The ‘Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again’ Cast Reveals Who Was the Real Diva on Set
Ten years ago, Mamma Mia sang and danced onto screens and into our hearts. The sequel, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, brought back all of the things we loved about the original — a star-studded cast, a dreamy Mediterranean island, and a soundtrack of catchy ABBA songs that refuse to get unstuck from your head — and supersized it with one word: Cher.
Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again goes back in time to dive into the backstory of the Dynamos and Dynabros and also introduces a vibrant new roster of talent, including Lily James (young Donna), Jessica Keenan Wynn (young Tanya), Alexa Davies (young Rosie), Hugh Skinner (young Harry), Josh Dylan (young Bill), and Jeremy Irvine (young Sam). It’s clear the cast had just as much fun making the film as we did watching it. Here’s what they had to say about everything from what was left out of the final film to who was the true diva on set.
On What Was Left on the Cutting Room Floor: Says James, “There’s nothing much that was cut. Ol Parker, our director and writer, wrote a very well structured, timed out, paced out [film]. And this was pretty faithful to what he set out to do.” Of the few moments that were cut, James and Keenan Wynn had a song that was edited (“I Wonder”) because it didn’t keep up with the tone of the scene. It’s now included as a deleted scene on the home entertainment release. Irvine had a verse in “Andante, Andante” that was ultimately cut as well. “I think it was the only bit of good singing I did in the movie,” he jokingly laments. “But in movies, you have to let it go and be grateful for what has made the final cut.”
On Stepping into the Shoes of the Film’s Iconic Characters: Filling the shoes of A-listers like Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, and Pierce Brosnan was no easy feat. But the entire cast quickly became a tight-knit family, and the supportive vibes on set gave everyone room to embrace and discover their characters. Most importantly, there were no egos.
Keenan Wynn says the set was “very welcoming and equal and wondrous.” She credits the bond created between the actors in enabling them to fully embrace their roles. “You want to do the movie justice, you want to do the characters justice, and then you want to do these actresses justice. Luckily, we developed a relationship between the three of us [with James and Davies] for five weeks in rehearsal that allowed us to find the characters just being ourselves. Once we found that relationship, it was much easier to tap into Tanya, Rosie, and Donna.”
Irvine adds, “What [the original cast] did do was hang out with us a lot, and we sort of all became mates. I think they’re all a bit too nice of people to give us advice, but they did make us all feel very comfortable and like we’re also working on their level… even though we weren’t.”
On Cher: Everything about Cher, who plays Sophie’s grandmother — and Meryl Streep’s mother — in the movie is iconic, from her soulful her rendition of “Fernando” to her platinum blonde hair. On set, though, the singer was surprisingly… normal. “She changes the temperature in the room; the pH changes when she walks into the room,” says Keenan Wynn. But she’s quick to add, “She’s lovely. She was really nervous, which was cute. She watched [the film] for the first time at the premiere, and then she was grabbing everyone just to tell them how much she admired and adored them.”
Cher is still Cher, though, and you can’t help but be starstruck by her presence. When she sang, everyone came to watch. “Suddenly Bob from accounting was in, and the cooks were in, and people’s moms were in,” says James, who even brought her own mom to the set the day Cher performed because “Cher’s her favorite ever.” James likens the experience to being in the front row of a private Cher concert. Keenan Wynn adds, “She sounded amazing… [There was] not a dry eye.”
On the True Diva of the Set: Irvine calls it hilarious that “you’ve got so many big stars. And then Meryl Streep walks in, and you’re like, Well, that’s as big as it gets. And then Cher walks on set.” Charles adds, “And then Hugh Skinner walks on set.”
The true friendship that emerged between the cast members contributed to some gentle ribbing from Dylan and Irvine, who joked that it was Skinner who was the true presence on set. “He’s very demanding, so you feel that fear that the crew gets when Hugh walks on set. Whereas with Cher, she’s actually very lovely and sweet, and everyone gets on really well with her.” Skinner, he says, was “the queen of the set… Queen Hugh.”
Check out the full interview below.
Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again (with plenty of sing-along opportunities) is now available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and digital. The 10th Anniversary Edition of the original Mamma Mia is also available.
Lesley Chen is a California native who writes about travel, health/fitness, and other lifestyle topics. She has a serious case of RBF and exercises mainly to balance out an aggressive candy addiction.
It can be intimidating to step out on your own and build a business from the ground up. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're talking with Selfmade alum and solopreneur Colette Lawrence, the faith-based motivator and relationship builder behind The M.E.E. Movement, about ways in which women in business can find success.
B + C: How did you know M.E.E. Movement was your business to start?
The M.E.E Movement represents motivation, empowerment, and encouragement for women. It is what represents me. I did not know at first that it was my business to start, but then the thought of monetizing what I loved came to me. It scared me, however. I registered the business in July 2020 and have been slowly building my wings since.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
Thinking through and researching what the requirements are to start my business, and then asking questions of people who are in the business. Not all advice worked; however, it helped me to figure out what I needed to do and not to do.
B + C: Did you always know life coaching would be your entrepreneurial path?
(Smiles) No, I did not. I 'stumbled" on it. I knew that people were always coming to me for advice and I found that I loved having conversations with them, especially with women, young and old.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
My most valuable takeaway was the first day of training: Get out of your own way. There were a lot of great moments and important takeaways from every presenter. However, getting out of my own way, pushing past doubts, was for me my most valuable takeaway. Doing something that I had never done before took courage. If I do not focus on what is happening with me mentally then I cannot deliver to my clients successfully.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Get out of your head. You have something to offer. You have what you need to succeed so go ahead and do it.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I stay motivated by listening to music and listening to motivational speakers, and sometimes someone will just reach out and talk about the impact that I made in their life. That adds the extra juice or sauce I need to pummel through the day.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip?
Keep a diary and journal. It's the best way for me to keep organized and it also provides a source motivation as I record not only my "losses" but my wins as well.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Shirley Toliver – She motivates and empowers and makes me always want to show up.
B + C: What has receiving the Office Depot scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start or grow your business?
The scholarship was a blessing in that all the areas that were covered offered valuable information that I needed, from social media to HR. As a new business owner, I needed to know this to increase my own personal awareness in what it takes to run a successful business. The candidness of the presenters made it easy to see myself in their shoes and helped me to realize that I can also get there.
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