It’s almost time to bust our your best overalls — Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, the highly anticipated sequel to 2008’s ABBA-filled movie-musical, is just days away from hitting theaters.
Ahead of its release this Friday, members of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’s starry cast (including Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Stellan Skarsgard, Pierce Brosnan, Christine Baranski, and Dominic Cooper) joined EW and PEOPLE for a Facebook Live to preview what we can expect from the film and revealed their favorite memories from filming.
One of the most exciting additions to the sequel’s cast is Cher (Yes, Cher!), who revealed to EW, that she had forgotten she was previously in an ABBA video back in the day, featuring the Swedish band and some puppets. The music video is titled “The Last Video,” which Seyfried promptly googled mid-interview.
Cher, who joined the film at the behest of Ron Meyer, her former agent who is now the Vice Chairman of Universal, said she was daunted by the prospect of joining the close-knit cast and putting her spin on ABBA songs. “I was a little bit intimidated because to do one of their songs and to do it differently; I have my voice and it’s different than the girls,” she said. “I was wondering if [ABBA songwriter Benny Andersson] was going to like it. I actually didn’t expect it to sound so different. It wasn’t what I was going after, but I can’t hide my voice.”
Costar Andy Garcia added that having the chance to perform with Cher was something that had been on his acting “bucket list,” while Baranski said she had to keep pinching herself at the prospect of working with the music legend. “The idea that I would be on a film set with Cher, I had to pinch myself,” she said. “She’s an authentic rock chick. The rest of us are faking it. She’s the real deal.”
For Baranski, that reflected a similar memorable experience on the first film, shooting the extravagant musical number to “Dancing Queen,” which is her favorite ABBA song and the one she said that introduced her to the band when she heard it playing in a record store. “It’s when we all come together and we’re all just dancing and singing with abandon,” she said. “I remember dancing down a hill next to James Bond thinking It doesn’t get better than this. It’s a goddess song about female energy.”
Here We Go Again turns the clock back to show Donna — played in the original film by Meryl Streep — as a young woman (with James now taking on the role) during the summer in which she meets three handsome men and becomes pregnant by one of them. Seyfried reprises her role from the original Mamma Mia! as Donna’s daughter Sophie – who is now pregnant herself — with Brosnan, Skarsgard, and Colin Firth returning as well.
Seyfried said the experience of making this film was actually more enjoyable than the first because the intervening 10 years gave her more confidence in herself. “I was only 21 so I had my own intimidations and insecurities that came into play,” she said. “It was an element that did not exist in this 2018 version. It was just like getting back into a warm bath with my friends.”
Brosnan and Skarsgard had their own insecurities to overcome, namely their lack of confidence about their dancing and singing abilities (that earned them some ribbing when the first film debuted). Brosnan reprises his signature tune “S.O.S.” here, and he told EW, “I think I’ve mildly improved. I sing ‘S.O.S.’ but it’s a cappella. That was a big relief. The first time around that was really daunting. Everyone had a good joke at my expense. I didn’t take it personally.”
Skarsgard said he was relieved to get to set and have significantly less dancing and singing to do than he did in the first film. “On the first one, I remember rehearsing for a month and a half dance steps for ‘Voulez-Vous.’ But this time I just had a few pieces of ‘Dancing Queen.’ I worked hard on those pieces.” He also adds that his experiences recording with ABBA’s Benny Andersson likely reduced his singing responsibilities. “I looked at him through the window and I could see the pain in his eyes. One week later I got a new script and there wasn’t any song for me any more,” he jokes.
The film divides its time between past and present and Baranski noted that it’s Streep’s spirit that really “permeates” the entire film — and the spirit of the legacy cast was something that was daunting for the newer cast members taking on the younger versions of these characters.
“Obviously, it was terrifying, and yet, also, if you look at it from a different perspective, the best gift ever to play a character that’s already been created by Meryl Streep,” said James. “There was so much to draw on, this well of character and expression and personality that I could get a bit of.” James didn’t meet Streep until very late in the filming process, but described the legendary actress as “generous.” She added, “They wanted to share the characters with us and they let us own it and inhabit it.”
Jessica Keenan Wynn, who portrays the younger version of Baranski’s Tanya, added, “I’ve always been a fan of Christine, so I think I’ve been studying her since I was younger.” Wynn credits the script and costumes with making their jobs easy. “It honestly was a joy and quite easy to access because I have so many pieces of her that inform so many of my characters. And the wig did the rest of it,” she said.
Hugh Skinner, who plays the younger incarnation of Firth’s character, echoed this notion, saying, “[Colin] made the point, that we’re not playing Christine or Meryl or Colin or Pierce, that we’re playing the characters and that felt psychologically easy to digest. So much of it is in the script.”
Still, it mostly sounds like the five weeks they spent shooting on an island in Croatia was more of a working holiday than actual work. The new cast members reflected joyfully on their time all living together on the island and the way they adopted numerous local cats and dogs during their time shooting.
While everyone in the cast agrees that they’d be up for a Mamma Mia! 3, James said for now she’d settle for them having the opportunity to make cameos in a potential ABBA tour.
Watch the video above for more.