She blew up with "Body Heat," which still maintains its status as one of the sexiest movies ever, but after rising to the A-list and starring in a handful of movies, including "Romancing the Stone" with Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito and its sequel, "The Jewel of the Nile," she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and her career screeched to a halt. Told she would end up in a wheelchair, Turner went on an aggressive course of drugs that ravaged her mind and body. The woman who once said "On nights when I feel great about myself, if I walk into a room and a man doesn't look at me, he's either dead or gay," became unrecognizable to her fans. As the disease worsened, she turned to alcohol.
"When you're in chronic pain, It's very hard to realize the effect it has on your mind as well," she said. "It's a constant depressant. It really mucks up your thinking. If you go to a restaurant, is the bathroom downstairs? Because I can't go there if it is. So yeah, you try a lot of stuff, in my case, excessive drinking for a while to kill pain. And it does, it does kill pain, but it causes even more."
Turner's arthritis went into remission after years of treatment; it took longer to kick the drinking. She acted throughout -- notably on Broadway in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and on TV playing Chandler Bing's gender-bending father on "Friends." (Her comment on that role: "That was silly wasn't it? I had never been a woman playing a man playing a woman before. It was amazing!") But after wrapping filming on "The Graduate" in 2002, she checked into a Pennsylvania rehab center, and kicked the habit for good.
She's thrilled to be working again in better health, but oh, how things in Hollywood have changed. Megan Fox is hot and all, but they don't make 'em like they used to.
"One of the things that's happened over the last ten years is a kind of mean spiritedness about sex, sex being used as a weapon, instead of a glorious celebration of it," Turner said. "There's a mean spiritedness to humor now too. I just don't think that's appealing."
"I think a lot of these young actors and actresses are in a really tough position," she continued. "I always managed to keep my private life quite private. You never saw pictures of my daughter or my home. I don't know that they can do that anymore, so they're constantly on stage, as it were. I think that pressure must be awful. And I think they're too skinny. I do, I worry. I have a daughter and when she was growing up, I was like 'You look great, don't listen to any of this s**t.'"
Asked if she saw a younger version of herself in any of the industry's rising stars, Turner chortled and said she "would never be so arrogant as to think that. Everyone is themselves, everyone is unique." She herself intends to keep playing the part of the sensual seductress so long as she's given a set or stage.
"I'm not ready to say a middle aged woman no longer has sexual drive or appeal. That's really offensive. We're damn sexy, man."