What was it like joining the cast of Mamma Mia?

It was the easiest time. Everybody was so calm. Maybe it's because they'd worked with each other before. And then I came in, the lone person that just came in by themselves. I was really nervous but everybody was so kind and just really nice.

Who was your first supporter?

I guess my mother because she was so encouraging. I wanted to do this from the time I was 4 years old. I went to see Cinderella and I knew that's what I was going to be. And then I would say Sonny [Bono].

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Do you have any regrets?

We don't have enough time to go through that. (she laughs) But yeah, there are regrets. I think failure is necessary. I also think that failure is highly underrated because when you are having success, you never go, "Oh my God, why am I having this?" But when you've just had a failure, you think about it, you ruminate, and you want to explore it. I think it makes you be better.

What was your experience like at this year's Sydney Mardi Gras?

It was great. I got there and there were all these gigantic Cher drag queens everywhere. Everybody was having such a good time and you couldn't help but get swept up in the spirit of that.

What's your beauty secret?

Well I'm never going to give that up. (again laughing). I work out all the time and I'm a healthy eater. I always have been. I take care of myself, and I try to take care of my skin because I know that that's the first thing that says how old you are. I think I live pretty healthily. I've never done drugs. I don't drink or smoke and that ages you.

If you had someone else's career, whose would it be?

I think it would be Meryl [Streep]. Meryl has a perfect career. I can't think of anyone better. There is no one better, and she balances her life really well. And she's really easygoing.

How do you feel about love these days? Do you have a boyfriend?

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's never worked well.

Did the #MeToo movement bring up anything from your past?

I had one incident with a very famous producer who I will not name. And I was really young. I wanted to do a movie and he called me to his house to do an interview, supposedly. And when I got there, several things happened. I wasn't anticipating this at all because I was already famous and couldn't believe that this guy was going to come off with this kind of crap. So, I just said, "I'm feeling really sick," and I left. And when I got home I thought, "How can he feel good about himself? How can he not know how inappropriate this is?"

You are such a huge personality. How do your sons deal with having Cher as a mother?

Well, I think it's not fun but I've been famous their whole lives. They know who I am but the outside personality doesn't have too much to do with me or them. I don't go around like this (perfectly made up and wearing designer clothes). When I'm at home I'm in sweatpants and no makeup and whatever.

What do you like to do for fun?

I like to work out. I like to go to the movies, and I like to paint. I like hanging out with my friends and just doing nothing, like having barbecues. I have lots of little friends who are now grown-up and they come to visit me all the time. They like to watch old movies because I kind of got them into seeing the benefit and the beauty of black and white movies.

What are the positives and negatives of being Cher?

It depends. There are lots of negatives and lots of positives. You can't get something for nothing. I would say it's had more of an effect on the people around me and the people I've been with, like husbands or boyfriends. Like anyone, sometimes it's great and sometimes I want to tear my hair out.

Lowdown

Mamma Mia 2, in cinemas July 19.
Cher plays Spark Arena, Sept 21 and 22. ticketmaster.co.nz, livenation.co.nz