Cher was 'nervous' at joining cast of Mamma Mia! sequel
Cher joins Mamma Mia! sequel, says her voice is even more powerful
As a new cast member on the set of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, the sequel to the original musical rom-com of 10 years ago, pop legend Cher acknowledged some butterflies, surprising for someone with such a long, successful career.
But never underestimate a performer's insecurities.
"I was really nervous," the 72-year-old US actress-singer admitted at our interview at the London West Hollywood hotel in Beverly Hills.
"But everybody was so kind and just really, really nice to me. I did not know any of them except Meryl (Streep). I did not know the director (Ol Parker, who wrote the role for her), and I had been kind of mean to him before I met him," she said with a laugh.
"But he is one of the best directors I have ever worked with, maybe the best director."
Hollywood veteran Streep is Cher's long-time friend, and Cher plays - wait for it - Streep's estranged mother in the movie, despite a mere three-year age gap between them. But the pair apparently found it amusing.
On their friendship, Cher said: "We are always in touch. And she did a really funny thing. I was on the set doing my song, and then I saw this shadowy figure lurking around one side, she had sneaked onto the set to watch me.
"Afterwards, she was squealing and we were laughing and hugging each other. And my assistant said she had been there the whole time. But yes, we talk and e-mail all the time."
In Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, which opens here on Aug 9, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is planning the grand opening of Hotel Bella Donna in a tribute to her late mother Donna (Streep).
(Don't worry, Streep fans, she is still in the movie.)
Then the movie flashes back periodically to young Donna's (Lily James) life, her arrival on the Greek island of Kalokairi and her subsequent romances and pregnancy.
Cher's character Ruby Sheridan makes her surprise grand appearance, appropriately enough, at the opening night party of the hotel, and brings the house down with her rendition of one of ABBA's most popular songs, Fernando, directed to her conveniently re-found beau who just happens to be the hotel's manager (Andy Garcia).
In person, Cher is as glamorous as you would imagine, beautifully dressed and made up, amazing wig in place, and younger looking by decades.
She is also much softer-spoken and almost tentative in her responses than you would expect. Her voice is stronger than ever though, she said.
"Yeah, it is about a hundred times better. I am surprised I have not had to drop my keys. I still really love singing.
"It sounds weird, but one of my favourite things to do is when we are rehearsing onstage, like in an arena, I love standing and singing. I like the feeling of my voice coming out of my body because it is so big and it so fills my whole body up with this kind of physical feeling, an emotional feeling. It is going to diminish, but right now it has not," she said.
Cher recently became an ABBA fan in the wake of the sequel.
She said: "They were never as popular in America as they were the rest of the world... I never realised how complicated the songs are because they sound just like pop songs. Everything is a hook. They just go from one hook to another hook and then all the music is hooked. I remember when I saw (the 1994 comedy-drama) Muriel's Wedding was when I just kind of became enamoured with them, and on this movie, the songs are so amazing."
In fact, she annnounced recently that she is planning to do an album of ABBA covers. For years, Cher has focused on her Las Vegas residency show and she has not put out an album since 2013.
After two ex-husbands, Sonny Bono and Gregg Allman, and two children, there are no men currently in her life.
"Well, I had one not so long ago, but the truth is, having any kind of boyfriend in front of the press only leads to tears. It has never worked that well. I have had break-ups. Robert (Camilletti) was a perfect example. We had the press stalking us, and he went to jail and he had not done anything (wrong). So it is better now to hide everything."
And there have been regrets.
She said: "I think failure is necessary. Failure is highly underrated because when you are having a success, you never go, 'Oh my God, why am I having this?'
" But when you have just had a failure, you think about it, you ruminate, and you want to explore it, and I think it makes you be better."