Emmanuel Itier: Do you feel a lot of pressure with people's expectations about this movie, this being your first acting role? Are you scared about the box office and the premiere?
Christina Aguilera: I'm not. Whenever I release an album or when I go on tour, you can't really think about those things. You have to do the best possible job that you can to do, something you wholeheartedly believe in, and give it your all. You just have to throw the rest of it out into the universe and see what happens, but at the end of the day, I would hate myself if all I did it for was to find out the box office numbers or if it was going to be a number one hit, things like that. That's just not my agenda. I'm more into the creative process itself, and I came out of this growing and learning so much. But at the end of the day, would it be nice? Yes. You want people to see the film, absolutely.
EI: What was the experience of being an actress, a singer, and a mother at the same time like?
CA: It's quite a balancing act, and you do have to juggle a lot of your time. For this one in particular, I was working 17-hour days at a time, and it was really, really hard and grueling for me to be on set for that long and then have to work weekends sometimes and go in for dance rehearsals, and also write the material, record it in my studio at the same time... There were so many things on my plate, and then finding the time to be a great mom as well. But he is such a happy boy that I know, at the end of the day, that I'm making something that will make him proud, to see his mom and what she's done with her body of work.
EI: How much did you have to rely on Cam [Gigandet] for help in your scenes and things like that, being a first-timer, or was it more collaborative?
CA: It was really helpful. We started running lines and getting the feel for each other prior to shooting together. I'd never even said lines with anyone before. I was a line-virgin. He de-virginized me. We had good onscreen chemistry.
EI: Can you talk about a bit about the cookie scene? Was he totally naked?
CA: There were cookies covering the only thing, yeah. He was. It was a day that I just got to kick back and enjoy, lay on the couch, and react to his crotch and his cookies. His cookies-crotch.
EI: How did you feel about the costumes?
CA: I loved the performance costumes. When it came down to it, they really did all come together. "I'm A Good Girl" is probably my favorite costume. It was just so girlie--the sequins, the rhinestone bra... It was a really beautiful piece that worked great for the number. A lot of my own wardrobe actually made it into some of the scenes, but I also like the "Express" outfit with the two hands on the butt. I forget what the term is which that references...
EI: You and Cher are both the divas in this movie, in a positive way. Does that word, to you, mean something good or negative?
CA: I don't see it negative as all. I think it's actually been given a bad name by some. For me, it represents a woman that knows and goes after what she wants, in one sense of the word. In the other sense of the word, it's been used to describe a dynamite performer or vocalist. Aretha Franklin. Whitney Houston. All in good company, I think.
EI: Do you think you're a diva in that sense of the word?
CA: Am I a diva bitch? I don't know. No. I definitely have an opinion on what I know I want and am determined to get it, just like my character, Ali. Do I think she's a diva because of that? No, not at all. I think there's a whole double standard. I think men don't really get called divas for just knowing what they want and going after it.
EI: Were you born that way, or is that something you've learned over years in the business?
CA: I've always know that. I've just gotten better tools as time has gone by, and how to get it and to be heard.
EI: How do you explain the fact that you're such a gay icon like Cher? Do you think you're a gay icon?
CA: I hope so. They can be the best audiences ever. But this film, I think, is so good for everyone, but I know especially for a lot of Cher's fans, and my fans included, that appreciate our work. I know we do have a gay following, and they will love this movie, along with everyone else. She's great company to be in. She actually said, "I don't think I'd even have a career if it wasn't for my gay fans."
EI: How do you explain that you have gay fans?
CA: I've been in support of gay rights for a very, very long time, and I also make it apparent in my creative statements. In my video for the song "Beautiful," I depicted two men kissing because, for some people, that would be considered an imperfection or something that should be seen as wrong or shameful, and the meaning of "Beautiful" was to accept everyone's differences and not see anything as being any imperfection at all but rather an individuality--a beautiful, individual expression one's self.
EI: Your makeup was really beautiful in the movie, but Cam wore more eyeliner than you did...
CA: I was jealous. It worked for the movie, for Jack.
EI: What's the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night?
CA: The first thing I do in the morning is open my eyes, have some coffee. No. I try to be there if I'm in town and not working. In a perfect world, I like to be the first thing that my son wakes up to see in the morning and the last thing he sees before he goes to bed.
EI: Do you have a daily ritual? Do you meditate?
CA: I don't meditate. I don't have any sort of religious regimen that I do, but I do keep in touch with myself and stay focused and grounded by just writing a lot. I write poetry and keep diaries--endless amounts of diaries.
EI: Do you want to continue acting, maybe doing a more dramatic role?
CA: I would like that, yeah. Maybe stray away a little bit from a musical movie. At first I swore I'd never do a musical as my first film because I really wanted to make a departure from how people see me as my first and foremost musical persona. But then, when Burlesque came knocking at my door, I couldn't deny the fact that it was the perfect role for me.
EI: So you'd like to do drama?
CA: Yeah. Ultimately, one of my favorite movies and a dream role would be Angelina Jolie's role in Girl Interrupted because it's so meaty and so gritty.
EI: What advice would you give to younger people to gain confidence? Because you have a lot of it...
CA: On my better days. I think confidence comes with time. I think you need to give it time and allow yourself to be not confident at times, because it's through those moments that you pick yourself back up. There's a learning process in gaining confidence. I don't think it's a one, two, three step. I just think it's a matter of feeling comfortable in your skin and allowing yourself to feel comfortable and understand what parts about yourself that you're not so secure about, because seemingly what might be an imperfection is your best and hottest quality. It's all in the eye of the beholder. I think just doing for yourself, connecting with yourself, understanding yourself and–this is sounding really bad now–having a good relationship with yourself to gain confidence.
EI: Have you ever felt vulnerable?
CA: Absolutely. I think that's where some of my best musical efforts have been inspired from, but it's all about plugging away and picking yourself back up and pulling through.
EI: What's the most unglamorous thing about being a performer?
CA: Dancers do not have the prettiest feet because, by the end of the day, they're all blistered and they've been pounded so hard into your shoes with the high heels. It's all fun and games to look at, but when it all comes off, you've got fishnet marks all down your legs.
EI: How did you identify with Ali?
CA: Her drive and her passion and her go-getter attitude of not taking no for answer. She has to really fight through the whole movie--first for a job with Jack, and then going toe to toe with Cher and Stanley Tucci, begging for them to see her and give her a chance and an opportunity to be heard. Then, finally, she has to take matters into her own hands and grab the bull by the horns and go for it onstage with the song "Tough Lover." But I appreciate that drive and I know what it feels like to come from nothing and make something of yourself and really make people hear you.
EI: At any point, did you have any disagreements with the way a scene went with anyone--the director or Cher or any of the other actors?
CA: It was a real collaborative effort. Cher was actually the most drawn-out where that process was concerned because sometimes she would come in and have these conversations with Steven [Antin], and she would rewrite. We were there to rehearse the scene, and she would take an hour and a half just to rewrite a scene, and I would have a line in the whole entire scene and would be sitting around waiting.
EI: How do you feel about that?
CA: You just have to go with it. Actually, my very first scene that I was thrown into doing was with Stanley Tucci and Cher, when I have to go in as a waitress and go toe to toe with them. I was just told to keep on talking and don't shut up. She finally puts her hand over my mouth and shuts me up for me, but that whole scene was the first thing I had to do with them--two Oscar-nominated/winning people. All the dialogue was completely out the window, and I had think on my toes and go off of what they were doing, and they were going off the cuff and I had to keep up. I felt like "Well, if you just listen to me...if you just listen to me" must've been said 15 times out of my mouth. Finding different ways to say, "Please, just listen to me," was hard, and to be funny.
EI: That was improvised?
CA: That was completely improvised, that entire scene. It was hard.
EI: Did you write some of the songs on the soundtrack?
CA: I did a song called "Express," the big ballad of the movie "Bound To You," and also the burlesque finale.
EI: Did you do research on burlesque?
CA: I've had burlesque books for years. I touched a little bit on the idea of the subject on an album that I had called Back to Basics, where I explored some of the '20s, '30s, and '40s glam looks and sounds, considering soul, jazz, and blues, which also inspired me to do this film because I knew I would be covering some of Etta James, who is my all time favorite singer. I definitely have a collection of burlesque books myself.
EI: Have you found shows to see in L.A.?
CA: There are places in L.A. where you can go to see burlesque-type shows. I think, in Europe, you can probably get a better handle on what's out there, as far as burlesque entertainment.
EI: Did you learn any new cool moves that you can use?
CA: I definitely put a lot of stuff in my body, as far as digesting technique and movement through the choreography that I had to explore in doing this film. It was quite the journey and a lot of hard work. I grew so much as a dancer. I always say that I never danced before in my life before I danced for this movie.
EI: Do you have a special diet as a dancer?
CA: No, it's just called dancing. I work 17 hours in a day and then go home.
EI: What do you eat in between?
CA: Whatever you can squeeze in there. It's like a water and a snack here and there. You just try to keep with protein, eating as clean as possible. For me, when you're working that much, the weight just comes off.