Tina Turner's story of overcoming adversity has been well-documented throughout her career, from her harrowing memoir I, Tina to 2020's passionate documentary Tina. In 1993, I, Tina was adapted into the critically-acclaimed film What's Love Got to Do with It, bringing the Queen of Rock's story into the mainstream - for better or for worse.
For the dramatization of Tina's turbulent personal and professional relationship with ex-husband Ike Turner (with whom she'd been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991), Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne were cast as the couple. Bassett had recently earned acclaim playing powerful black women like Betty Shabazz in Malcolm X and Katherine Jackson in The Jacksons: An American Dream; the pair had also recently starred together in Boyz N The Hood.
As Bassett was only cast a month before shooting, she had limited time to learn how to imitate Tina's onstage motions and persona. (The decision was made for her to lip-sync to newly recorded vocals by Turner.) Fishburne, too, had limited contact with the real Ike - "He was not particularly welcome on this project," the actor told the Los Angeles Times - although his voice was used on the soundtrack.
While Tina was involved in the film, which closes with concert footage of her and a Top 10 hit, "I Don't Wanna Fight," she took exception to the film's script. “I tried to explain it to Disney,” she told Vanity Fair that year. “[They see] a deep need - a woman who was a victim to a con man. How weak! How shallow! How dare you think that was what I was? I was in control every minute there. I was there because I wanted to be, because I had promised.” She only copped to watching a portion of the film in 2018 to Oprah Winfrey, saying, "I didn't finish it because that was not how things went...I didn't realize they would change the details so much." Indeed, watching Tina earlier this year, it's clear that being made to relive the trauma she dared to share with the world was not easy, either.
But audiences and critics adored the film: both stars received Oscar nominations for their work, while Bassett took home a Golden Globe for her performance.