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Angela Bassett Recalls 'Draining' 16-Hour Days Filming Violent Scenes in Oscar-Nominated Tina Turner Film (Exclusive)

"I literally wailed, cried for 16 hours, whether I was on-screen or off-screen for my costars," Bassett says

<p>John Russo</p> Angela Bassett

John Russo

Angela Bassett

Angela Bassett, who took home an honorary Oscar in January, says there were elements playing Tina Turner in the 1993 biopic What's Love Got to Do with It that took a toll.

Earning her first Oscar nomination, Bassett starred as Turner, who died in 2023 at the age of 83, alongside Laurence Fishburne, who played the "Proud Mary" singer's longtime musical partner and serial abuser, Ike Turner.

"It's not playtime or acting. You assess a part of your spirit in the portrayal when you really connect," Bassett, 65, says in her recent PEOPLE cover story of recreating the more tragic parts of the late music icon's life.


Tina and Ike, who died of a cocaine overdose in December 2007, were married in 1962, divorcing 16 years later. After their split, Tina was candid and open publicly about the years of abuse she suffered from Ike.

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Bassett says that Fishburne, 62, would often be her advocate on set of the biopic while they shot the violent scenes — a process that sometimes took 16 hours a day.

"I was newbie on the scene, I don't have so much influence or say," she recalls. "But I had an advocate who would join me by my side and we would say, in a firm and delicate way, 'We got it.'"

Related: Angela Bassett Keeps This PEOPLE Picture of Her Twins as Babies in Her Living Room: ‘Cute as Can Be’ (Exclusive)

Bassett particularly remembers filming a harrowing scene in the movie when Ike chokes Tina, pushing her up against a fish tank and raping her. "To portray the particular violence of rape was just emotionally draining and would be for anyone," says Bassett.

In another scene, Ike "knocked" Tina over the back of a couch. "I literally wailed, cried for 16 hours, whether I was on-screen or off-screen for my costars," says Bassett. "I probably wouldn't do that today. But during that time we were just so committed through the fire."

<p>Alamy</p> Angela Bassett in <em>What's Love Got to Do with It</em>


Angela Bassett in What's Love Got to Do with It

Related: Angela Bassett's 2 Kids: All About Bronwyn and Slater Vance

Despite the difficulty of shooting What's Love Got to Do with It, the actress calls the film "a real watershed moment in my life. And I knew in the making of it that it had the possibility of changing my life and it could change the trajectory of my career."

Last year, Bassett earned her second Academy Award nomination in 2023 for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but the frontrunner ultimately lost to Everything Everywhere All at Once star Jamie Lee Curtis.

Bassett opened up about her honest reaction in the moment - a flicker of sadness that quickly went viral - in a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey for an OWN Spotlight special. "It was, of course, a supreme disappointment, and disappointment is human," Bassett said. "So I thought, yes, I was disappointed, and I handled it like a human being."

In her recent PEOPLE cover story, Bassett said despite the loss that night, she always reaches for the positive. “One of the things that always that I say to myself and to my kids is, ‘Find the good and praise it,' ” Bassett tells PEOPLE,

<p>VALERIE MACON/getty</p> Angela Bassett, second from right, with husband Courtney B. Vance, far right, and their twins Slater Vance, left, and Bronwyn Vance


Angela Bassett, second from right, with husband Courtney B. Vance, far right, and their twins Slater Vance, left, and Bronwyn Vance

Bassett was awarded an honorary Oscar in January celebrating her body of work, an experience she proudly shared with her family by her side.

Courtney B. Vance, Bassett's Emmy-winning husband of 26 years, tells PEOPLE that in her private life, his wife is “very shy” about her accomplishments.

“She’ll never toot her own horn,” he says. “The honorary Oscar was a wonderful night, but I flashed back to 30 years ago when they didn’t call her name, and then when they didn’t call her name last March. This was an opportunity for her to stand up there. A lot of people saw it, but not the billion people that would see it at the Oscars. But it meant everything to her.”

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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