In the movie Burlesque, Cher, who begins her comeback as the owner of the title dance club, and Stanley Tucci play best friends who have known each other for years. Their chemistry is fantastic and their relationship is one of the strongest in the entire film. The big secret? They hadn’t ever met each other before the first lead through
Sitting in on a roundtable with the two performers, one an Oscar winner, the other an Oscar nominee, they discussed what it was like working with newcomer Christina Aguilera, the ubiquity of criticism in the internet age and how they become fast friends after watching a metaphorical train-wreck. Check out my interview with Cher and Stanley Tucci below.
Are you guys aware of people walking on set and looking up to you and admiring you?
Cher: Well, I am but he’s not [laughs].
Stanley Tucci: Usually they just walk past me.
C: It was [Christina Aguilera’s] first time on set, she was nervous but she held herself well. I would be frightened too to walk on a set where you’re starring in a movie and you don’t know the people and you don’t know what to expect and I think she did a great job not being so nervous that it kind of diminished her performance.
Cher, why has it been so long since you last starred in a movie?
C: I forgot [laughs]. Nothing came to me that I liked except a part in Mamma Mia, which I was on the road and couldn’t do and other than that, there’s a movie with Johnny Knoxville that I’m really interested to do called The Drop Out. It’s very dumb, it’s very fourteen-year-old boy humor. I love it. Anyway, that’s something that he and I have talked about, but I’ve been busy – it’s not like I’ve been a shut in – but I forgot that I really enjoyed this. I forgot that I liked acting so much because when you don’t do it and you kind of forget.
When coming back do you feel rusty?
C: For a minute. I don’t know if it’s rusty. We were talking about this the other day; I’m always terrified the first day. Mike Nichols says he throws away the first day of filming.
Because everyone is just so on edge?
ST: You’re feeling each other out, you’re feeing your character out…you never quite know what’s going to happen and it’s always the first day – it’s like the first day of school.
C: Right – and none of us new each other.
Did you two spend anytime together before filming to develop your rapport?
C: We just had a read through that was a disaster [laughs]. We became kind of friends by us texting each other going “This is a disaster.”
ST: That was kind of it. The read-through went on – it was so long.
ST: It’s actually still going on [laughs]. We left.
C: What was the D.W. Griffith movie? Birth of a Nation? It was longer than Birth of a Nation [laughs].
How do you prepare for your relationship then? Because I never would have guessed that you just met on set.
ST: You just have to pray that you’re going to get along with that person and that sort of alchemy is going to happen. And you’re going to take that relationship that is on the screen and just make it richer and richer and richer and richer.
C: You can’t prepare for that. You really can’t prepare for that because that either happens or it doesn’t. Stanley and I were talking yesterday and we were talking about what it would be like. I’ve worked with directors that I don’t like, but I haven’t worked with any actors that I hated and I was thinking about Debra Winger and Richard Gere – I don’t think I would have been able to do that.
ST: Was that true? Did they really hate each other?
C: He hated her. But I don’t think I could do that. I wouldn’t know how – it would be awful for me. It would be really terrible because I really rely on the other actors, maybe too much, but I really need to feel that kind of safety. He and I didn’t know each other and we met one time and then the next time we met we were working.
ST: We were playing best friends.
If people love this or hate this movie, does it roll off your back at this point?
C: No, no. It still affects you. It still affects me, I don’t think it affects you [to Stanley Tucci]. Do you care?
ST: Yeah, I care.
C: As much as I do?
ST: I don’t know the extent of your caring [laughs].
On the internet, someone anywhere will trash anyone mercilessly. Do you ever read that kind of stuff?
C: No. I mean, I’m sure I’m trashed a lot. Yeah, I’m sure I’m trashed a lot.
ST: The thing is, everyone’s a critic – literally everyone now – everyone’s a critic. Start a blog and whatever, I’m a critic for blah blah blah. And then it just becomes a lot of sniping. It’s not really about informed criticism or educated criticism. It’s just “I think he’s ugly.” What the fuck is that? What are you doing? So I think that informed criticism is a thing that’s kind of lacking in society.
Stanley, at any point was there a possibility of you doing a musical number?
C: Never! He can’t sing and he said he can dance, but I’ve danced with him [laughs].
ST: No, no. It was not in the script, there wasn’t even a suggestion of it and I was glad. I’m really not a singer.
Well, Alan Cummings barely sings and dances in his number.
ST: Well, here’s the thing. Alan had more in there that was cut down. Alan really is an incredible singer. I actually just saw him perform down in Dallas for this charity thing that I go down there for every year and he was unbelievable. Unbelievable. He’s so talented. He has this amazing voice and he’s really funny, does this sort-of stand-up patter throughout and it’s really raunchy.
C: I didn’t have any scenes with him, so I don’t know. Even though he’s a really great actor, I had no…
ST: He’s a real song and dance man, too.
C: And you’re just not.
ST: And I’m just not.