“Reel It Back” is Shadow and Act series where we sit down with your favorite actors and actresses as they reflect on and react to memorable scenes and roles from their storied careers.
Angela Bassett is one of the most iconic actors in the business. From Hollywood to Broadway, the Yale School of Drama double alum has graced every stage and transformed herself into legends like Tina Turner, Betty Shabazz, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks and more. Her latest iconic role is in the new Transformers movie Bumblebee where she plays the first ever female decepticon, Shatter. Just before Bumblebee hit theaters, Shadow And Act caught up with Bassett to play a game of Reel It Back. From What’s Love Got To Do With It to How Stella Got Her Groove Back, here’s how she reacted to watching clips of herself in some fan-favorite roles:
“Look, I’m getting teary-eyed,” Bassett says after watching herself as Voodoo queen Marie Laveau in American Horror Story. “That was so much fun.”
Another fun role for her was playing Stella and filming in Jamaica for the movie adaptation of Terry McMillan’s popular book How Stella Got Her Groove Back, with the “beautiful specimen of a man in Taye Diggs,” as her co-star.
Perhaps her most memed role was Bernadine Harris, whose husband leaves her for a white woman in Waiting to Exhale. As Bassett watches Bernie pulling her husbands designer clothes and shoes out of his closet, stuffing them into her children’s wagon, dragging them down to her husbands Benz and setting everything on fire, she says, “Ooo, those flames were hot! I was trying to look cool with that cigarette, walking away, but I was glad to walk away.” She says, “that was real fire.”
Originally, McMillan wanted her to play the starring role Whitney Houston ended up playing and Bassett said, “No, I want to sell everything for a dollar,” like Bernie does as revenge against her cheating husband.
Of her role as Tina Turner in What’s Love Got To Do With It, she recalls working 16- to 17-hour days and working 30 days just to prepare for filming. But she still fondly remembers Turner being on set on their last day of filming, doing Bassett’s make-up for her. “She was so used to doing her own hair, her own make-up, her own wardrobe, getting it out and getting it done.”
Of all of her roles, there was one she says took her months to shake:
“It took a few months for her laughter, the way she talked, the way she moved her head,” Bassett says of the difficulty of shaking off the Tina Turner role. “Because you sleep it and live it and sing it,” she says. “Then to just let it go, like one day it’s the last day on set and you’re just like, ‘Huh? What do I do now!’ So, it’s not that easy.”
As for her favorite role to play, she says:
“All my children are my favorites…in their own way.”