How does it feel to be America’s newest national villain? Throughout Ike and Tina Turner’s 18-year marital and musical partnership, most people never saw beneath the vinyl-never suspected that the husband who backed his wife with such fervor on stage could be giving her the back of his hand at home. The 1986 release of her autobiography, I, Tina, and Ike’s two drug convictions in 1988 and 1990, first established his unsavory reputation, and now What’s Love etches it on celluloid. We asked the 61-year-old Turner, who says he has never read his ex-wife’s damning book, and who doesn’t plan to see the movie, how he feels about it all: Q: What’s Love Got to Do With It shows you abusing Tina pretty brutally. How does that make you feel? A: I’m not ashamed of nothing I did with her. The only time I ever hit her with my fist was that last fight we had, in the car, when she put her knee up in my chest. All the other times, there may have been slaps and stuff like that, but I didn’t abuse her. She said I broke her jawbone, but I didn’t. I slapped her going out of the door, because she screamed at me and said, pardon the expression, ”Well, f — – it!” And I slapped her backhanded. Q: The film also shows you walking into her dressing room after the divorce and threatening her with a gun. A: Bulls — -. But it’s like you needed a gun! One time I walked into the dressing room, Tina had some guy picked up against the wall and was punching him! She is nothin’ what you think she is, partner.
Q: You must have done some things to make her feel as she does. A: The only thing I did wrong to her, I feel, was the women thing. And I was just young and stupid-I mean, not stupid, but I did what I wanted to do. That’s the only thing I’m not proud of, because I know it had to be awful embarrassing for her and hurting to her, because she was acting like it didn’t bother her, because she wanted to be what she thought I wanted in a woman. So we lived partially a lie. Q: Did you meet with Laurence Fishburne, who portrayed you in the film? A: I met him one day when I passed the house where Tina and I used to live. I didn’t have no idea they was filming there. I passed by and saw trucks on both sides of the streets. I said, ”Damn, what’s going on here?” And then I saw the guy I sold the house to, my dentist. And as we were talking, Larry walked up to the car-I didn’t even know who he was-and he shook my hand. He had on some bell-bottom pants, y’know, like the ’60s. And I never thought he looked like me. I thought they were gonna get somebody who looked like me, like Wesley Snipes.