Written by Sheila Roberts Thursday, 23 December 2010 07:13
Singer, songwriter, performer, producer, director and actress —is there anything Christina Aguilera hasn’t done? One of the most accomplished performers of the last decade, she has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, achieved four #1 singles on the Billboard hot 100 chart, and has won five Grammy Awards, as well as three top five albums in the United States. Aguilera is also the only artist under 30 to make Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 100 greatest singers of all time.
In writer/director Steven Antin’s finger-snapping, eye-popping and atmospheric musical Burlesque a time-honored tale of showbiz aspirations fulfilled – and the hallmarks of a classic form of live entertainment – get a dazzling, fun movie makeover. For Ali (Christina Aguilera), a small-town girl with a big voice, there had to be somewhere her dreams could be fulfilled, rather than remain an empty goal. Enter the world of burlesque…
What was it about Burlesque that made you want to say yes to the world of film?
There have been a lot of roles and scripts that have come my way but nothing that really inspired me or intrigued me like when Burlesque showed up at my door. Just the whole concept of burlesque, I’ve always been fascinated with it. I’ve always collected so many books about burlesque. I’ve been intrigued by the time that it’s set in, in the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and so I knew it was a no brainer for me to be a part of once I met with the team.
There’s obviously quite a cinematic element to a lot of your music videos; does any of that help prepare for a film like this?
No. (Laughs) No, it doesn’t actually. Yes, I’ve been around the block with it before but doing a movie and doing this kind of a movie is a whole different animal. I completely had to throw away everything I knew about anything and approach doing this movie with an open heart, being truly vulnerable, truly naïve as my character is, and open myself up as a newcomer in a whole new way for everything that I did on this movie.
What was the experience like playing opposite Cher?
Unbelievable! I left that movie a completely changed, different person for so many reasons but a lot of it did have to do with Cher and what I learned from her – just on all counts – as a person, both personally and professionally, the way she has such a tranquil, calm, loving energy when she enters a room but still is such a presence, the way she works, the way she allows herself the freedom to throw the dialogue out the window and just go on a tangent and let things feel real and natural in front of the camera gave me priceless information that I’ll cherish forever but yeah, she’s just one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.
Is there a prejudice against people making it from one area of show business to another?
No one was saying I can’t do that. I knew that there are many people that make the transition and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Cher is the perfect example of someone that it does work with. I’ve always been inspired even more by any naysayers to keep going for what I really want and they’ve almost been my inspiration many times more so than any positive people around me to conquer. But yeah, you have your reservations and your fears, but like Ali does, she just kicks in the door, doesn’t take no for an answer and goes for it.
How do you balance motherhood with your personal life, movies and singing?
It’s a juggling act. It’s really hard. Today he actually has a little fever and he’s a little sick and it just breaks my heart I can’t be with him. But I think one day he’ll be able to look back at my body of work and feel proud of it and hopefully it’ll motivate him to then be an individual himself and really go for what he wants out of life.
What was the biggest thing you learned about acting from this experience?
The biggest lesson learned? Oh, so many! How to stay focused and keep every moment as real as possible when you have to go in and repeat it over and over, especially for a crying scene. It’s really hard to find the motivation over and over again to create those tears. I found it very dark and depressing on those days because I had to revert back to memories that weren’t so nice from my childhood and really go there and feel them in a way that I don’t care to feel on a daily basis.
Can we expect to see you doing more films?
Yeah, I look forward to doing more films. Yes. One thing at a time, but over the holidays I’m actually looking forward to reading the scripts that have been coming in and figuring out what the next plan of action is.
You have a unique singing style. Was there ever a time when somebody said “Maybe we can change that and make that a little bit different”?
Yeah, for sure. When I got my first record deal, I was 17 years old. There was a big pop explosion going on at the time and there was a specific sound on the radio and it definitely wasn’t an Etta James style of singing or an old soul, bluesy style which is what I’m inspired by first and foremost at the heart and at the root of what I do. So I went in to get my record deal. I landed it, but then when I started recording my record, Ron Fair was actually like “We need to tone you down. There’s too many ad libs. There’s too much riffing. You sound too powerful. It’s just too much.” I’m sitting there about to cry like this is just the way I sing and it was definitely a turning point for me or not a great moment for me just because it was really hard. That was just the way I sang. That was my voice. And years later, he actually called me and apologized because he said “I just watched your biography and I was looking at old footage of you when you were like 7 or 8 years old and you still had that voice and you were still ad libbing like that and sounding the way you did when you were 17. I always thought you were just putting on a show for me extra because you’d just got a record deal and you were trying to do too much. That’s just the way you sang. I’m sorry. (Laughs)
You mentioned you had a great experience with Cher; is there anything particular that stands out?
Well, one thing that she said that was really, really funny that’s her own quote is, “You know, honey, husbands come and go but I’m still Cher at the end of the day.”