Bassett Says Fishburne Protected Her During "What's Love Got To Do"

ngela Bassett is recalling her experience on the set of “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” and how she struggled to speak out about filming the difficult assault scenes.

Bassett said she was an “up-and-coming actor” at the time and didn’t feel comfortable doing numerous takes of the abuse scenes.

The Oscar-winning actress played late music icon Tina Turner opposite Laurence Fishburne as her abusive ex-husband, Ike Turner. Speaking to Variety for the film’s 30th anniversary, Bassett said Fishburne frequently advocated for her during production.

“He was strong, he was respectful. He could bring order and he had discipline. When things got out of hand, as they did, he could bring some stoppage and clarity to the moment,” she explained. “We literally worked 16-hour days on the smallest of things, like cutting a ribbon.”

Bassett added: “And whereas I could not, as an up-and-coming actor to this white male British director, Laurence could say, ‘I think we got it. We got it.’ And then we could all go home and get some rest to be ready for the next day.”


The “Black Panther” star said she didn’t want to film the sexual assault scene “over and over and over again for 16 hours,” 

“I wasn’t willing to do that. And I knew I couldn’t ask the director because, here I am as a new actor, but I could talk to Laurence,” Bassett said.

“So Laurence asked me, ‘How many times you want to do this?’ And I looked at him, he took my hand and I said, ‘Four or five,'” she continued. “And then he told the director, like, ‘Hey man, we’re just going to do this four times. So let’s make sure we get the cameras right and we’re going to keep them outside of the studio.'”

PASADENA, CA – FEBRUARY 06: Actors Laurence Fishburne (L) and Angela Bassett speak onstage during the 46th NAACP Image Awards presented by TV One at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 6, 2015, in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)

As we reported previously, Bassett has also stepped into the shoes of Michael Jackson’s mother Katherine Jackson, portraying her in the 1992 miniseries “The Jacksons: An American Dream,” and twice as Malcolm X’s wife Betty Shabazz: Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X” in 1992, and the Mario Van Peebles-directed “Panther” in 1995.

We spoke with her in 2002 about her portrayal of Rosa Parks in the CBS film “The Rosa Parks Story.”

“I just try to remain truthful, as human as possible. And so far it has worked out for me,” Bassett said of their reactions to her cinematic work. “Tina, Ms. Shabazz, Katherine Jackson, Parks, it all worked out positively in that they’ve appreciated the portrayals.”

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