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'Moonstruck': Filming Crazy Love Stories

March 01, 1987|DONALD CHASE

Loretta is a dowdy, prematurely gray-streaked 37-year old widow who lives with her parents and grandfather (Feodor Chaliapin Jr. of "The Name of the Rose") and works as a free-lance bookkeeper.

"She shares the dilemma of many women in their 30s today," said screenwriter Shanley. "She wants to have children, but has little time left to do that. So does she marry someone for whom she feels no passion but who will fulfill that wish? Or does she hold out for the right man and perhaps risk not fulfilling the wish? Loretta decides not to wait--but just as she becomes engaged, the right man comes along." All this, of course, causes the character an agony of indecision and guilt as well as giving her a sense of freedom.

"But I much prefer playing her 'Before' than 'After,' " Cher said. "The freedom is not interesting to me because that's something I know, usually. Yet I don't think of her as being constrained, exactly. My idea was to play her more as bossy and controlled.

"I don't know where I get these ideas," Cher said wonderingly, "but I usually have one for each scene, and if it's right, if it works well, it ends up carrying the whole scene." For the actress, who is "still trying to figure out what the fun part of making movies is," experimenting with these ideas is probably the closest thing to an answer. "I know that in watching movies, my own or anybody else's, it's the little ideas, the stray moments of behavior that don't seem 'acted' that interest me the most."

Not being allowed to experiment with her ideas is apparently one of her greatest frustrations in making movies: She once complained in an interview that Peter Bogdanovich gave her line readings.

"I think I must be very difficult to work with because I don't just put myself in a director's hands. If they pick me, they have to know that I'll have ideas--that that's what I can give. That was a problem in getting my first job as an actress."

Speaking of her own side of the actor-director equation, Cher said: "I happen to think crazy people make good actors because they can suspend their belief systems so easily--and at making movies you have to go in and out of different realities very quickly. Like I'm talking to you right now and in a few minutes I have to go out there and. . . ." For the last few words she lapsed into the New Yorkese in which she has been coached by co-actor Julie Bovasso (Travolta's mother in "Saturday Night Fever") and which has been reinforced by an unnamed "boyfriend," who's from Queens.

By this time, the actress had used some form of the word crazy perhaps 20 times--clinically, pejoratively and as a badge of honor denoting a fine and free family. Yet she is sane enough to add: "If everyone was like me, if everyone did what they wanted, who would there be to work the toll booths?"

She is quoted in the film's production notes as having said: "My father is Armenian and my mother French and Cherokee Indian, and the truth is the characters in the film aren't like my family at all." But on the set, in a more expansive and less official mood, Cher revised that somewhat, providing a wistful review of where she's been and how far she's come. "It kind of reminded me," she said, "of Sonny's family. Everybody eating and talking and shouting--but you have such good times. . . ."

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