It’s difficult to imagine a more successful transition from stage to screen than the one Cher enjoyed in the 80s. When trailers aired for her first major movie Silkwood in 1983, audiences openly laughed at her. Five years later, she collected the Oscar for Moonstruck.
It’s a controversial win in some quarters – after all, she beat Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction – but a highly satisfying and deserved one. Cher isn’t the most traditionally showy of actresses, but she brings a sense of grounded humanity to her performance that the whimsical Moonstruck couldn’t sustain itself without. Mermaids and The Witches of Eastwick may run it close, but it’s probably still her most likeable screen role.
She was clearly no fool when it came to the casting process either. After she was attached, a young Nicholas Cage was tested for the role of her love interest. 17 years her junior and then still very much a rising star, he didn’t impress the studios, but Cher insisted that he was the only choice for the role, and threatened to quit the production if he wasn’t cast.
Naturally, she was entirely correct. The contrast between Cage’s force-eleven scenery chewing and Cher’s dry world-weariness should be a tonal nightmare, but somehow it works. You can totally understand why they’d be attracted to each other. It’s not only her best screen performance, it’s one of his too.
The film is actually packed with career-best performances, including Olympia Dukakis, who went from little-known character actress to Oscar winner thanks to her hilarious, heart-wrenching performance as Cher’s mother. Vincent Gardenia and Danny Aiello also have very funny supporting turns as the emotionally immature men in their lives, and virtually every minor character has some kind of back story that the film has great fun hinting at, but never wastes too much time on.
On this week’s episode, we break it all down and highlight some of our favourite moments, including Cage’s celebrated ‘I lost my hand’ speech, Cher’s iconic mid-movie makeover, the quote that spawned a thousand drag queens and much more, plus drinking games, listener reactions and our sequel pitches.
If you enjoy this week’s Moonstruck episode, hit subscribe to receive a new show every Monday morning on the podcatcher of your choice. You can also leave us a review on your preferred platform, or sign up to our Patreon, where you can enjoy bonus episodes, cross-promotional opportunities, input into making the show and more, all for as little as $2 per month.
Next week, we turn back time from one major pop star to actress success story to another, but which will be our greatest love of all? Until then, happy listening and remember – always listen to Cher.