For the big screen musical Burlesque, Academy Award-winning megastar Cher ended a seven-year hiatus to take on the role of Tess, the glamorous proprietor of the dazzling Burlesque Lounge. When Ali (Christina Aguilera), a small-town girl pursuing her dreams to be a star, stumbles across the inspired musical revue, she becomes determined to prove she’s meant to be on that stage. As Ali comes into her own as a performer, Tess sees an opportunity to make use of her spectacular voice and showmanship in a way that will benefit not only both women, but the club itself.
At the film’s press day, Cher talked about maintaining a successful 45-year career in the entertainment business, working with someone as talented as Christina Aguilera and revealed that she enjoyed making Burlesque so much that she would like to do another film in the future. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
How do you look so beautiful, at every age? What’s your secret?
CHER: No way! There’s a team of five dozen people, and it takes them two hours. That’s the truth.
How hard was it for you to decide to do this film?
CHER: Once we started, I was totally there, but it was hard getting there. There was a lot of transitional time to have the character get to the place where you see her on screen. But, once I was there, I was always fabulous.
Why wait so long to make another movie, and what was it about this one?
CHER: You don’t get many offers that you want to do. You get lots of scripts, but you don’t get things you want to do, and the only thing that I’ve missed that I wanted to do was Mamma Mia. I wanted to have the chance to work with Meryl [Streep] again, but I was on the road, so I couldn’t do it.
Do you have to try to put people at ease when they first meet you, since they are all initially so starstruck?
CHER: I was doing an interview with someone who has interviewed everyone and I was nervous about him because of who he writes for, but he was nervous to talk to me. I said, “This is silliness. Don’t be ridiculous. Let’s get this thing together.” But, because I’ve been doing this for 45 years, my personality is my personality and, once someone spends time with me, you feel fine. I’m not doing anything. I can’t even imagine what it would be that someone would expect me to do that would be frightening or menacing.
What did Christina Aguilera bring to your life, from working with her on this? Are you guys friends now?
CHER: Yeah. She reminded me of the relationship that I had with Meryl Streep [on Silkwood], when Meryl took me under her wing. The truth was that I didn’t have any idea where to stand, not that I know where to stand now. I just learned what downstage and upstage is. But, Christina worked so hard. She overcame a lot. She came on the set with us, and that’s a little bit nerve-wracking when you’ve done nothing in film. I tried to put her at ease. As time went by, she felt a lot more comfortable.
Don’t many movie casts become like family, looking out for one another?
CHER: On a film, you welcome relatives, or wives or husbands or whatever, for a visit, but everything so depends upon the person that you’re working with that everyone else is an outsider except the people that you are depending on. It’s a false sense of family, in a way. On the road, because it’s a longer period of time, you really get to know the people. You really have a chance to do that. But, this was instant because you’re in this together. You develop a real shorthand as to who you like, who you just have to be friends with and who you don’t like, but you still have to work with.
Your big ballad in the film, “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” was an amazing performance that must have come from deep in your soul. Did that mean something special to you?
CHER: First of all, Diane Warren wrote it. She’s been my friend for a long time. She wrote “If I Could Turn Back Time.” There were two songs in my life that I didn’t think I was going to be able to sing, and that was one of them. The other one was “Song for the Lonely.” It was so high for me that I truly didn’t have those notes. There were three notes and I didn’t have them in my range, and I really don’t know where they came from. I was more surprised than anybody. But, the song was so good and I thought doing it was so perfect for the character. She wrote it for that moment in time.
Was there something about the words that you could identify with, on a personal level?
CHER: Yes. When I started this character, I thought, “This is hard, to play supporting to this girl and know that this is what’s potentially happening in my life. I have to move over,” not that I’m doing it gracefully. You’d have to pull me over. So, yeah, that song, had a lot of meaning for me. I’m old and there was too much truth in this film for me, a couple of times, so that song was really meaningful. It was not exactly my life, but it was my life in that movie.
In your recent Vanity Fair interview, you talked about how tough your fame was for your kids. Is that one of the prices you have to pay for being one of the most famous women in the world?
CHER: It was a price that my kids definitely paid, but any time you are a parent and a worker in our business, where you might have to leave your kids or drag them with you, you never feel like you’re doing it well enough. I think every working mother knows that feeling. I just think, in my job, it makes it worse. I remember one day going with Chas to Olvera Street on a field trip and all these people were coming up and she said, “Can’t we ever go any place without Cher, Cher, Cher?” On the other hand, we’d go to the head of the line at Disneyland, which nobody complained about, but I’m sure I wasn’t the best mother in the world because of that and because of my schedule. Sonny [Bono] was a good father, though, so that was a help.
Your Las Vegas run ends in February.
CHER: Yes, and then I’m finished with that.
You don’t want to go on a big tour anymore?
CHER: There’s the opportunity to go on a tour, and yet I’m not so sure that that’s something I want to do immediately because I’ve been working for a long time. I did like working on this film so much that I really would like to do another film. I’m never going to do a lot of films.
Did you make the decision to walk away from films?
CHER: No, it doesn’t work like that. Whatever is in front of you is the thing you do. If there had been great movies, I would have done those. But, the only movie I didn’t get to do, that I wanted to do, was Mamma Mia, and that was a pain in the ass.
After all these years, what were your emotions, in finding yourself on a soundstage again?
CHER: I was terrified. That’s the way I roll. You go scene by scene, but I knew everything worked with Stanley [Tucci] and with Peter [Gallagher]. Peter and I had a great relationship, which wasn’t on the paper. He and I changed that relationship completely. We were very adversarial on the page, but then we started to work and it didn’t come out that way. We didn’t even try, and nobody said anything. He was more upset and less cranky with me. We had this relationship that just started being funny, at one point, and that’s what we decided to go with.
What is the secret to your longevity in this business?
CHER: I haven’t got a clue. I think it’s luck. I really do think it’s luck.
Burlesque opens November 24th. You can watch 8 clips from the movie here.