Cher’s legend looms larger than life, which makes it particularly fascinating when people in the entertainment industry—especially men—try to parse what she’s “all about” on a human scale. As if Cher could be compared to anyone else on the planet!
Director, actor and old-school Hollywood regular Peter Bogdanovich has given a new interview to Vulture in which he discusses the major celebrities with whom he has collaborated over the years, and Cher is among them. Bogdanovich helmed the 1985 drama Mask, in which she starred as the mother of a teenage boy with craniodiaphyseal dysplasia. The interview offers many striking revelations about the movie business, but Bogdanovich’s sour comments about the “Believe” singer, which he perhaps intended to be stinging, only render her more formidable.
When writer Andrew Goldman asked the director whom the most difficult actor he ever worked with was, Bogdanovich replied that it was Cher. “Well, she didn’t trust anybody, particularly men,” he said. “She doesn’t like men. That’s why she’s named Cher: She dropped her father’s name. Sarkisian, it is.”
It only got saucier from there. “She can’t act,” Bogdanovich added. “She won Best Actress at Cannes because I shot her very well. And she can’t sustain a scene. She couldn’t do what Tatum [O’Neal] did in Paper Moon. She’d start off in the right direction, but she’d go off wrong somehow, very quickly. So I shot a lot of close-ups of her because she’s very good in close-ups. Her eyes have the sadness of the world. You get to know her, you find out it’s self-pity, but still, it translates well in movies. I shot more close-ups of her than I think in any picture I ever made.”
Yikes. Bogdanovich slips into some questionable territory here, claiming that it was his expertise that resulted in a performance many consider admirable. Of course, we weren’t on the set of Mask, but we’d like to remind him that Cher’s Oscar for Moonstruck was no fluke. She didn’t win it on the strength of her close-ups—on the contrary, her physical dynamism rules the movie.
She stabs the air and pinches her fingers while laying down the law for co-star Nicholas Cage. She slams doors. She pulls her clothes on in a wild rush after a fateful one-night stand. This is acting, people.
It’s also worth noting that Cher’s supposed “distrust” of men is actually a deeply ingrained and thoughtfully considered lifestyle choice. She’s quoted as having said “a man is not a necessity—a man is a luxury,” and was later asked about that famous quote in a decades-old interview that has since become a popular meme.
“I love men—I think men are the coolest,” Cher deadpanned, after comparing them to dessert. “But you don’t really need them to live. My mom said to me, ‘You know, sweetheart, one day you should settle down and marry a rich man.’ And I said, ‘Mom, I am a rich man.'”
Bogdanovich, you might want to snap out of it.