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Kathleen Turner wants women to realize their own value

March 30, 2017 at 5:06 PM EDT
Kathleen Turner has said she is no good at playing victim roles. The actress who starred in “Body Heat” as well as on Broadway, gives her Brief But Spectacular take on a being a woman who likes to push the envelope, if not downright tear it.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to another in our Brief But Spectacular series, where we ask people about their passions.

Well before the recent worldwide women’s general strike, award-winning actress Kathleen Turner has been advocating for women’s equality. Her new book is “Send Yourself Roses.”

QUESTION: My favorite line in film is something that you said in “Body Heat.”

KATHLEEN TURNER, Actress: Oh. I know the one.

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

When I came to New York, I wanted to be a Broadway star. I always sort of thought film happened to me. I thought, OK, better learn this quick. “Body Heat” was my first film. I was 25 when they cast me.

I think it’s probably everybody’s favorite moment when he smashes the window in. Come on. That’s hot.

I certainly like to push the envelope, if not tear it. Most of my films are new territory. If you look at “Crimes of Passion,” that was certainly unheard of. The comedy in “The Man With Two Brains.”

In 1990, I decided then to go back to Broadway to do “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” and, yes, I got calls from Michael Douglas, Jack Nicholson, to say, don’t do it, don’t do it. You will have this big target on your back. You know, they think of you as a movie star, and they will be out to get you on the stage. My answer was, no, you don’t understand. I’m better on stage.

When I get very nervous or something, my response is to get cocky. When doing theater, you are in a performance mode, right up through 11:00 at night. Everything you do is about that curtain going up at 8:00.

And it is addictively alive. I have said that I am no good at playing victims. I don’t believe I have ever thought of it as the enforcer role, decisive perhaps, assertive. What would be called decisive certainly in a male role is probably called difficult in a woman, which is really, you know, stupid.

Forty percent of the American families are, the woman is the major breadwinner. Take that.

Years ago, in all my speeches, I would propose a woman’s stop day. Don’t go to the office. Don’t show up on the set. Just sit down. Certainly, we would show everyone our value to the country, but, maybe more important, we would show ourselves.

My name is Kathleen Turner, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on my body of work to date. I’m not done yet.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And what a voice.

You can watch additional Brief But Spectacular episodes on our Web site. That’s pbs.org/newshour/brief.

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