AFI Movie Club: WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT – American Film Institute
What's Love Got To Do With It Film Still - Angela Bassett



WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT, a biopic that explores the brilliant and heartbreaking story of the legendary Tina Turner, was included on AFI’s 100 YEARS…100 CHEERS list of the most inspiring films of all time.

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Watch lead actress Angela Bassett talk about WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT in this exclusive clip from the AFI Archive:


Movie Trivia about TODAY’S FILM

DID YOU KNOW? WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT is based on Tina Turner’s 1986 autobiography, “I, Tina” – which she co-wrote with Rolling Stone journalist and MTV veejay Kurt Loder.

DID YOU KNOW? Disney’s Touchstone Pictures optioned the screen rights to Tina Turner’s autobiography in 1988. Playwright and lyricist Howard Ashman was hired to write the adaptation, but when he tragically died from AIDS, Kurt Loder – Turner’s co-writer on ”I, Tina” – was asked to take over. Touchstone wanted a more upbeat story than what Loder delivered, and he declined to adjust the script. Kate Lanier, who receives sole screenwriting credit onscreen, wrote 17 versions before it was approved by the studio.

DID YOU KNOW? Taylor Hackford was initially slated to direct WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT. He was replaced by filmmaker Mario Van Peebles, who intended to perform the role of Ike Turner. When Van Peebles was deemed “too handsome” for the part, he left the project to direct POSSE and was replaced by Brian Gibson.

DID YOU KNOW? Halle Berry, Whitney Houston and Robin Givens were all considered for the role of Tine Turner, but the singer chose Angela Bassett after she screen tested with a performance of the song “Proud Mary.” Although Tina Turner’s voice was used for all of the musical numbers, Bassett performed her own dancing sequences in the film without a double.

DID YOU KNOW? WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT omitted some key moments in Tina Turner’s life, including the birth of her son, who was fathered by one of Ike Turner’s bandmates. Touchstone also wanted to remove Ike’s common-law wife, Lorraine, but Tina Turner demanded that she be included. She also required scenes depicting her “past life” experiences, as she believed they justified her decision to stay with Ike for so long.

DID YOU KNOW? WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT was filmed in the winter of 1992 in Los Angeles, San Pedro and Sacramento. LA locations included Ike and Tina Turner’s former residence in Baldwin Hills. Tina Turner frequented the production and provided actual costumes she wore as an Ikette.

DID YOU KNOW? WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT marks Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter’s fourth feature film in her prolific and iconic career in movies and television. In 2019, she won an Oscar® for Best Costume Design on BLACK PANTHER, making her the first African-American to win an Academy Award® in that category.

DID YOU KNOW? Tina Turner launched a concert tour just three days before WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT opened in New York City and Los Angeles, in support of the film and its soundtrack record. Her involvement with WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT also resulted in a three-picture development deal with Disney.

DID YOU KNOW? WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT was nominated for two Oscars® – Best Actress in a Leading Role for Angela Bassett and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Laurence Fishburne. 

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT begins with the quote: “The lotus is a flower that grows in the mud. The thicker and deeper the mud, the more beautiful the lotus blooms. This thought is expressed in the Buddhist chant: Nam myoho renge kyo.” How do you see this sentiment and Buddhist teachings reflected in Tina Turner’s story onscreen?

-WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT represents real events in the life of legendary singer and entertainer Tina Turner, and takes a brazen look at terrible incidents of domestic violence. Did you know about Tina Turner’s life story before watching this film? Did your impression of her change after seeing the movie?

-Domestic violence thrives in relationships where the abused remains silent, and although Tina Turner has a powerful voice, she is initially unable to use it to free herself from Ike’s abuse. How does Tina Turner transform throughout WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT to a woman who finds her own voice, and is able to liberate herself from her abuser?

-At Tina Turner’s request, WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT includes scenes of her “past life” experiences to justify her prolonged allegiance to Ike Turner, despite his abuse. Does this part of the narrative help to explain Tina Turner’s position better, and understand her sentiments in the titular song WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

-Abandonment is a key theme in WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT for both Ike and Tina Turner. How does this impact the story and the decisions of its lead characters? Does it help explain their motivations?

-What’s your favorite song in WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT, and why do you find it so compelling? —-What qualities does Tina Turner have that sets her apart from other entertainers?

-WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT is the autobiographical story of a Black American female singer, Tina Turner, who is both empowered by ambition and a survivor of abuse. However, the movie is directed by a British, white male filmmaker, and some feminist critics took issue with Touchstone Picture’s decision to hire a director who was not closely aligned with the lead character. Do you think leadership roles in filmmaking should be more diverse, and why is it important?

-How would you rate WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

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