Christina Aguilera Heats Up in Burlesque
By Scott Huver
There's a considerably short list of women who begin their musical careers in their formative years, emerge as dominant pop icons of their generation and then reinvent themselves as top-caliber actresses. As Christina Aguilera makes her film-acting debut in the splashy musical Burlesque—a kicky, lingerie-clad retooling of the enduring small-town-girl-with-big-talent-makes-good fable— she may soon find herself among those legends.
The powerhouse performer, who turns 30 this month and has reigned atop the pop charts for more than a decade, is betting her talents will translate to the big screen. “I really wanted the right project to come along and let fate have its way,” she says. “Everything about Burlesque spoke to me.”
And it seems her work ethic spoke to the film’s key players. “She is so committed to excellence and raising the bar, it’s unparalleled,” says Burlesque writer/director Steven Antin. “Damn, I love this girl.” We caught up with Aguilera, who told us what this girl wants—what this girl needs—is a shot at showing what else she can do.
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LOS ANGELES CONFIDENTIAL: How was it making the transition into a full-on feature-film performance?
CHRISTINA AGUILERA: It was definitely different for me. I had a lot of emotion to evoke, as far as crying scenes and emotional bouts I had with Cher’s character. I knew I wanted to dig deep inside of myself and make sure those came from a real place of emotion with me. So I visited a lot of things in my past you don’t necessarily dig up on a regular basis. It was pretty exhausting and draining. I’m used to being able to express whatever is in my head or my heart at the time through song, through my vocals. Playing someone else, I had to put myself completely on the back burner because I really wanted to see what made my character tick. Because I’m such an expressive person, it was difficult for me to neglect myself for that long a period of time. I’m not going to say it was the easiest thing to do in the world, but I’m really proud of the results.
LAC: What do you remember most vividly about the time in your life similar to the movie’s plot—right before the big breakthrough?
CA: I tapped into that young, naïve little girl with big, wide eyes that came into this world of very jaded, sometimes bulldog personalities and had to find inner strength and fight to be heard many times—learning the hard way, being taken advantage of and trying to fight through insecurities and just go for it in an audition-type environment. I definitely had to tap into that place, but it’s right underneath the surface for me because I was bullied all through school—since I was seven years old—because of my love and passion for what I did. I definitely felt alienated many times in my life, so I had a lot of experience with pain and hardship and having to fight through that.