Cher on her career and the Mamma Mia! sequel.
Legendary singer, actor and fashion icon Cher joins the cast of Mamma Mia! for the film’s longawaited sequel. Here, she talks to executive producer RITA WILSON about the power of a fearless stylist, working with her ex-husband and realising her mother was always right
RITA WILSON: Oh my god. I saw the movie.you are hilarious!
CHER: Well, I hope I was there long enough to make some sort of impression.
RW: Oh, yes! And I loved when you posted a picture on Twitter of your sparkling platform boots and everybody went bananas speculating that you were in the film.
C: I think somebody told me I should post some sort of hint.and so I did.
RW: For me — and for millions of people — you are a legend of music, fashion, film, television.to what do you attribute your success, your longevity and your ability to be so versatile as an artist?
C: Luck! It’s so underrated.you can be all kinds of things, but if you don’t have luck, no one will know.
RW: You know what they say about luck? Time just did an article on this, saying we all have our support systems from our families and friends, but luck is what happens when you go outside of your normal support system and you encounter people who are outside of your world. So to be lucky, you have to get outside of your comfort zone.
C: I did that when I was young. I knew what I was gonna do when I was four. By the time I met Sonny, I was just unharnessed energy. And he said, “OK, we need to do something with this.” I didn’t even have confidence. So I’ve just done all of it with luck. My mother said to me when I was very young, “You won’t be the prettiest, you won’t be the most talented, you won’t be the smartest, but you are special.”
RW: What an amazing message for a child to hear.
C: I am dyslexic, so nothing pointed to anything. I was dark and everybody else in my family was light. But my mother kept saying, “you are smart. It’s just not showing, but you are smart.” I can’t see numbers. And my mom would say, “Don’t worry, you’ll have somebody to do that for you.”
RW: That is such a wonderful thing for a mother to recognise in a child. I follow you on Twitter and I love how vocal you are when it comes to politics and [the US]. What would you say to other women about how to be in the world right now? I’ve always been inspired by you because you just don’t — can I say fuck? — you just don’t give a fuck what other people think.
C: Right. I don’t. My sister always said, “You’ve got to watch your language. ”and I went, “Oh, you know what? That ship has sailed.” I don’t think like a woman — I think like a human being. I care about the world, and I have my point of view, and it’s not necessarily right. But I see that there’s a person in the White House and all these people in the government who are kind of crazy. I think women are going to save this country — women and young people.we just have to inspire them and support them. this is one time when the combination of older women and younger people is really going to make the difference.
RW: When you were younger, you were married to Sonny Bono. You separated, then got a divorce. that must have felt like a very scary moment. But you were able to continue working, growing and allowing people to see you in so many different ways as a fully evolved human being.
C: Yeah, but Rita, I met him when I was 16 and left when I was 27. During that period, I didn’t grow as a person — I grew as an entertainer. Sonny and I always got along when we were working. If he came back to this living room right now, we would pick up where we left off because there was something between us. I’m not so sure we should have been husband and wife, but we had a bond that never broke.
RW: I don’t think people realise how difficult it is to be known for one thing and to turn it into something else, like you did when you transitioned from singing to acting in movies like Mask and Silkwood. then you won an Academy Award for Moonstruck!
C: In the beginning, the studio did all these tests [for Moonstruck] and they said, “This movie doesn’t appeal to anybody.”
RW: If a movie stars a woman and is made for a female audience and it’s a success, they’ll say: “It was just a fluke.” Women
“Sonny and I always dressed outlandishly. People thought it was wild, but we were really proud of the way we looked. I got that early: the not caring what people thought. Because, really, who cares?”– CHER
control the majority of consumer spending in our country. And yet we are always getting short shrift on things like movies being made for us. I was thrilled with Girls
Trip last summer because it was like, Oh, thank goodness, this one’s definitely not a fluke. Women can hold audiences. Let’s make more of these types of movies.
C: I’ve watched The Post so many times. When a movie’s really great I will watch it again and again. I kept thinking, My god,
this is the way women used to be treated. They had to go in the other room when the men were talking business. Or women would be in a room and the men would just talk right over them. I remember when women used to introduce themselves by their husband’s first name. Like “I’m Mrs John Treacher.” As if. I mean, as if.
RW: As a young woman, I absolutely loved your style. I still do — the way you dress in your life, and for your shows. All those amazing outfits you wore to the Oscars! We’re missing this kind of risk-taking now. Women dress so politely and tastefully these days. But there was nothing safe about the clothes you wore. How did you find the confidence to dress like that?
C: I just wore whatever [designer and costumer] Bob Mackie made for me. At the Oscars in 1986, when I got to the mic [wearing the notorious feathered headdress] I said, “I did receive my Academy booklet on how to dress like a serious actress.” I had Bob, so all I had to do was stand still and he did the work. I was never embarrassed by anything he gave me to wear. Of course, Sonny and I always dressed outlandishly. People thought it was wild, but we were really proud of the way we looked. I got that early: the not caring what people thought. Because, really, who cares? I liked the dress. I trusted Bob. I had the body to pull it off. I had no boobs. I was straight and not curvy.
RW: Everybody wanted your abs! C: I never had to work for them.
RW: That is just depressing. C: Yeah, well, I have to work my abs off now.
RW: You’ve kept your passion alive over six decades.what drives you?
C: When I get out there, I still have a good time. I also realise that there will eventually come a time when I can’t do it, so I want to enjoy it as long as I can. Also, I can still sing. I’m gonna be like Tony Bennett.
RW: He’s extraordinary. You’re obviously good friends with Meryl [Streep], and now with Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again we’re kind of reuniting you. I worked with Meryl on It’s Complicated.and I remember being in a scene with her and thinking, Oh my god, I’m in a scene with Meryl Streep! C: I’m also a huge fan. RW: Tell us a little bit about your friendship. C: I met her for the first time in a sushi place in Texas when we were working on Silkwood. I walked in, and she came over and hugged me and said, “I’m so glad you’re here.”we were together all the time after that.we used to go to the movies on Sundays.when I was in Newyork, I would go to her house every day.
RW: Over the years, you’ve been honoured for your philanthropy and social activism. Can you tell me a little bit about why you got involved with AIDS research, LGBT rights and the Cher Charitable Foundation?
C: There are so many things that still need to be done. When I was growing up, we were really poor. If we complained, my mom would say,“i complained that I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.” I was so sick of hearing that when I was young. But it made an impression.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is in cinemas July 19; Cher’s Here We Go Again tour will be in Australia September 26–October 20.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Cher’s platform boots. Above: scenes from
Cher and costume designer Bob Mackie at the Met Gala, 1974. Inset, from top: in a Mackie look in 1978; with Sonny in 1966.
Cher in 1971.