The ''Mamma Mia!'' star reveals how she prepared for her first musical role

Entertainment Weekly: You’ve sung on screen before, but this is your first full-fledged musical.
Meryl Streep: This is full-out, babe. [Laughs] I worked with the musical director three, four times before I stepped into the recording studio. They just threw us in, shot us out of a cannon. And pretty much that is what you hear on the soundtrack.

Do you listen to it at home?
Streep: Oh, sure. And everybody at my house is real sick of hearing it. But Gracie, my daughter, said, ”Mom, as annoying as you are, I just can’t get the songs out of my head!”

Speaking of daughters, did you connect with your character’s struggle to let her child go?
Streep: Well, I’m not letting any of [my daughters] get married. [Laughs] This is a fantasy, this film. Letting go? No way.

Were you a fan of ABBA before the movie?
Streep: I was in drama school at the height of their popularity, and I was listening to nothing but [exaggerated low voice] Lou Reed. There was nothing optimistic on my horizon. But I was aware of the music, and when we were learning it, I was shocked how many songs I knew.

This is a female-centered movie, written, directed, and produced by women. How did that feel?
Streep: Very different. And the story celebrates all the good female stuff. So much of what we see now about girls feels retrograde. It’s all backbiting. But this is right smack back to the sisterhood of the ’70s. That made me happy.

And dance training?
Streep: I remember [costar] Colin Firth came the first day in a complete bespoke suit. I’d already been there for an hour and was wringing wet. That’s how I met him. I thought, ”I smell like a camel.” But pretty soon I was happy to see that little white shirt plastered to him! He got into it. We all did. We just had to roll up our panty hose and do it.

Steve Daly, Jeff Jensen, Chris Nashawaty, Missy Schwartz, Jessica Shaw, Benjamin Svetkey, Adam B. Vary, Josh Wolk

Mamma Mia!
  • Movie
  • 108 minutes