Kathleen Turner: Over 50, sexy and as smart as hell

The actor tells a British paper why she has had it with Hollywood.

Published January 19, 2006 5:02PM (EST)

The year I was 11, I rented "Romancing the Stone" about 87 times. Sure, Michael Douglas was a charmer and Danny DeVito never failed to get a laugh, but it was Kathleen Turner -- as the leggy, loopy and brave romance novelist Joan Wilder -- who really stole my girly heart.

But now that she's firmly planted in middle age, Turner hasn't showed up in a Hollywood film of any note in years -- and it's the industry's loss. At 51, her skin may not be as smooth, her legs may not be as lean and her sultry voice may have dropped another notch -- but Kathleen Turner still electrifies. In 2000, she set the British theater world aflame when, as Mrs. Robinson, she appeared naked onstage during a West End production of "The Graduate." This week, in a must-read interview with the Guardian, Turner tells reporter Sharon Krum that thanks to America's obsession with youth, she's giving up Hollywood for good.

Even if you didn't adore her before, it's impossible not to cheer Turner on after reading her scathing evisceration of American attitudes about feminine youth and beauty. "I do not admire young actresses whose foreheads cannot move," she declares. "I think, what the hell are you doing to yourself? Certainly limiting your ability to [act]."

"People [say about me,] look, her face is getting heavier, comparing me to who I was 20 years ago. Which makes no sense. They didn't stop growing or changing, why would I look the same? And if I did look the same, is that not bizarre? ... I'd say the cut-off point for leading ladies today is 35 or 40, whereas half the men in Hollywood get their start then. It's a terrible double standard."

As she got older, the Guardian reports, it became clear to Turner that roles as a "twenty-something sex bomb [were] not an option. Packing a suitcase was." So, in order to resuscitate her film career, this year she will move to Rome, armed with the belief that Europeans may have more respect for her considerable gifts. "Look at Jeanne Moreau, Catherine Deneuve and Sophia Loren, my god I could go on. They are all working," Turner explains. "I think the Europeans have enough tradition and respect for the experience and body of work of an actress that they don't sell out to the new ones."

Are her leading lady days over? Turner will only say that she has been pleasantly surprised by the interest that has been "bubbling up." The fact is, "at 50, you wake up and think, fuck you, I don't have to prove myself any more, and that makes you sexy."

Let Broadsheet be the first to say "Bon voyage" and "Brava, señora, brava!"

By Sarah Karnasiewicz

Sarah Karnasiewicz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Until recently, she was senior editor at Saveur magazine; prior to that she was deputy Life editor at Salon. She has contributed to the New York Times, the New York Observer and Rolling Stone, among other publications. For more of her work, visit thefastertimes.com/streetfood and Signs and Wonders.

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