Part of Tina Turner’s legacy included being a survivor of domestic abuse, as well as the epitome of resilience. However, once overcoming her inhumane marriage to the late Ike Turner, her life centered around her strength and picturesque comeback as opposed to her devastating past. This was part of the reason why she turned down a leading role of Celie in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple.
In a resurfaced interview from 1986, the Queen of Rock ‘N’ Roll explained why she chose to not associate with the 11x Oscar-nominated film.
“[I wanted to] do something that people would remember me for, something I would enjoy and be proud of,” she stated, but added that the film reflected “too much back on my life with my ex-husband.”
The “Proud Mary” singer continued, “I mean, I’m talking always to the press about my life and now to do a movie? I’m just dragging myself down. I’m trying to forget the past because it’s done. It’s over. I finished that part of my life, and I’m not going to do a part that will remind me of what I’ve lived already.”
She believed Spielberg “understood” why she turned the role down. Ultimately, Whoopi Goldberg went on to play Celie and received an Academy Award nomination for her performance.
A musical film adaptation, inspired by the Broadway play and Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, will premiere on Christmas Day. It stars Fantasia, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo, Halle Bailey, H.E.R., Taraji P. Henson, and more.
In the clip, Turner also addressed the lack of acting roles for Black women back then. After accepting the role of the Acid Queen in Ken Russell’s 1975 film Tommy, she initially was unaware she’d use sex work to lure in her victims.
“I took the part because I got the chance to be this mad woman and doing all these things, and when they gave me the needle, I went, ‘Oh, I’m promoting drugs!’ Then I said, ‘Oh, well, but this is acting,’ because when you’re acting, you’re just portraying the lives of anything or anyone,” she stated. Despite that being her first role, the TINA star recalled always wanting to pursue acting.
She went on to earn the starring role in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome a decade later. She loved her portrayal of Aunty Entity, because “she was a warrior woman first. It is the warrior woman parts that I want. I want physical parts. I want to drive the machines, to do the fighting. I want to be physical. I still need that excitement.”
“One of the Living,” the record from the film’s soundtrack, wound up earning Turner a Grammy for Best Female Rock Performance in 1985.