Angela Bassett starred as Tina Turner in Turner’s 1993 biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It. Bassett appeared to effortlessly transform into Turner, a magnetic performer who used the power of the stage to escape from the turmoil of an abusive marriage to her husband Ike.
Bassett’s transformation was both physical in terms of molding her body to mirror Turner’s string biceps and legs, as well as emotional to capture the duality of Turner who on stage was a force to be reckoned with while she was fearful behind the scenes.
Bassett’s performance garnered her critical acclaim and is arguably the most profound of her lengthy career. In a new interview with PEOPLE Magazine’s podcast People Everday, Bassett explained the role was the most challenging of her career.
“Definitely nothing has been as difficult as Tina Turner,” she said. “Nothing as difficult physically, emotionally, spiritually, vocally. Nothing, absolutely nothing.”
The preparation journey for the film was arduous. Bassett worked out to get into the best shape for the role, endured hours of dance rehearsals and had to work to nail Turner’s diction and mannerisms.
Bassett said the role came at the perfect time and she knew early on it could be a gamechanger for her career. Despite her already starring in a string of roles, she did not have a breakout performance at the time. Bassett admitted to growing tired of auditioning, often feeling defeated throughout the audition process as an actress going out for multiple roles.
“I thought that if I were to get [the part], it would be one of those movies that would … cement my face with my name, because I was always that actor that was struggling going to auditions or doing guest spots on weekend television shows,” she said, “I told myself, ‘Whatever happens, whether it works or whether it doesn’t, it was you got to be memorable.’”
Her performance was memorable and classic. She earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and also took home a Golden Globe and NAACP Image Award for her performance as Turner.