Fact vs Fiction: 14 Dramatized Parts of ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’

What's Love Got to Do With It fact fiction

From the moment “What’s Love Got to Do with It” begins, it weaves together a tapestry of fact and fiction, bringing to life the extraordinary story of Tina Turner. Loosely based on her autobiography, “I, Tina,” the film takes certain artistic liberties to enhance its dramatic impact. The result is a powerful and engaging portrayal of Tina Turner’s rise to stardom, her tumultuous relationship with Ike Turner, and her ultimate journey towards independence and self-discovery.

READ: Rest in Peace Tina Turner: The Legendary Legendary Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll Died at 83

The casting process for the role of Tina Turner was highly competitive, with numerous talented actresses vying for the part. Angela Bassett eventually secured the coveted role, but notable names such as Halle Berry, Robin Givens, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and Vanessa L. Williams were also considered. Whitney Houston, in fact, was initially offered the lead role but had to decline due to her pregnancy with Bobbi Kristina. Jenifer Lewis, who auditioned for the role of Tina, ended up portraying Tina’s mother in the film despite being only two years older than Angela Bassett.

Laurence Fishburne, a respected actor in his own right, turned down the role of Ike Turner multiple times before reconsidering when he learned that Angela Bassett would be playing Tina. The late Charlie Murphy, known for his comedic prowess, also auditioned for the role of Ike. While Angela Bassett did not perform Tina Turner’s songs herself, Laurence Fishburne lent his voice to sing Ike Turner’s parts in the film.

It is crucial to recognize that “What’s Love Got to Do with It” blends elements of fiction and reality to craft its narrative. While the film expertly captures the essence of Tina Turner’s remarkable journey, it is important to distinguish between the fictionalized elements created for dramatic effect and the true events that shaped the lives of Tina and Ike Turner. This blending of fact and fiction adds depth to the storytelling, resulting in a captivating portrayal of their lives and the challenges they encountered along the way.



What's Love Got to Do With It fact fiction

The incident in the Ritz Theatre where Ike fails to scare Tina with his pistol is a fabrication. While Ike allegedly made threats to hire a hitman, Tina did carry a pistol for self-defense. However, there was no personal confrontation involving a gun as depicted in the film.


Ike did not sing or play guitar on the record “Rocket 88” as depicted in the film. The song was written by Ike, who played the piano on the recording. The vocals were performed by his saxophonist Jackie Brenston, with the record released under the name Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats. Notably, the Delta Cats were actually Ike’s band, the Kings of Rhythm.



What's Love Got to Do With It fact fiction

In the film, Anna Mae learns of her name change to Tina Turner after her song is played on a radio in the hospital where she had given birth. However, in reality, Ike & Tina Turner’s debut single “A Fool In Love” was released in August 1960, several months prior to the birth of their son.


In real life, Ike did not refer to Tina as Anna Mae; instead, he called her either Ann or “Bo,” which was short for her surname Bullock. Even after adopting the stage name Tina Turner, her family and close friends continued to address her as Ann.





What's Love Got to Do With It fact fiction

The infamous “eat the cake Anna Mae” scene in the film is an exaggerated reenactment of an incident that occurred during the early years of their revue. Tina Turner recalled a moment when they stopped to order food, and someone brought her a pound cake while they were sitting in a car. Although Tina claimed she did not order it, Ike ordered her to eat the entire cake while he watched. This scene serves as a metaphorical representation of the control and dominance Ike exerted over Tina during their tumultuous relationship.


The film depicts Tina’s suicide attempt in 1974 when, in reality, it occurred six years earlier in 1968. This significant difference in timing showcases the creative liberties taken by the filmmakers to condense and intensify the narrative.




What's Love Got to Do With It fact fiction

Jackie and Fross, characters featured in the film, are both fictional. Jackie represents a composite character inspired by the Ikettes and associates of Tina. One of these inspirations was Ike’s friend Valerie Bishop, who introduced Tina to Buddhism in 1973.


Ike did not tell Tina “if you don’t make it, I’ll kill you” as depicted in the ambulance scene. Tina, who was unconscious during the incident, later joked with a friend that she survived because she was so afraid of Ike’s threats. In his book, Ike stated that he scolded Tina as a way of motivating her to fight for her life, emphasizing a different perspective on the event.



What's Love Got to Do With It fact fiction

The film implies that Tina’s eldest child, Craig Raymond, is Ike’s biological son. In reality, his biological father was saxophonist Raymond Hill, and Ike later adopted him. Tina and Ike have one biological child together, Ronald “Ronnie” Renelle, born in 1960.


Lorraine Taylor did not drop off Ike’s sons, Ike Junior and Michael, at his home with Tina, as shown in the film. In reality, Ike traveled to St. Louis to bring his sons to Los Angeles after Lorraine informed him that she intended to leave them there. Tina, in turn, also brought her son Craig to live with them.


What's Love Got to Do With It fact fiction

The scene where Tina was raped during the recording of “Nutbush City Limits” in the film is an exaggeration of what she stated in her book. Tina claimed that sometimes after Ike would physically abuse her, he would then have sexual relations with her. However, Ike maintained that he never raped Tina. It’s important to note that “Nutbush City Limits” was actually recorded at their Bolic Sound recording studio, not at their home as portrayed in the film.


Anna Mae and Ike did not have sex the night his live-in girlfriend Lorraine Taylor shot herself, as depicted in the film. The true incident occurred when Anna Mae was pregnant in 1958. Lorraine, believing that Anna Mae and Ike were having an affair, pulled a gun on her before shooting herself. Prior to this tragic event, Anna Mae and Ike maintained a platonic friendship until 1960 when she sought refuge in his bed after feeling threatened by a musician.



The film depicts Ike and his entourage sneaking Tina out of the hospital after she gave birth in order to get married. However, in reality, Ike was not present for the birth of their son Ronnie. Tina’s departure from the hospital led to a shocking discovery: the woman Ike hired as a replacement while she recovered was a sex worker using Tina Turner’s stage name to attract clients. A confrontation and subsequent fight between Tina and the woman occurred before Tina took the stage to perform that very night. The couple got married in 1962, two years after the birth of their son.


The film concludes with a title card stating that Tina’s first solo album won four Grammy Awards, suggesting it was “Private Dancer.” However, “Private Dancer” was actually her fifth solo album. Her first two solo albums, “Tina Turns the Country On!” and “Acid Queen,” were released while she was still with Ike, and two more solo albums, “Rough” and “Love Explosion,” followed.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: