Pierce Brosnan, Andy Garcia, ABBA, Stellan Skarsgard and the men of Mamma Mia 2 reveal all
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The lovely men of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again had just as much to dish on the exciting new film as their female counterparts! Ol Parker takes the helm in directing the sequel, as he explains: “I just had an email from Richard [Curtis] that just said “Random question, do you like ABBA?” and I wrote back “Who doesn’t?” and I thought he was going to invite me to dinner with Benny [Andersson] and Bjorn [Ulvaeus], because that’s how he rolls. And then he wrote, “follow up question, would you like to write the sequel?” and I said “yes, that’d be lovely thank you” … not that it was up to him to offer the job. “And Scarlett, Curtis’ extraordinary daughter, had the idea to do a prequel in the sequel, she’d suggested that it be Godfather 2. And that’s what he gave me. And then I came up with the story, and Richard and I spent a very happy time together in his caravan, in the countryside, and we put all our favourite songs up on the wall, and just tried to zigzag around them and crowbar them in. I mean, Andy [Garcia]’s character was created specifically so that Cher could sing Fernando to him!” “Having the songs is important to build the story around,” agrees Andersson, “because the lyrics in the songs are moving the story forwards. Then we had a script from Mr. Parker, and we swapped one or two of the songs.” “I think the reason it took ten years to get back here is that not every story needs another chapter,” explains the director, “not every film needs an encore, not every film needs a sequel. And so, I think it was about finding a way to tell the most emotional and impactful and meaningful story, and I just think it took a while to find that. “I think all these guys, all the legacy cast, and Benny and Bjorn too, they all have enough integrity, and frankly enough money, as much as they wanted to do a sequel, not to need to do it. And they were very keen not to sully the memory of the first one. And so, it was about finding a way to come back and tell a story worth telling.” The story has so much emotion and heart, which Parker credits to the first film. “I had the great gift of writing a sequel with some already known, already loved characters, so there’s so much to build on. It’s not 0 to 60; you start at 60 and crack on from there, which is a great gift and a tribute to the actors and the music that we do.” Not only did Mamma Mia change the musical film genre, but some people even claim that it changed, and sometimes saved, their lives. Bjorn Ulvaeus, one of the members of ABBA, is clearly humbled by the impact his music has had: “The fact that I’m sitting here today – I shouldn’t be sitting here today, because I thought that our music would go into oblivion like two years after we split up, and that’s some 35 years ago. I’m just very humbled and grateful, for sure.” On a more light-hearted note, both Pierce Brosnan and Stellan Skarsgard, members of the original cast, talked about how great it was to get into the swing of the music, outfits, and dancing. “You have no idea how much spandex flatters your genitals,” stated Skarsgard, enthusiastically. After a moment’s pause, Brosnan affirmed, “This is a movie that I shall forever cherish in my heart. It was magical to do it ten years ago, and it’s incredible to go around the world and to see the joy it brought to people’s lives. And to have that in your career, to have that gift, inspires nothing but gratitude, really.” “I showed up for work on the first day and there was beautiful Julie, and Christine, and about 200 dancers in the olive groves, and five or six cameras,” Brosnan continues. “And it was Dancing Queen and you just had to dance, and Amanda was in front, and Ol said “Ok well, just dance” and the next thing I knew I was skipping. I was skipping for weeks on end, and I tried various variations of skipping, but in the end it was just good old Irish skipping. And that’s it; you’ve got to throw yourself into this. You cannot be shy. It was brilliant, and just the warmth of everybody and the friendships that have been created, from the first movie to this movie, is just wonderful to see. And this man here, Ol, gave us all the space and the place to be ourselves and enjoy the moment.” Meanwhile, “It was a great privilege really [to be serenaded by Cher],” said Andy Garcia. “We’re all such huge fans of Cher, not only as a singer but an actress, so when they approached me to be a part of it I was very excited. I learned shortly after that Cher had picked me out of a bunch, so that was doubly a blessing for me – I have such respect for her. All the people in the cast – some of them were old friends like Stellan, and some of them were people I’ve admired throughout my life, so I’m blessed to be here.” “It’s funny seeing Andy now, knowing that he’s Fernando,” Ulvaeus chimes in. “I conjured up that guy fourty years ago, lying on my jetty looking at a starry sky, writing about Fernando the freedom fighter, and right now Andy is him.” Asked further about working with Cher, Garcia continued to praise the singer and actress. “Cher is extremely down to earth. One of the things I’ve always found attractive about her, even in her early days of television – she always showed an extraordinary talent as an actress – but her sense of humour, the dryness in her sense of humour to me is so engaging, and she has that – she’s so present in life, she’s so aware of everything, and her commentary on things is very funny.” This sequel, rather than being filmed in Greece as the first one was, was actually done in Croatia. When asked about why, Parker said that “It wasn’t my decision, it was above my pay grade. It was an economic decision, and a shame I think. I think the one thing Greece really needs at the moment is an injection of money and tourism.”
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