A Belfast actor who was hand-picked by Tina Turner to play her German husband in the West End musical about her life, has described her swansong documentary as “incredibly inspiring”.
Music legend Turner tells her life story in a new, warts-and-all film that premiered on HBO at the weekend and has already been watched by millions of viewers across the globe.
The hard-hitting, two-hour documentary, Tina, is being billed as the singer’s final farewell to her fans, as she bows out of the spotlight after a megastar career that spanned over six decades.
Gerard McCarthy, who portrayed her second husband, music executive Erwin Bach, in the West End musical Tina, said being chosen personally by Turner was the proudest moment of his career.
And he said that the “heartbreaking” documentary, which details the abuse she endured during her first marriage to singer Ike Turner, was a “tough but important” watch.
Former Hollyoaks star McCarthy, who landed the role of Bach in the stage show in 2018 and played it for a year, said: “When I started in the musical, I watched the film What’s Love Got To Do With It?, about Tina Turner’s life.
“Even though Tina herself was with us the whole way through the process, it was a work project for us, so we were focused on the production, the lights, costumes and wigs. In a way, the story itself got lost.
“Watching the documentary brought home to me just how much she has been through in her life. Having worked with her and having spent a lot of time with Erwin, it was heartbreaking hearing her tell her story in her own words.
“There’s no gloss, no showbiz, no big dance routines; just her words and it’s a hard watch. But it is also incredibly inspiring. She’s an amazing woman who has inspired so many others to walk away from abusive relationships. She said ‘enough is enough’ and had the courage to leave and start all over again.”
When McCarthy auditioned for the role of Bach, he was told that Turner, who was recovering from surgery at the time, watched all the performance tapes so she could choose the cast herself.
Although blond haired, unlike Bach, it was McCarthy who stood out for her and was offered the part.
“To be given her seal of approval was unbelievable,” he said. “It was the proudest moment of my career.
“I spent a lot of time with Erwin and he’s an amazing man. Tina herself has said that she never felt really loved until she met him, so to be playing him on stage was such an honour.”
McCarthy, who played opposite Adrienne Warren as Tina in the musical, recalled the moment the Simply The Best star walked into the rehearsal room.
“I was pretty nervous, to be honest,” he said. “I thought I’d be really starstruck. But she was so normal and down to earth.
“There was no entourage, no diva behaviour and no hierarchy at all. She was so warm and friendly and even sat among the audience, unnoticed, in previews.
“I just think it’s amazing that she went through so much heartache and abuse but started from scratch again in her 40s. She launched her solo career, told her then manager that she wanted to sell out stadiums like The Rolling Stones or Rod Stewart and made it happen.
“As far as I’m concerned, she’s a real pop legend, a superstar; up there with Elvis or Michael Jackson. She’s also the true essence of the #metoo movement, speaking out publicly about abuse and giving other women the courage to leave.”