‘Nothing Has Been as Difficult as Tina Turner’: Angela Bassett Says Portraying Tina Turner Makes for the Most Challenging Role In Her Career to Date

Twenty-eight years have passed since actress Angela Bassett wowed audiences with her portrayal of icon Tina Turner in the film “What’s Love Got to Do with It.” And although Bassett has starred in countless films and television shows since 1993, taking on the role of Turner is still ranked as her most challenging acting experience.

During an interview for PEOPLE’s podcast, “People Every Day,” the stunning 62-year-old spoke about the tall task of bringing Turner’s story to life for the big screen.

Angela Bassett. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

“Definitely nothing has been as difficult as Tina Turner,” Bassett said. “Nothing as difficult physically, emotionally, spiritually, vocally. Nothing, absolutely nothing.”

In the biopic, Bassett stars alongside Laurence Fishburne, who portrays Turner’s abusive ex-husband Ike Turner. Bassett said the film took a toll on her personality and body while filming — at times making it difficult to step out of character and simply be herself.

“It was good to have a colleague, to have that with someone you trust,” said Bassett during a March 2020 interview with “The Breakfast Club.”

“Because he’s really got you, you know, emotionally actor-to-actor. Because the hours were long, it was extremely physical, you actually hurt for 30 straight days…But you had to go on. And some of it was understood like dynamics within a relationship or a man and a woman, or black love, or violence or whatever and you take it seriously. Like you said, it inhabits your spirit and yet we’re making a movie. But we’re not just making a movie, but as we make this movie you’re living through it,” she continued.

While Bassett went on to win a Golden Globe for best actress in a musical or comedy, and an Oscar nomination for best actress, the role of Turner is not the only one for which she is celebrated.

From portraying a single mother in “Boyz in the Hood” to a scorned ex-wife in “Waiting to Exhale” to an overworked woman in corporate America who finds love in the Bahamas in “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” audiences have sung her praises for more than 30 years.

But by far her most regal role was portraying Ramonda, the Black Panther’s mother, in Marvel’s “Black Panther” box-office hit.

Bassett said the significance of the film and seeing powerful Black figures swayed her to break a family rule: bringing her twins: son, Slater, and daughter, Bronwyn, to the film’s premiere.

“[Black Panther] was one that we felt it was imperative that they experienced and witnessed. It’s an iconic film. It’s such positive images,” she said to Vanity Fair of her and her husband, fellow actor Courtney B. Vance. “They can see themselves in a light as warriors, as heroes, as kings, as queens, and potential panthers. All things positive. I really wanted them to experience something that in the way they carry themselves, how they walk through the day, with their heads held high and their chests poked out, feeling good about who they are.”

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