‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’ Cast Updates

Can you believe this biopic hit the big screen two decades ago? Catch up with its stars.

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  • images2Fslides2FAngela_Bassett_then_2_1
    Touchstone Pictures

    Angela Bassett, Then  

    Bassett played Tina Turner over the course of her eventful life — from Anna Mae Bullock, a small-town girl with a voice that was out of this world, to her discovery by Ike Turner at a St. Louis, Mo., bar and the formation of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. After a tumultuous relationship filled with domestic abuse, she divorced Ike — taking only her name — and started a successful solo career. What’s Love Got to Do With It was based on the autobiography of Tina’s life: I, Tina, by Tina Turner and Kurt Loder. Bassett won a Golden Globe for her performance.

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    Dave Kotinsky/Stringer/Getty Images Entertainment  

    Angela Bassett, Now

    Bassett has portrayed several notable figures in her career, including Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Betty Shabazz, Katherine Jackson and Voletta Wallace. She was even the voice of Michelle Obama on The Simpsons in 2010. In 2013 she appeared as Secret Service director Lynn Jacobs in Olympus Has Fallen. She has a few upcoming films, including Black Nativity.

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    Touchstone Pictures

    Laurence Fishburne, Then

    Fishburne delivered an iconic performance as Ike Turner, who, at the beginning of the film, is the bandleader for the Kings of Rhythm. After adding Bullock as a lead singer, the group took the rock-and-roll world by storm. However, in the ’70s Ike turned to drugs, physically abused Tina and started making fewer hits. After the film’s release, Turner penned an autobiography, Taking Back My Name, with Nigel Cawthorne.

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    Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment

    Laurence Fishburne, Now

    Fishburne plays Agent Jack Crawford on NBC’s Hannibal, which has just been renewed for a second season. In 2011 he played the title role in the TV adaptation of the Broadway play Thurgood after also performing the role onstage. Fishburne and Bassett have worked together twice since What’s Love: in Akeelah and the Bee and onstage in a production of August Wilson’s Fences.

  • images2Fslides2FJenifer_Lewis_then_2_1
    Touchstone Pictures

    Jenifer Lewis, Then

    Lewis is only two years older than Bassett, but she was nevertheless realistic as Zelma Bullock, who left her daughter Anna Mae to move to “the big city” of St. Louis, Mo., leaving her to live with her grandmother. When Anna moved to St. Louis at age 16 after her grandmother’s death, Zelma made sure to let it be known that she “was the only sinner in the house.”

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    Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment

    Jenifer Lewis, Now

    Lewis has played the mother, auntie or neck-rolling sister of many a young black actor on film or television. In the early 2000s she played Toni Childs’ alcoholic mother on Girlfriends and appeared in Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns TV series. This year she will appear opposite Paula Patton in director David E. Talbert’s Baggage Claim.

  • images2Fslides2FVanessa_Bell_Calloway_then_2_1
    Touchstone Pictures

    Vanessa Bell Calloway, Then  

    Calloway’s Jackie, who did not exist in real life, was an Ikette in the film and quickly became one of Anna Mae’s closest friends. After Ike slapped her in a local diner, she left the band, turned to Buddhism and encouraged Tina to leave Ike. Coincidentally, Calloway had previously appeared in Tina Turner’s music video for “What’s Love Got to Do With It” in 1984.

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    David Livingston/Getty Images

    Vanessa Bell Calloway, Now

    Calloway had a recurring role on Lifetime’s Hawthorne in 2011 and has had a rather steady career on-screen since her time in What’s Love. In 2013 she was a recurring character on Showtime’s Shameless, had a role in the movie The Last Fall and will next appear in the TV movie In the Company of Friends.

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    Khandi Alexander in What's Love Got to Do With It (far left) (Touchstone Pictures)

    Khandi Alexander, Then

    Alexander, a dancer and choreographer, played Darlene, who was an Ikette who caught Ike’s attention. Tina complained to her mother about Ike and his roaming eye for the other women in the band. (In real life, Ike Turner did have a child with an Ikette, Ann Thomas, while he was still married to Tina.) 

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    Getty Images

    Khandi Alexander, Now

    Alexander has had some very hefty roles on-screen since her short appearance in What’s Love. She played Francine “Fran” Boyd, a crack-addicted mother in Baltimore, on HBO’s The Corner, and she also starred in David Simon’s Treme as LaDonna Batiste-Williams.

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    Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, right (Touchstone Pictures)

    Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Then

    Stickney, who had previously appeared in New Jack City, Jungle Fever and Malcolm X, played Alline, Anna Mae’s slightly older sister who their mother took with her to St. Louis. She worked at a local bar, which eventually led to an introduction to Ike Turner and his band. Turner’s real sister died in 2010.

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    John Sciulli/WireImage for BET Network/Getty Images 

    Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Now

    After What’s Love, Stickney had roles in The Inkwell and How Stella Got Her Groove Back (also opposite Bassett) in the ’90s. This year she appeared in a Kenya Moore-directed film, Dolls of Voodoo, with Moore, Miguel A. Nunez and Obba Babatunde.

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    Chi McBride, center, with Reginald Hudlin (left) and Warrington Hudlin (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc./Getty Images)

    Chi McBride, Then

    McBride’s character, Fross, was Ike’s right-hand man. He was there during the good times, when Ike and Tina’s son was born, and during the trying times, when Ike was abusing Tina.

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    Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

    Chi McBride, Now

    McBride has had steady recurring roles on prime-time dramas, including Boston Public, House, Pushing Daisies and Hawthorne. This year he voiced Nick Fury in the Ultimate Spider-Man TV series. 

  • images2Fslides2FPenny_Johnson_then_1
    Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage/Getty Images  

    Penny Johnson, Then

    Lorraine Taylor, played by Johnson, was the mother of two of Ike’s kids: Ike Jr. and Michael. After Taylor left her kids, Tina adopted them and raised them as though they were her own.

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    Angela Weiss/Getty Images

    Penny Johnson, Now

    A nurse on ER and a Trekkie on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Johnson has also had several recurring roles on the tube in the 2000s. For several episodes she portrayed Sherry Palmer on 24. Currently she appears in ABC’s crime drama Castle.

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    Touchstone Pictures

    Rae'Ven Larrymore Kelly, Then

    As little Anna Mae Bullock, Kelly had a strong opening scene in the film. A rambunctious young girl in the choir, she outsang most of the adult members, to her choir director’s dismay. 

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    John M. Heller/FilmMagic/Getty Images

    Rae'Ven Larrymore Kelly, Now

    You’ll remember Kelly more as a child star in films such as A Time to Kill and Ghosts of Mississippi, but she’s done some recent work, too. She appeared in 2010’s Preacher’s Kid, which is loosely based on the parable of the prodigal son.

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    Touchstone Pictures

    Virginia Capers, Then

    Veteran actress Capers had a quick appearance at the beginning of the film as young Anna Mae Bullock’s choir director. In 1974 she won a Tony Award for her performance as Lena Younger in Raisin.

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    Frederick M. Brown/Stringer/Getty Images

    Virginia Capers, Now

    Capers had more than 30 years of acting experience before her short role in What’s Love. You’ll perhaps remember her as Philip Banks’ mother on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Her last on-screen appearance was in the miniseries Kingpin. She died in 2004 in Los Angeles.

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    Barry King/WireImage/Getty Images

    Richard T. Jones, Then

    In the film, Jones’ character, Ike Turner Jr., not only saw his father hit his mother but was also on the receiving end of Ike’s rage. But he still stood by his father at the end of the film, when he walked over to his side of the courtroom during the divorce proceedings. What’s Love was Jones’ first movie role.

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    Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

    Richard T. Jones, Now

    Jones appeared as Gov. Sam Denning in the TV series Hawaii Five-0 from 2011 to 2013. In 2007 he had a recurring role on Girlfriends as Joan’s boyfriend, Aaron. When he’s not onstage, he moonlights as the worst commencement speaker ever. But perhaps he’s best-known for his outrage in the movie The Wood, after Taye Diggs’ character ruined his brand-new Ferragamos.


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    Damon Hines in 1987's Lethal Weapon (Warner Bros.)

    Damon Hines, Then

    Hines, a former child actor, played Ronnie Turner, Ike and Tina’s only son together. 

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    Damon Hines, Now

    In 2012 he appeared in an episode of Happy Endings. He currently teaches at several Los Angeles colleges, including Saddleback College, Los Angeles City College and Loyola Marymount University.

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