Extended transcript: Cher

Mason: You said, and I gotta quote this --

Cher: Oh, God, I hate it when someone does.

Mason: No, no, no, it's not that bad. Trust me --

Cher: Okay.

Mason: It was 20 years ago, you said, 'Getting older is the worst thing.' Even then, you weren't real happy about it?

Cher: Well, God, no.

Mason: Well, you look like you're doing okay.

Cher: I was almost 50, wasn't I? Twenty years ago? No, I was 47, right? And we already know how I am with numbers. (laughs) Yeah, well, 40 was like the greatest, 40 to 45, the greatest five years of my life.

Mason: Why?

Cher: I was having so much fun. The night I turned 40 -- except morning was not very good because George Miller [the director of "The Witches of Eastwick"] called -- I was staying at my friend's hotel, Steve Rubell -- most lovely man ever -- he let me run up, like, a $28,000 hotel bill. And in the morning, the kids brought me in a birthday cake, and I'm on the phone with George Miller. And he goes, "You can't be in "Witches" because Jack Nicholson doesn't think you're sexy.'

And I'm sobbing, and a bellboy and the kids are bringing me in this cake: Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you!

I mean, I did 'Witches' anyway, and then went straight into 'Moonstruck,' and then straight into 'Suspect.' And the kids were still little, and I was living in New York, and New York's so fabulous. So, it was great.

Mason: Go back to the Jack Nicholson thing for a second. How did you get past that?

Cher: Jack said -- he's out of his mind. He didn't want me in the movie. He hated me.

Mason: Why?

Cher: Because he said he didn't want Cher ruining his film. (laughs) And I went, 'You know what? I've already been nominated for an Academy Award.' I didn't want to do his film, either.

Mason: So why'd you do it?

Cher: Well, because they forced him. The studio put him down on the ground in a chokehold and said, 'You're using her.' He still didn't want it. And they kept going, 'He's gonna call you and say how excited he is to work with you.' (laughs)

Every time he called me, 'You're gonna have to go to a dialect coach. You're gonna have to change your hair. I really don't want you. They're forcing me.' (laughs) But then we started working, he was fabulous. I loved him. And we're still friends.

Mason: And you wanted to be in the movie even when he didn't want you in it?

Cher: Well, because my agent at the time, my lovely friend, Ronnie Meyer, he just said, 'You have to do this. We want you. We don't care what he wants.' So I kind of went in, and it was a tumultuous set. Thank God for Jack.

Like, we [Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer] were called 'the girls,' and nobody really cared about us. It was like interchangeable dialogue. Just go in and be pretty and shut up, or try to say your lines and shut up. And so Jack sat with us once all night long saying, 'She wouldn't say this. She would say that. Cher, what do you think, that's right for you?' 'Yes, yes, yes.' And all the girls were happy.

Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer in "The Witches of Eastwick." Warner Brothers

Mason: You had that incredible run of films.

Cher: I did.

Mason: I think a lot of people would have thought you'd have made more movies after that?

Cher: Well, I got really sick after the end of -- I did an album, and I did the movies back-to-back, and then I went on tour for the movies, and then I went on tour promoting the album. And then I got really sick, and I didn't do anything for two years. And I never thought I'd do a lot of movies. I'm surprised I did as much as I've done. I just knew that that wasn't going to be a long life for me.

Mason: Would you make more movies if you got offers?

Cher: Yeah.

Mason: But you're not getting them?

Cher: No. Haven't pursued them, actually. But, no.

Mason: Did you like acting?

Cher: Yes, I did. It was fun. I loved being on Broadway [in "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" in 1982], because it was so amazing that you didn't actually have to look at the audience, and you weren't alone. You know, you had a whole bunch of people that had to have their own time, too.

I really loved it, and Sandy Dennis was wonderful and Sudie Bond, I loved everybody. And working with Robert Altman was great. But it was also a joyous time in New York. I had so many friends, and it was great.

Mason: You worked hard to be taken seriously as an actress, but then you kind of gave it up, almost?

Cher: Yeah. Do you expect something more?

Mason: (laughs) I don't know.

Cher: You're gonna get some of these. (laughs) Sometimes it's just that.

Mason: That was enough for you?

Cher: No. It just was, I don't know. It just was what happened.

Mason: You turned down some pretty big parts?

Cher: I turned down one that I really wanted. But I was sick.

Mason: Which was that?

Cher: 'Thelma and Louise.' But I believe what belongs to you, comes to you. That was Sue's role. If it was mine, I would have done it.

Mason: You turned down the Charles Grodin part in 'Midnight Run'?

Cher: Yes. (laughs) But I said, 'Look, this is not going to be funny coming from a woman. This is what you would expect to come from a woman.' It wouldn't have been funny. Chuck Grodin's so hysterical, but it wouldn't have been funny coming from a woman.

Meryl Streep and Cher in "Silkwood," directed by Mike Nichols. Both actresses were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances. 20th Century Fox

I also turned down the part in Marty Scorsese's 'The Last Temptation of Christ,' to play Mary Magdalene. I went there looking like her, 'cause Meryl helped me with it. And he went, 'What do you mean, you don't want to do it?' And I went, 'Well, I can't do it. I just wanted to come and meet you and have the interview.'

Mason: You and Meryl Streep are very different kinds of actresses?

Cher: Yes.

Mason: But you got along really well?

Cher: Yes.

Mason: Why is that?

Cher: I loved her. The first thing she ever did was come up and hug me and she went, 'I'm so glad you're here.' And we just got along so well. No, we couldn't be more different. She does her own ironing. (laughs) I don't think she does that anymore.

Mason: That's one way to separate you, I guess?

Cher: Yes.

Mason: I mean, one of the things I was struck by what she said was that you're such an instinctual actress? Why were you so good at this?

Cher: I don't know.

Mason: Did you always believe you could do it?

Cher: No, I never believe I can do anything.

Mason: You don't?

Cher: Unh-uh. Never.

Mason: So then [why] do you try?

Cher: I don't know what else to do.

For more info: