteran John Huston’s Academy Award-nominated crime comedy Prizzi’s Honor, also featuring by then two-time Oscar winner Jack Nicholson (Best Actor for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975; Best Supporting Actor for Terms of Endearment, 1983), William Hickey, Robert Loggia, and the filmmaker’s daughter, Anjelica Huston.
Curiously, Turner was the one key Prizzi’s Honor performer who failed to be shortlisted for the 1985 Academy Awards. Nicholson and Hickey were nominated in the lead and supporting categories, respectively; Anjelica Huston took home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar statuette; and even Robert Loggia was in contention – for his supporting performance in Richard Marquand’s mystery drama Jagged Edge.
On the positive side, Turner did win her second Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical Golden Globe for playing mob hitman Nicholson’s partner in crime and double-crossing object of desire.
Jessica Rabbit & ‘The War of the Roses’
A few more Kathleen Turner movie titles from the late 1980s:
- Lawrence Kasdan’s Best Picture Oscar nominee The Accidental Tourist (1988), in which, as an unsympathetic, seemingly self-absorbed wife, she has a subordinate role to that of methodical husband William Hurt, who finds emotional freedom with quirky dog trainer Geena Davis (that year’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner).
- Robert Zemeckis’ blockbuster mix of live action and animation, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), with Turner heard but not seen as the femme fatale-ish Jessica Rabbit.
- Danny DeVito’s darkly entertaining divorce comedy The War of the Roses (1989), a solid box office hit that reunited her with Michael Douglas.
End of film stardom + Tony Award nominations
Following one critical hit (The Accidental Tourist), one box office hit (The War of the Roses), and two critical and box office duds (Switching Channels and Peter Del Monte’s 1987 fantasy Julia and Julia), Kathleen Turner needed a couple of big movies to put her on steadier professional ground.
Instead, a trio of early 1990s commercial and critical bombs all but ended her film stardom: Jeff Kanew’s V.I. Warshawski (1991), Michael Lessac’s House of Cards (1993), and Herbert Ross’ Undercover Blues (1993).
Most of her big-screen efforts since then have been commercial – and at times critical – flops. Notable titles include John Waters’ Serial Mom (1994), opposite Sam Waterston and Ricki Lake, and Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides (1999), opposite Kirsten Dunst and James Woods. Additionally, her voice can be heard in Gil Kenan’s Oscar-nominated animated feature Monster House (2006) – a major box office disappointment in relation to its cost.
Turner has been luckier on the stage, having received two Tony Award nominations for her star turns in revivals of Tennesse Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1990) and Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2005), both times in roles originally brought to movie life by Elizabeth Taylor.
Nicolas Cage vs. Kathleen Turner
April 4 update: Nicolas Cage sued the following for “defamation, libel and slander”: Send Yourself Roses author Kathleen Turner, U.K. publisher Headline, and Associated Newspapers, which printed a section of the book in the right-wing London tabloid Daily Mail.
In response, Turner has issued an apology. In addition, she and the publishers involved have reportedly agreed to cover Cage’s legal costs and to make a “substantial” donation to a charitable organization.
On the bright side, Send Yourself Roses did become a New York Times bestseller when it came out in February – despite the reservations of at least some reviewers. Case in point, Kirkus Reviews‘ dismissal of the book: “The title sums it up quite neatly: a self-indulgent, rambling and intermittently diverting ego parade.”
‘The Front Page’ movies
- Lewis Milestone’s Best Picture Academy Award nominee The Front Page (1931; shortlisted during the period 1930–1931), with Best Actor nominee Adolphe Menjou, Pat O’Brien, and Mary Brian.
- Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday (1940), with Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, and Ralph Bellamy.
- Billy Wilder’s The Front Page (1974), with Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, and Susan Sarandon.
Besides, George Stevens’ Gunga Din (1939) – storyline by Hecht and MacArthur – stars Cary Grant (the year before His Girl Friday) and partner Victor McLaglen doing their utmost to keep husband-to-be Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in the British army. Joan Fontaine plays Fairbanks Jr.’s sidelined fiancée.
In the initial Broadway run, the leads in The Front Page were Osgood Perkins, Lee Tracy, and Frances Fuller.
Kathleen Turner and Burt Reynolds Switching Channels image: TriStar Pictures.
Kathleen Turner and Nicolas Cage Peggy Sue Got Married image: TriStar Pictures.
“Kathleen Turner Autobiography Send Yourself Roses: Dissing William Hurt & Nicolas Cage + Burt Reynolds” last updated in October 2018.