Laurence Fishburne Had Angela Bassett’s Back While Filming ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’

Actress Angela Bassett recounted how Laurence Fishburne stood up for her while shooting the Oscar-nominated film What’s Love Got to Do With It.

In honor of its 30th anniversary, Bassett sat down with Variety to reflect on what it was like working on the film that garnered her a Golden Globe win and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

Bassett was up-and-coming at the time and excited to star as Tina Turner in the biopic. The movie provided shocking visuals of many of the traumatic experiences that Turner endured while married to Ike Turner and later revealed in her autobiography, I, Tina.

One unforgettable scene in the movie showed Ike sexually assaulting Tina inside a recording studio.

Bassett recalled the long and draining hours the cast and crew put in and how they would spend the day reshooting the most minuscule scenes: “We literally worked 16-hour days on the smallest of things, like cutting a ribbon.” Fishburne, she says, 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.”

Leave it to Fishburne, who started acting when he was a child in films like Cornbread, Earl, and Me, and maintained his onscreen appearances throughout the 1970s and ’80s. By 1993, Fishburne was the veteran on set.

When it came to the harrowing assault scene, Bassett “wasn’t willing” to shoot it “over and over,” and decided to talk to Fishburne about it. She didn’t feel she could speak up about it to British director Brian Gipson because she was a “new actor” just getting started in the business. Fishburne felt more comfortable speaking up to Gipson and serving as a voice for Bassett. But first he listened.

“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,'” Bassett recalled.

“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.'”

Bassett remembers, “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.”


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