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Angela Bassett pays tribute to Tina Turner: 'I am humbled to have helped show her to the world'

Angela Bassett is paying tribute to the woman she's been most linked to in her career: the legendary Tina Turner, who died at the age of 83. Bassett memorably portrayed the singer in What's Love Got to Do With It, the Oscar-nominated 1993 film based on Turner's 1986 autobiography, I, Tina.

"How do we say farewell to a woman who owned her pain and trauma and used it as a means to help change the world?" Bassett said in a statement. "Through her courage in telling her story, her commitment to stay the course in her life, no matter the sacrifice, and her determination to carve out a space in rock & roll for herself and for others who look like her, Tina Turner showed others who lived in fear what a beautiful future filled with love, compassion, and freedom should look like."

WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT, from left: Tina Turner, Angela Bassett on the recording studio set, rehearse a song performance, 1993. ph: D Stevens / © Buena Vista Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection
WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT, from left: Tina Turner, Angela Bassett on the recording studio set, rehearse a song performance, 1993. ph: D Stevens / © Buena Vista Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

D Stevens/Buena Vista Pictures/Everett Tina Turner and Angela Bassett on the set of 1993's 'What's Love Got to Do With It'

Bassett landed the role of a lifetime only a month before production of the movie began, and had mere weeks to learn how to move and talk like the rock icon — though Turner did work a bit with Bassett to help recreate some of her most famous dance sequences.

Bassett's performance was hailed by critics and audiences alike, and earned her a Best Actress Oscar nomination. However, Turner did not watch What's Love Got to Do With It for years, and said when she did she couldn't make it to the end.

"I watched a little bit of it, but I didn't finish it because that was not how things went… I didn't realize they would change the details so much," Turner told Oprah Winfrey in 2018, noting that Broadway's Tina: The Tina Turner Musical depicted "how things actually were."

The singer may have had issues with the movie, but she had nothing but praise for its leading lady. For Bassett's inclusion on Time's 100 Most Influential People list this year, Turner recalled being "skeptical" about the biopic until meeting the actress.

"'She's perfect,' I said, and I was right. You never mimicked me. Instead, you reached deep into your soul, found your inner Tina, and showed her to the world," Turner said. "You honor all the women you play, just as you honored me."

The feeling was mutual. "I shall hold these words close to my heart for the rest of my days," Bassett said of Turner's Time dedication in her statement. "I am honored to have known Tina Turner. I am humbled to have helped show her to the world."

Bassett concluded, "So on today, while we mourn the loss of this iconic voice and presence, she gave us more than we could have ever asked. She gave us her whole self. And Tina Turner is a gift that will always be 'simply the best.' Angels, sing thee to thy rest… Queen."

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