In an interview with The Guardian published Monday, Golden Globe-winning actress Kathleen Turner (“Body Heat”) discussed a number of topics, including her career, health, relationship with Michael Douglas and her history with booze.
Turner, who won two Golden Globe Awards in the 1980s and has been nominated for an Academy award, a Grammy Award and two only Awards, is now 67 years old and spent much of her interview reminiscing and reflecting.
At the peak of her career, Turner was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that affects the joints and organs and causes a great deal of pain and swelling. This illness began to make her acting career very difficult.
“I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t hold a glass. The only way I could go up and down stairs was on my butt, pushing myself,” Turner told The Guardian. “The pain is very bad because there’s no way to sit, lie or stand that allows you to escape it. People don’t understand because it’s not life-threatening. It will not kill me, but it kills your life.”
Turner was struggling, but she didn’t want to publicly reveal what was wrong with her, as she worried she wouldn’t be hired if the public knew about her disease. While she wasn’t doing well with her illness, gaining weight and taking smaller roles rumors began to spread that Turner had a drinking problem.
Turner did indeed up drinking in excess to ease the pain.
“It was incredibly stupid. I had this thing in my head where I thought: ‘I’m not taking pain pills – they are addictive and dangerous.’ But it was OK to have that second or third vodka,” Turner told The Guardian. Eventually, she realized the impact her drinking problem was having. “I thought: ‘I am wasting my entire day with my daughter, with my husband, because I’d close myself down and drink.’”
She checked into rehab in 2002. Meeting fellow patients whose drinking problems were more drastic helped Turner understand the scope of her own alcohol use.
“I couldn’t see that in myself at all,” Turner told The Guardian of meeting patients who had killed someone due to their alcohol abuse. “I thought: ‘OK, it’s not me. I’m not an alcoholic, but I am an abuser [of drink].’ So I stopped drinking for a couple of years.”
Today, Turner says she enjoys the occasional cocktail — and holds poker nights with a group of female friends, where they eat sushi and drink bourbon — but doesn’t drink to excess.
“I don’t imagine I’ll ever drink like that again,” Turner said. “But then I don’t have that amount of pain, either.”
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