The legendary musician and occasional actor Tina Turner passed away this week aged 83. Behind her, the “Queen of Rock ’n’ Roll” left a prolific catalogue of timeless music and several prominent big-screen performances. One of her most memorable movie roles was that of Aunty Entity in George Miller’s 1985 classic Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.
In a new interview feature with The Guardian, the Australian director George Miller discussed his late friend and Mad Max collaborator. “When we made Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, I knew her music like everyone else, but it was her persona that drew me to her – particularly for the role [of Aunty Entity]. I knew where the music came from, where her power came from,” Miller recalled.
“In this Mad Max wasteland, anyone who survives, let alone becomes a dominant force, has had to survive a lot of things that would normally diminish a person. Every time we talked about Aunty Entity as we were writing, we’d say, ‘Oh, someone like Tina Turner.’ She was the only person we could think of. And sure enough, she was the only person we ever asked.”
Miller then gave an honest assessment of Turner’s true nature, remembering her non-Diva qualities. “She was the opposite of a diva,” Miller opined. “I had the privilege of working with her and getting to see just what made her so magnificent. She was so sharp, mentally. She was acutely aware of the dynamics of every situation. She was very funny and playful, she loved to laugh a lot. She was a person of real substance. It wasn’t just the surface. I think that rises out of someone who endures so much in early life and uses it to become incredibly wise.”
“She performed most of her life, in one way or another,” he continued. “It is relatively rare that someone can go through that process and remain pretty much intact, even grow in stature. I think she had that stature innately from birth. I once saw her at a 50th birthday party, Mick Jagger and all of those types gathered around her, behaving as if she was this great regal presence in court. I am noticing the way people are talking about her today, about how influential and generous she was. They all learned from her.
“And I learned from her. When we worked together, I could tell she got something out of learning about acting. But I was learning from her too – first of all, just doing the hard work. And second of all, how to inspire those around you to work together for a common goal. I think she knew it too; she once told me: ‘You’d learn a lot if you came on tour with us for a week or two.’ I was so tempted to do it, but I was caught up with finishing the film. I have always regretted not going with her.”
Watch Tina Turner in a clip from Mad Max: Thunderdome below.