Jump to content

10 Years of Burlesque (interview)

Recommended Posts



Cher, Christina Aguilera sing justice for Burlesque, 10 years later

EW's oral history with the cast and crew celebrates the musical's 10-year anniversary with candid secrets from the set.
CLINT CULPEPPER (Screen Gems studio president): One day I was on the set of a movie [and] Christina’s agent called, saying they’d had a big meeting with her and that she wanted to do a movie. They thought I might have something, and I smiled and told them I might. I called Steven [and told him] it was a sign he should make this movie. Steven started to write it and it snowballed from there. We started on the script right away!

CHRISTINA AGUILERA (Ali/songwriter): I'd been presented other acting and movie opportunities, but was holding out for something that felt right. Timing can play a big factor in balancing between album and touring cycles.

ANTIN: I actually shot the show that Christina Aguilera did with the Pussycat Dolls [years prior], but I didn’t get to know her then. A few years after, we sent her the script for Burlesque. I saw her at a party and approached her. She was sweet and said she knew about the script, but hadn’t read it yet. She finally read it and agreed to a meeting with Clint and [then-Sony Motion Picture Chairperson] Amy Pascal. I wasn’t there for that meeting, and I believe Clint helped in getting her to say yes.

CULPEPPER: She had notes…. We even did a rewrite to make the character more active. She wanted it to reflect more of today’s woman.

AGUILERA: I wanted to make sure Burlesque felt right before confirming, so it was important to meet Steven in person. His warm and genuine nature encouraged me to confirm, along with him interweaving so many pieces of my love for Etta James [into the script], knowing my personal passion for Burlesque [on] my Back to Basics album, and also [with me having] performed in the original Pussycat Dolls stage show at the Roxy.

ANTIN: She came and met me in my office…. It was a very good meeting. I liked her so much. She asked really smart questions. One has to be quick and prepared for someone like Christina in a meeting. She had the best skin and the bluest eyes I’d ever seen.

CULPEPPER: We [later] went out to dinner with Christina and her [then-husband Jordan Bratman], we went to her house and listened to a bunch of music and got to know each other. She and Steven sat and played ideas for music, [later] she went into his office and saw all the books he’d collected on production design and photography — all stuff that appealed to her…. They hit it off great. Steven and Christina were, creatively, on the same page.

AGUILERA: I had always been inspired by throwback classic pin-up art and burlesque style, essentially all things celebrating the female body and sexuality, so I was already versed in the history and appeal of this world, conceptually. I collected books, had played with burlesque style on my Back to Basics tour, and explored visual concepts and songs (including “Nasty Naughty Boy,” about a striptease).


ANTIN: For the role of Ali, we wanted an actress with a very big voice. Christina was the choice. The role of Tess could’ve gone several ways. At first, I was interested in Queen Latifah or Michelle Pfeiffer. But Clint came up with and loved the idea of Cher. Amy really wanted Cher, and so did Clint. I liked the idea, too. So did Christina. I mean, hello. Cher. Enough said…. Cher was on a soundstage doing a voiceover for Zookeeper. Clint heard she was there. We camped outside of the stage and waited for her to exit. When she did, we introduced ourselves.

CULPEPPER: Christina kept saying, “Please, Clint, get Cher! Don’t come back to me without Cher!” It was a joke between us, because after I met Cher at her house for three hours with Donald [De Line, the executive producer] and Steve, we called Christina as we left. She was at the Chateau with some friends and she said, “Come here immediately. I have to hear everything!”

CULPEPPER: Cher called me to say she was on the lot [on a different stage] rehearsing her Vegas act, and to drop by. So, I did. Christina was on the other side of the lot rehearsing. I’d told Cher that Christina loved her so much: “You don’t understand, this chick would drink your bathwater!” Cher started laughing hysterically and said, “Well, I hope that doesn’t become necessary!”

When we met Cher, Christina was holding her kid on her hip, and we walked over…. Cher [saw us] and went, “Ok, everybody, take five!” It was so cute. Christina stuck her hand out and said “Hi, I’m Christina, the one who would drink your bathwater.” Cher grabbed her and gave her a big hug and a kiss.

AGUILERA: She’s truly an incredible woman and a force of nature. I respect her talent, her no-bulls---, genuine way of saying it as she sees it, making up her own rules, and helping


TRICKY STEWART (songwriter/producer): Christina is a real diva, and being around her and watching her attention to detail, the vibe that she gives me always made me want to make music that I consider to be “fabulous.” Burlesque was an extension of “Glam” and “Prima Donna” from Bionic, a continuation of that fabulousness, but with a controlled theme and narrative.

AGUILERA: In songwriting, I had to tackle both the tender moments of Ali falling in love with Jack, while also tackling the opposite energy of the up-tempo [songs] where I needed to embody and exude the powerful, sensual, and celebratory sides that encompass a woman.

DENISE FAYE (choreographer): I remember when Christina wrote the song to the number “Express,” and the finale song “Show Me How You Burlesque,” she brought me to her house with Clint and Steven, and [she started playing songs, like] “Maybe this song for this number” and “Maybe this song for the finale.” She was adorable, reading off her iPhone — kind of scared — with something prepared, and the songs blew us away. They were beyond genius. The idea for “Express,” when the girls are crawling through the vanities, we came up with that there, and the idea for the “Burlesque” letters lighting up at the end, we came up with that — and using the 360 degrees of the space because it was so gigantic — there.

STEWART: We were sitting in a room at her house. I went to the drum machine that I use and just [plays drum], the first thing that popped off was how it needed to feel and move. Once I hit a kick pattern, she loved it, and she started rapping. She was coming out with words, going back and forth.

ANTIN: Christina had to become familiar with the entire process of acting. She’d never really done it before, and suddenly she was the lead, carrying a movie. From rehearsing with other actors to learning lines to embracing the moment and the realness of it all. She was open to my direction, which was great…. Christina realized this was new to her and she took it all very seriously, and was committed to working hard on getting it right.

AGUILERA: In preparation of shooting, I worked with an acting coach. I’d never been taught or exposed to such a wide range of “technical” dance and so many different styles and levels all at once while rehearsing and filming this movie.

CULPEPPER: Christina said, “Trust me, you’re not going to have a problem. I’ve got this.” After a few days, Denise said we weren’t going to need a body double. She’d rehearse, even at home, because Christina’s not showing up to not be the best on set. There’s not a world where Christina is going to be out-danced or out-sung.

FAYE: She was dancing in styles she hadn’t before, and you can see how gorgeously she did. She didn’t use any doubles. This is all her, working hard and being spectacular. She was completely in it, she wasn’t trying to change it at all, she wasn’t trying to make it comfortable for herself.

ANTIN: Denise and Joey wanted Christina to do a difficult dance move in “But I’m a Good Girl” — an extended back-attitude kick to the head. It’s a very tough move that requires a lot of skill. It involves doing a back-kick where her heel touches the back of her head…. None of us thought she could do it, and honestly, we weren’t concerned because we had the double ready to go. But Christina quietly kept rehearsing it and trying it and working on it, and one day she said to me, “I don’t need a dance double. I can do it.” She did it on the day we shot it over and over.


AGUILERA: Cher definitely felt like my mama bear during shooting. In my experience of meeting and working with some of the greatest legends, the best ones usually are that way. They look out for you in a real way, and it was an honor to work alongside Cher. She gave me some good advice, shared some personal insight and stories on love, and also encouragement along the way when I needed to hear it! There were a few scenes we shared where I learned from her that being a supportive costar really helps to create something special, and motivating each other is what makes for a great outcome. It’s important to have a communication and a special understanding of each other.

CHER: One of my favorite scenes is when I was helping Christina with her makeup. It was all very spontaneous. It reminded me of when I was a young girl and my mom and all her friends would put on makeup together.


AGUILERA: Every dancer moved their body in a different unique way, and it’s a beautiful thing to appreciate and fall in love with dance on the personal level that this movie provided for me. It was a lifetime of lessons compacted into a short period of time, in so many ways.

It's a long ass interview, but I tried to put the answers pertaining to Christina in the OP.


You can read the full thing here:


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/25/2020 at 12:57 PM, Kirjava said:

This movie has really become a cult classic oprah2

It is kinda a semi-famous movie. In Romania it's played every year on TV, sometimes multiple times in a year oprah2

I remember watching this movie for the first time when I started stanning her on a trashy pirate website not knowing if it would work and all that, but I knew I liked it a lot. 

I think I may have watched the same night as Britney's Crossroads cuz I wanted to see everything my faves were in and see their first (and only) movies. katy2

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Replies 7
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

It is kinda a semi-famous movie. In Romania it's played every year on TV, sometimes multiple times in a year  I remember watching this movie for the first time when I started stanning her on a tr

I have loved this film since seeing it when it was in theaters.

This movie has really become a cult classic

  • Browsing now   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.