“She’s your basic monster alcoholic mother,” declared Kathleen Turner during our recent webcam chat (watch above) about her role on “The Path,” the Hulu drama series about a controversial faith-based cult. The Oscar-nominee guests as Brenda, the estranged mother of the movement’s unofficial leader, Cal Roberts (Hugh Dancy). After years apart, he returns to find her living in squalor, barely able to take care of herself.
Turner, known for her elegant beauty in such films as “Prizzi’s Honor” (1985) and “The Accidental Tourist” (1988), relished the opportunity to play an unkempt character. “They wouldn’t let me have any makeup,” she recalls of her first day on set. “They took this fake grease and ran their fingers through my hair. It was just delightful.” Her apartment was equally disheveled. “Every surface is covered with almost empty booze bottle, and over-flowing ashtrays, and strange stains on the walls.”
The audience learns that Cal’s father took him away from home at an early age to join the movement, leaving his mother behind. The father eventually returned, but the son did not. “This gives her ammunition,” she explains, “to say, ‘See, I told you. That life is not the one for you. Stay with me.’” Yet there’s an undercurrent of sadness in her attacks. “I don’t think she drove them away so much as the father made the choice to go pursue the path, and came to regret it, which convinces her that Cal will as well.”
Turner also touched upon her long career in film, from her debut as a crafty seductress in “Body Heat” (1981), to her Oscar-nominated turn as a housewife who travels back in time to her teenage years in “Peggy Sue Got Married” (1986). The actress had some sharp words for Hollywood, saying, “They’re very mistrustful of strong women in many ways, and that’s reflected in the material that is produced.” She’s found great success on stage as of late, receiving Tony nominations for revivals of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” “There are wonderful, strong, interesting female characters in theatre,” she raves, “that simply are not written for camerawork.”
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