At 57, Cher is an abundance of energy, this time dividing her time between a farewell concert tour and promoting her latest movie, the Farrelly Brothers’ Stuck on You. It’s simply hard to imagine what it must be like being Cher, and this legendary performer isn’t about to give too much away.
As we sit in a New York hotel room, Cher laughs at the idea that in Stuck on You she gets to play an exaggerated version of herself, or rather of some kind of image, which she sends up to delightful comic effect. I loved the Farrelly Brothers’ work”, she explains when asked if there was any arm twisting involved in getting to co-star in the outrageous brothers’ latest film, but laughingly admits that she didn’t think she’d be playing herself in the comedy about Siamese Twins.
“They didn’t twist my arm, but just lied to me. The script just said ‘actress’. Then later they said it would be much better if you could play yourself. Once we got there and started doing it we decided to do everything we could do,” which included Cher’s much publicized obsession with dating younger men. The scene that gets the biggest laugh is one featuring Cher in bed with a half-naked Frankie Muniz. “Actually, he’s very funny because he took off his t-shirt and said, I’ve been doing push ups so I’m pumped up, so we got along famously after that.”
Cher even managed to have some input into the way her exaggerated ;persona was explored in the film. “I think that one of the big things that they did for me was let me rewrite some of the things because I said, I said ‘Look, I have such a special way of speaking and you can’t just like completely tie me down to the script because some of the words are not words I would use, even with my evil twin, Cher’ , so they were great about that.”
But what is exactly is that Cher persona one hears about? While she happily dismisses her affection for younger men, she becomes angry when reminded that a misconception about Cher is her diva image. Which she asserts “is just ridiculous. I don’t like it but it makes me laugh. If I didn’t think it was so full of shit, I’d laugh.” When it comes to reflecting on her own fan base and icon status, Cher prefers not to give such matters serious thought. “You know what? Every night I walk out on stage, and there are like 20,000 people screaming and yelling, I always think, ‘Who are they coming to see? What are they doing here?’ I actually tell them it sometimes.”
Perhaps for that reason, Cher’s current farewell tour is definitely her last. She is adamant that enough is enough. “I feel like the only way I can explain it to you is like Michael Jordan. At some point you have to stop and it’s better to stop when you’re doing a really good job, and if you come back I’m not sure that you’re ever as good and people go: Oh, the last show was so much better. So I just don’t want to do it,” Cher says, emphatically. “I think you should stop while you’re still doing it really well and I’m doing it really well.”
Cher adds that she hopes post-touring; there will be “a million other things” after music for Cher to focus her abundant energies on. “Firstly, there is this movie I want to direct and I want to do another movie called In the Pink, and I’d love to sing old standards at Carnegie Hall. Just because I’ve done certain things, doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain things that are on my wish list,” Cher says, half smilingly. What she won’t do is write her memoirs, at least “not until everyone’s dead”.
Nor does she have interest in looking back on career, defined by a career that includes roles in some 20 films, and over 30 albums. “I don’t really much care to look back, nor do I look or listen to anything. By the time I finish an album, I’ve worked on it for, I’ve heard every song like a zillion times and don’t particularly like the sound of my voice anyway,” comes a surprising admission. “So I like to sing, I just don’t want to listen to it and with movies, sometimes I see them once and never look at them again, and sometimes I see them in a couple of years.” Yet she does admit to at least having a favourite song. “I really like Believe. I always have a great time, maybe because it’s at the end of a show, but I never get tired of singing it.”
Cher says that in terms of her own self-reflection, she adopts a philosophical attitude towards what has been an astonishing career. “My career has had unbelievable highs and unbelievable lows, so I know not to take any of it really seriously.” She laughingly adds that her greatest achievement is “that I’m still here.”
Cher says that she has only one piece of advice to give young people who aspire to step into her shoes. “The only thing I can tell them is: Don’t pay any attention to what anyone says.” That sounds like advice she has followed for most of her career.