What's Love Got to Do with It (film)

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What's Love Got to Do with It
Whats love got to do with it poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBrian Gibson
Screenplay byKate Lanier
Based onI, Tina
by Tina Turner
Kurt Loder
Produced by
  • Doug Chapin
  • Barry Krost
CinematographyJamie Anderson
Edited byStuart Pappé
Music byStanley Clarke
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • June 6, 1993 (1993-06-06) (Los Angeles)
  • June 25, 1993 (1993-06-25) (United States)
Running time
118 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[1]
Box office$61 million[2]

What's Love Got to Do with It is a 1993 American biographical film based on the life of American-born Swiss singer Tina Turner. It was directed by Brian Gibson and written by Kate Lanier. The film stars Angela Bassett as Tina Turner and Laurence Fishburne as her husband Ike Turner.

Adapted from Tina Turner's autobiography I, Tina (1986), the film follows her life from a rural upbringing to her rise to stardom, along with her abusive marriage to Ike Turner.

What's Love Got to Do with It premiered in Los Angeles on June 6, 1993, and was theatrically released by Touchstone Pictures on June 25, 1993. Although Tina Turner and Ike Turner were not happy with the accuracy of the film, it was a critical and commercial success. It grossed $61 million on a $15 million budget. For their performances, Bassett and Fishburne received nominations at the 66th Academy Awards for Best Actress and Best Actor. Bassett also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.


Raised in Nutbush, Tennessee, Anna Mae Bullock grows up in an unhappy family with her parents leaving and abandoning her at a young age.

Following her grandmother's death, Anna Mae relocates to St. Louis, reuniting with her mother and older sister Alline. Anna Mae pursues a chance to be a professional singer, after seeing charismatic bandleader Ike Turner perform one night. Later, she wins her spot in Turner's band after singing onstage, and he begins mentoring her. In time, an unexpected romance develops between the two, after she moves into Ike's home. Shortly afterwards, they marry and begin having musical success together as Ike & Tina Turner.

The marriage quickly turns violent when Ike starts physically dominating Tina, leaving her no chance to escape. In public, Tina rises from a local St. Louis phenomenon into an international R&B star, with Ike growing increasingly jealous of the attention given to her. Ike turns to drugs as his behavior worsens while Tina finds solace in Buddhism by chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Tina grows increasingly confident and in a final fight with Ike, she finally musters the courage to defend herself; eventually she leaves Ike after they arrive at a hotel.

Winning the right to retain her stage name after their divorce, Tina continues working to pay bills. She gets a break after meeting Roger Davies, who eventually helps her realize her dreams of rock stardom. Despite Ike's attempts to win her back, Tina prevails and finds solo success, accomplishing her dreams without Ike. The film concludes with real life concert footage of Tina in the 1980s.



Angela Bassett was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Tina Turner.

Halle Berry, Robin Givens, Pam Grier, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and Vanessa L. Williams were all considered for the role of Tina Turner.[3] Whitney Houston was actually offered the role, but had to decline due to imminent maternity. Jenifer Lewis also originally auditioned to play Tina Turner but was cast instead as Tina's mother despite being only a year older than Bassett.[4]

Angela Bassett auditioned for the role in October 1992 and was chosen only a month before production began in December. During that time she had to learn not only how to talk like Turner but to dance and move like her. She would have been willing to try to do the singing as well, but ''not in the time we had,'' she said. ''I did think about it for a second, though.'' Instead, she lip syncs to soundtracks recorded by Tina Turner and Fishburne. Bassett worked with Tina Turner, but only ''a little bit.'' Turner helped most with the re-creations of her famed dance routines.[5] She also re-recorded new versions of all the Ike & Tina Turner songs used in the film.[6]

Laurence Fishburne was offered the role of Ike Turner five times and turned it down each time.[3][7] "It was pretty one-sided," said Fishburne, who turned down the project based on the script he first read. Ike, Fishburne added, was "obviously the villain of the piece, but there was no explanation as to why he behaved the way he behaved - why she was with him for 16 to 20 years, what made her stay."[5] The writers made some changes and though Ike is still shown as a pretty despicable sort, the film offers at least some insight into him - most notably a scene in which Ike recalls watching, at age 6, his father's death from wounds suffered in a fight over a woman. The changes helped persuade Fishburne to do the role, but he says that Bassett's casting as Tina "was the deciding factor."[5][7]

Fishburne did not have Ike Turner around to help model his performance as much as he would have liked. He met him once during production of the film. "He was not particularly welcome on this project," Fishburne says.[3] The actor's only meeting was a brief introduction when Ike showed up at the Turners' former home in View Park during a location shoot. Ike signed some autographs and showed Fishburne his walk. "It was nice to meet him," says Fishburne. "Regardless of his actions, he was so much a part of Tina's life. The movie is about him just as much as her. It's unfortunate that he wasn't welcomed, that both of them weren't around more."[3] Director Brian Gibson had no contact with Ike. "I never spoke to him," says Gibson. "I was not allowed to. Disney felt that it would not be a good idea."[3]

Screenwriter Kate Lanier omitted much of the brutality Tina Turner said she endured in her book.[8] Her character was also sanitized; most notably, her relationship with saxophonist Raymond Hill and the birth of their son was excluded from the film.[9] Lanier admitted that Tina Turner was not happy with certain aspects of the film because some parts were fictionalized.[8] Tina Turner tried to talk to the Disney filmmakers about the script. In 1993, she told Vanity Fair that they saw "a deep need" to make a film about "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 added, "O.K. so if I was a victim, fine. Maybe I was a victim for a short while. But give me credit for thinking the whole time I was there. See, I do have pride."[10]


Although the film was adapted from Tina Turner's autobiography I, Tina, many elements were "fictionalized for dramatic purposes."[3]

  • Ike did not sing or play guitar on the record "Rocket 88" as depicted in the film. He wrote the song and played piano on the record. His saxophonist Jackie Brenston was the vocalist. The record was released under the alias Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats who were actually Ike's band the Kings of Rhythm.[11]
  • The song Anna Mae first performs onstage with Ike, "You Know I Love You", was actually a slower B.B. King blues ballad; Ike played piano on King's record.[12] When Anna Mae sang the song, Ike played the organ, not the guitar as depicted in the film.[9] Tina recorded a blues rock rendition of the song for the film's soundtrack.
  • Anna Mae and Ike did not have sex the night his live-in girlfriend Lorraine Taylor shot herself as depicted. In reality, when Anna Mae was pregnant in 1958, Lorraine pulled a gun on her before shooting herself because she believed that Anna Mae and Ike were having an affair. However, Anna Mae and Ike were platonic friends until 1960 when she went to sleep in his bed after a musician threatened to come into her room.[13]
  • The first song Anna Mae is portrayed recording, "Tina's Wish", is actually a 1973 track titled "Make Me Over" from the album Nutbush City Limits. In reality, the first song she recorded is "Boxtop" in 1958.[14]
  • A theater marquee is shown for a 1960 show starring Otis Redding, Martha and the Vandellas, and Ike & Tina Turner. In reality, Martha and the Vandellas were known as The Del-Phis until 1961, and Otis Redding didn't release his first solo single until 1962.[15]
  • In the film, Anna Mae learns of her name change to Tina Turner after her song is played on a radio in the hospital where she had given birth. In reality, Ike & Tina Turner's debut single "A Fool In Love" was released in August 1960, months before she gave birth to their son.[16]
  • In real life, Ike didn't call her Anna Mae, he called her either Ann or "Bo" (short for her surname Bullock).[17] Even after she received the stage name Tina Turner, family and friends still called her Ann.[18]
  • The film implies that Tina's eldest child, Craig Raymond (born Raymond Craig in 1958), is Ike's biological son. In reality, his biological father was saxophonist Raymond Hill and Ike later adopted him. Tina and Ike have one biological child, Ronald "Ronnie" Renelle, born in 1960.[19]
  • The film depicts Ike and his entourage sneaking Tina out of the hospital after she gave birth to get married. In reality, Ike was not present for the birth of their son Ronnie. Tina wrote in her book that a few days after she checked herself out of the hospital, she discovered that the woman Ike hired to replace her while she recuperated was a prostitute using her stage name Tina Turner to get clients.[20] She confronted the woman and after they got into a fight, Tina performed a show that night.[21] Ike wrote in his book Takin' Back My Name that he was unaware the woman was a prostitute. He was out of town to attend a court hearing in St. Louis when Tina gave birth in Los Angeles.[17] They married in 1962, two years after the birth of their son.[17][9]
  • Lorraine Taylor, the mother of Ike's sons Ike Junior and Michael, did not drop them off at his home with Tina as depicted in the film. In reality, Ike went to St. Louis and brought his sons to Los Angeles after Lorraine informed him she was going to leave them there. Tina also brought her son Craig to live with them.[17]
  • In a scene dated 1968, Ike and Tina open for The Rolling Stones performing "Proud Mary." In reality, Ike and Tina didn't perform "Proud Mary" until after it was released by Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1969. The Rolling Stones didn't have any concerts in 1968; Ike and Tina opened for them on their 1966 British Tour and 1969 American Tour.[22]
  • Jackie and Frost are both fictional characters. Jackie represents an amalgamation of Ikettes and associates of Tina, one of which was Ike's friend Valerie Bishop who introduced Tina to Buddhism in 1973.[9]
  • The infamous "eat the cake Anna Mae" scene was an exaggerated reenactment of an incident that occurred during the early years of the revue. Tina recalled that when they stopped to order food, someone brought her a pound cake while they were sitting in a car. Although Tina said she didn't order it, Ike ordered her to eat all of it while he watched.[9]
  • The scene where Tina was raped during the recording of "Nutbush City Limits " was exaggerated from what she stated in her book. Tina claimed that sometimes after Ike would hit her, he then would have sex with her.[9] Ike maintained that he never raped Tina.[9] "Nutbush City Limits" was recorded at their Bolic Sound recording studio, not at home as depicted in the film.
  • The film depicts Tina's suicide attempt in 1974 when it actually occurred six years prior in 1968.[23]
  • Ike did not tell Tina "if you don't make it, I'll kill you" as depicted in the ambulance scene. Tina stated in her book that after her suicide attempt she joked with a friend that she was so afraid of Ike, he probably threatened her which is why she survived. She was unconscious and didn't know what he actually said. Ike stated in his book that he scolded Tina as his way of motivating her to fight for her life.[17]
  • During the time Tina is planning her comeback in the early 1980s, a reenactment of an interview features Tina rehearsing her song "I Might Have Been Queen." The song would be recorded for her 1984 comeback album, Private Dancer.
  • The incident in the Ritz Theatre where Ike fails to scare Tina with his pistol is fabricated. Allegedly, Ike made threats to hire a hitman, so Tina carried a pistol, but he did not threaten her in person with a gun as depicted.[24]
  • Before performing "What's Love Got to Do with It " at the Ritz in 1983, the emcee announces that it was her "first appearance," but she first performed there in 1981. Her 1983 performance there occurred before the recording of "What's Love Got to Do with It" and led to Capitol Records signing a contract with her.[9]
  • A title card at the end states that Tina's first solo album won four Grammy Awards, implying it was Private Dancer. In reality that album was her fifth solo album. Her first two solo albums (Tina Turns The Country On! and Acid Queen) were released while she was still with Ike, and two (Rough and Love Explosion) were released after.[25]


Critical response[edit]

What's Love Got to Do with It received critical acclaim.[26][27][28] On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a "Certified Fresh" approval rating of 97% based on 58 reviews. The site's consensus is: "With a fascinating real-life story and powerhouse performances from Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, What's Love Got to Do with It is a can't miss biopic."[29] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade A on scale of A to F.[30]

Janet Maslin of The New York Times, wrote: "The brilliant, mercurial portrayal of Ike Turner by Laurence Fishburne, formerly known as Larry, is what elevates 'What's Love Got to Do With It' beyond the realm of run-of-the-mill biography."[31] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave it 4 out of 4, calling it: "A powerful, joyful, raw, energetically acted bio-pic detailing the joys and pain of the on- and offstage lives of blues rockers Ike and Tina Turner."[32]

Ike Turner said that the film and Tina Turner's book are "filled with lies".[33][34] In his autobiography, Takin' Back My Name, he said Fishburne did "a fantastic job, though the job he did isn't really me".[17] He was especially upset about the fabricated rape scene, which he said "was the lowest thing they could have ever done". He added that the film damaged his reputation.[17] At Turner's funeral, Phil Spector criticized the film and Tina's book as a "piece of trash" which "demonized and vilified Ike".[35]

Tina Turner stated she wished the film had more truth to it and she was not proud that the film had her being portrayed as a "victim".[10] In 2018, Turner told Oprah Winfrey that she had only recently watched the film. She said, "I watched a little bit of it, but I didn't finish it because that was not how things went. Oprah, I didn't realize they would change the details so much."[36]

Box office[edit]

The film grossed $40.1 million in the United States and Canada and $20.5 million internationally for a worldwide total of $60.6 million.[2]


Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards[37] Best Actor Laurence Fishburne Nominated
Best Actress Angela Bassett Nominated
American Choreography Awards Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film Michael Peters Won[a]
Artios Awards[38] Best Casting for Feature Film – Drama Reuben Cannon Nominated
Brit Awards Best Soundtrack/Cast Recording What's Love Got to Do with It Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Actor Laurence Fishburne Nominated
Best Actress Angela Bassett[39] Nominated
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[40] Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Won
Grammy Awards Best Female Pop Vocal Performance "I Don't Wanna Fight" – Tina Turner Nominated
Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television "I Don't Wanna Fight" – Steve DuBerry, Lulu Lawrie & Billy Lawrie (songwriters) Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Female Performance Angela Bassett Nominated
NAACP Image Awards[41] Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Laurence Fishburne Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Angela Bassett Won
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Vanessa Bell Calloway Nominated
Jenifer Lewis Nominated
Young Artist Awards[42] Best Youth Actress Co-Starring in a Motion Picture – Drama Rae'Ven Larrymore Kelly Nominated

American Film Institute[edit]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Top lists[edit]



  1. ^ "What's Love Got to Do With It (1993) - Financial Information". The Numbers.
  2. ^ a b "Top 100 grossers worldwide, '93-94". Variety. October 17, 1994. p. M-56.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Walker, Michael (May 16, 1993). "SUMMER SNEAKS : Tina Turner's Story Through a Disney Prism : The singer's film biography, 'What's Love Got to Do With It,' focuses on her turbulent relationship with her mentor and ex-husband Ike Turner as well as her triumphant comeback - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2013-10-06.
  4. ^ Alexander, Keith L. (2017-11-24). "How 'Blackish' star Jenifer Lewis became 'the mother of black Hollywood'". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2021-07-27.
  5. ^ a b c "How Laurence And Angela Became Ike And Tina". tribunedigital-orlandosentinel. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  6. ^ What's Love Got to Do With It - Tina Turner | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved 2021-07-26
  7. ^ a b Jung, E. Alex (19 August 2020). "Laurence Fishburne Knows Who He Is". Vulture. Well, I turned the movie down five times. The reason I said yes finally was because Angie was going to play the part.
  8. ^ a b Collier, Aldore (July 1993). "'What's Love Git To Do With It': Larry Fishburne and Angela Bassett portray Ike and Tina Turner In New Movie". Ebony. 48 (9): 110–112.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Turner, Tina. (1986). I, Tina. Loder, Kurt. (1st ed.). New York: Morrow. ISBN 0688060897. OCLC 13069211.
  10. ^ a b Orth, Maureen (May 1993). "Tina Turner – The Lady Has Legs!". Vanity Fair.
  11. ^ Cawthorne & Turner, p. 46.
  12. ^ McGee, David (2005). B.B. King: There is Always One More Time. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-87930-843-8.
  13. ^ Turner & Loder, p. 59.
  14. ^ Turner & Loder, p. 57.
  15. ^ "Six definitive songs: The ultimate beginner's guide to Otis Redding". Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  16. ^ Turner & Loder, p. 64.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g Turner, Ike. (1999). Takin' Back My Name: The Confessions of Ike Turner. Cawthorne, Nigel, 1951-. London: Virgin. ISBN 1852278501. OCLC 43321298.
  18. ^ Greensmith, Bill (2015). Blues Unlimited: Essential Interviews from the Original Blues Magazine. Russell, Tony, Camarigg, Mark, Rowe, Mike. University of Illinois Press. pp. 247–248. ISBN 9780252097508.
  19. ^ Turner & Loder, p. 69.
  20. ^ Bego, Mark (1998). Tina Turner: Break Every Rule. p. 67. ISBN 9781589792531. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  21. ^ Turner & Loder, p. 70.
  22. ^ Cawthorne & Turner, p. 115.
  23. ^ Turner & Loder, p. 115.
  24. ^ Turner & Loder, p. 162.
  25. ^ "Tina Turner | Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  26. ^ "Tina turns tumultuous life into 'Love'". Baltimore Sun. 1993-06-18. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
  27. ^ Turan, Kenneth (1993-06-09). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Love': Playing It Nice and Rough : Exceptional Acting Powers Story of Up and Downs of Ike and Tina Turner". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
  28. ^ Rickey, Carrie (1994-03-24). "For Pop Queen Tina Turner, Life Was Never, Ever Nice And Easy". Philly.com. Retrieved 2013-10-05.[dead link]
  29. ^ "What's Love Got To Do With It? (1993)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 11, 2021.
  30. ^ "WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT (1993) A". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  31. ^ Maslin, Janet (9 June 1993). "Review/Film: What's Love Got to Do With It; Tina Turner's Tale: Living Life With Ike and Then Without Him". The New York Times.
  32. ^ Siskel, Gene (June 11, 1993). "TINA TURNER STORY TUNES IN TO THE RHYTHMS OF REAL LIFE". chicagotribune.com.
  33. ^ Philips, Chuck (1993-06-24). "Q&A WITH IKE TURNER : 'I Was the One Who Turned Her Into Tina Turner'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
  34. ^ "Ike Turner Says Movie Is False, Denies Beating Ex-Wife Tina Turner". Jet: 14. July 19, 1993.
  35. ^ "Phil Spector criticises Tina Turner at Ike Turner's funeral". NME.com News. Retrieved December 24, 2015.
  36. ^ "Tina Turner Talks To Oprah About Keeping Her Spirits Up After a Stroke and Losing Her Son". Oprah magazine. 2018-10-03. Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  37. ^ "The 66th Academy Awards (1994) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. AMPAS. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
  38. ^ "Nominees/Winners". Casting Society of America. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  39. ^ Seymour, Gene (1995-12-22). "Angela Bassett: Grounded--and Soaring as an Actress : After Vampires, Strange Days, the Film Star Can 'Exhale'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-22.
  40. ^ "Winners & Nominees: What's Love Got to Do with It". HFPA. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  41. ^ LEONARDI, MARISA (1994-01-07). "Michael Jackson Shares Whitney Houston's Spotlight : Honors: Houston wins five NAACP Image Awards, but Jackson gets cheers in a show marked by controversy". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  42. ^ "15th Annual Youth In Film Awards". YoungArtistAwards.org. Archived from the original on 2011-03-04. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  43. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-14.
  44. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-14.
  45. ^ "EBONY Readers Poll End Of Year". Johnson Publishing Company. 12 September 1994. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  46. ^ "Top 9 Subjects of a Music Bio-Pic". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  47. ^ "Top 10 Best Rock Biopics". Rolling Stone Readers' Poll. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  48. ^ "The Best Black Movies of the Last 30 Years". Complex. Retrieved 2018-03-31.



  1. ^ Tied with Otis Sallid for Swing Kids.

External links[edit]