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Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Return to the Magical Greek Island of Kalokairi

Cast: Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Dominic Cooper, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Christine Baranski, Cher ., Andy Garcia, Stellan Skarsgård
Director: Ol Parker
Genre: Musical
Rated: PG
Running Time: 114 minutes

Synopsis: Get ready to sing and dance, laugh and love all over again. Ten years after Mamma Mia! The Movie grossed more than $600 million, you're invited to return to the magical Greek island of Kalokairi in an all-new original musical based on the songs of ABBA. With the film's original cast returning and new additions including Lily James, Andy Garcia and Oscar® winner Cher.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Release Date: July 19th, 2018

About The Production

Past Meets Present: Introduction to the Story

In 1979, high-spirited and courageous Young Donna Sheridan (James), Young Tanya (Wynn) and Young Rosie (Davies)"aka Donna and The Dynamos"graduate from Oxford University, and Donna joyfully embarks on her adventures through Europe to fulfill her destiny on the Greek island of Kalokairi.

On her journey, she makes the acquaintance of three attractive young men"including Young Harry (Skinner), who has been posted in Paris to swot up on the "European ways," and Young Bill (Dylan) who offers to take Donna to the island on his sailboat. Once there, she comes across Young Sam (Irvine), who seems as heroic as he is handsome, and she promptly falls blissfully head-over-heels-in-love.

Donna's happiness is palpable and infectious. Her mind set to make this magical island her new home, she finds a singing job in the local taverna and shelter in a ramshackle farmhouse. However, when she discovers Sam is engaged to another woman, Donna's heart is broken. Tanya and Rosie swoop in to save their friend, but it turns out she doesn't need rescuing. As she waves them goodbye, Donna's optimism is restored in the knowledge she is expecting a child.

In the present day on Kalokairi, Sophie Sheridan (Seyfried), with the support of Sam (Brosnan), her step-father"and one of her three possible biological dads"has dedicated herself to fulfilling Donna's (Streep) dream of renovating the taverna. Sophie plans to transform it into the magnificent Hotel Bella Donna in her honor.

Donna's greatest friends, Tanya (Baranski) and Rosie (Walters), arrive on the island for the lavish grand opening but Sophie's hotel manager, Señor Cienfuegos (Garcia), warns that a terrible storm is approaching. Sophie is distraught as the wind and rain pound the island, her opening party plans in tatters. To make matters worse, all transport is down.

As Rosie and Tanya struggle to lift Sophie's spirits, the skies clear and a miraculous, glorious flotilla comes sailing through the sparkling waters toward the island. On board are north of 150 fishermen ready to celebrate along with Bill (Skarsgård), Harry (Firth) and Sophie's boyfriend, Sky (Cooper). The joyous reunion is crowned by the surprise arrival of her long absent, dazzling grandmother Ruby (Cher).

Standing outside the Hotel Bella Donna where it all began, Sophie's connection to her mother has never felt so strong. With the colorful celebration in full swing, surrounded by music and those she loves most in the world, Sophie reveals that she and Sky have a secret of their own to share...

The Joy of It All: Development of the Film

It is difficult to believe, but it has actually been 10 years since the ground-breaking success of Mamma Mia! The Movie, which was produced by Judy Craymer and Gary Goetzman. Craymer"producer and creator of the global smash-hit musical Mamma Mia!"sets up the premise of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again: "Both the musical and the first film is a story of family and friendship, and believing in yourself. In Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, we continue the emotional journey of our story while also discovering how those life-changing relationships formed and had such a profound impact on Donna, The Dynamos, Sophie and her possible dads.

"The story of Mamma Mia! feels more relevant than ever, and audiences really have a deep affection for the story, the show, ABBA's music and the first film," she continues. "The songs and story take you on an emotional journey with music that is magical and irresistible."

It was important to Craymer and producer Goetzman that they not rush a story. Craymer recounts: "The evolution of 'Mamma Mia' has always been an organic one, and we'd always loved the idea of a second movie. Without any kind of cynicism, we've gone back to the origins of the musical, as there was a foundation there that worked so well. We'd always discussed the backstory of how Donna and The Dynamos formed in college and how Donna found her destiny on the island. This was the jumping-off point for how we came upon the storyline of a prequel and a sequel in one."

As a long-time admirer of Richard Curtis' work, Craymer approached him about expanding the back-story of Mamma Mia!. "Richard came up with the storyline and suggested I meet with Ol Parker as a possible screenwriter," says the producer. "It was in my conversations with Ol that I knew he understood the journey we wanted to take with this story that was full of joy and big emotions"as the characters are dealing with real-life issues of marriage, death and birth."

While the development process to ensure any sequel would dovetail well with the first film was extensive, Goetzman and Craymer felt strongly that there were other tales to tell. "When you see Mamma Mia!, there are stories that you think, 'Wow, could that be elaborated on a bit?' We thought it would be a good idea to show our beloved characters in a younger time, when the story of the first film actually began. Along with that, we have a narrative about the original characters and what's happened in their lives."

Parker was mindful of the original architects of the first movie. "It was obviously the biggest thing in the world, and that's both terrifying and thrilling," he notes. "Thrilling because it means we get to have fun, and terrifying because there's a level to match up to."

Reflecting on her delight upon reading Parker's script, Craymer offers: "When Ol delivered the first draft of his screenplay, it was a special time. I instantly knew it was right. There are heart-breaking moments, but it also very much embraced the empowerment of women."

Then there was the difficult task of finding the ideal director, a decision that producers Craymer and Goetzman labored over for some time. Craymer offers: "We'd spoken to several but had an instinctive feeling that Ol, even though he hadn't directed a musical, should be the director. We were thrilled when he agreed."

Parker was delighted to be directing on a project with Craymer and Goetzman, commenting: "I've known Gary for 20 years. He produced a movie that my wife was in some time ago, and he's been my friend for a long time. Judy was my friend about 30 seconds after meeting her, and she's Mamma Mia!'s godmother. She's been joyous and nothing but supportive."

"Ol is the hardest-working director I've ever known," praises Goetzman. "He brings a calm, creative approach to directing, and yet, instills everyone with an energy and passion for the film they're making."

Based on Johnson's book for the musical and her screenplay for Mamma Mia! The Movie, Curtis worked closely with Parker on the story for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. For Curtis"who also serves as executive producer on this film"his love affair with this world began many years prior. "I first saw Mamma Mia! The Movie on a rainy day in Cromer, Norfolk; the theater was completely full, and we emerged feeling we'd had a summer holiday in just two hours. That is what this is. It is a mainstream injection of joy and optimism"with an undertone of feminist enthusiasm, passion and strength."

The writer talks about a fitting inspiration for a story about family: "This came from a conversation with my rather brilliant 22-year-old daughter. I asked if she had any ideas for Mamma Mia! 2, and she said it was obvious: It should be flashback to explore how Donna met the three possible fathers during the summer of '79, cut into the present day with Sophie. Then there is a whole cycle of motherhood linking the two."

Curtis absolutely understands why audiences are drawn to Mamma Mia!. "I'm a massive pop fan and therefore a massive ABBA fan. They are one of the great bands of all time"perfect tunes and often deep and emotional lyrics. If you want a song about splitting up"is there anything better than 'Knowing Me, Knowing You'?"

Long-time collaborators, Curtis and Parker began the process of mapping out the story for the sequel/prequel. "I went to stay with him, which was a joyous thing anyway and every morning we'd sit in his caravan and pin up all the ABBA songs that we liked on the wall," explains Parker. "Then, we tried to figure out a way to zigzag from one to the other. We would also try to make each other laugh, which was the main challenge."

It's difficult to say who the bigger ABBA fan between the two is. "Richard Curtis has an encyclopaedic knowledge of ABBA, which defeats even mine," Parker laughs. That would inform the narrative of the film. "We both know their music so well, sometimes we'd consider using a song as a way to get into a scene, others we'd find a way to put a song into a scene."

For Parker, whose background as a screenwriter allowed him the foresight to imagine what would and wouldn't work, the concept of a prequel/sequel felt ideal. "From the back story of the three possible fathers, how Young Donna becomes Donna and finds her way to the island"even how the dungarees originate"all of those things just seemed like a gift. They're all these moments where you can create symmetry, and it can lend an emotional resonance to uh Sophie's story."

Goetzman was impressed by the number of "hidden treasures" that the screenplay placed all over the film. "In writing Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Ol and Richard brought in these little connections, nods and winks to the first film. As in Mamma Mia!, the songs in this film come at just the right time and evoke the perfect feeling for the scene."

Godfathers of Mamma Mia! Andersson and Ulvaeus Collaborate

Sharing her excitement for the next installment of the Mamma Mia! story, Craymer reflects on the great enthusiasm that comes from all-things ABBA: "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again has been a joyous experience for everyone"featuring a one-of-kind ensemble, great storytelling and music from ABBA that will take audiences on an emotional and joyous journey." For the producer, this experience springs from the brilliance of her collaborators: "Benny and Björn are geniuses, and ABBA's music is a gift to the world."

Goetzman has known ABBA's Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus for years, and also like many, has been a fan of their music for much longer. When considering a follow-up film, the producer never worried that there wouldn't be enough material. "ABBA's music is so full and rich that even their songs that you don't know as well are incredible. So many of their songs were huge hits internationally, and there are many we didn't use in the first picture. It's a beautiful musical landscape that Benny and Björn have laid out for us, and we take full advantage of it."

Andersson and Ulvaeus serve as executive producers, as well as providing music and lyrics. Ulvaeus also has a cameo as a university professor for the opening number when Young Donna and The Dynamos perform at graduation ceremonies at Oxford. Ulvaeus recalls that the particular song has always had a special place in his heart, and he discusses releasing it in the mid-'70s: "'When I Kissed the Teacher' was written as early as 1975, at a time when we thought any song could only last two years, so it is funny to return to it now. It is a youthful-sounding, energetic song, and it is absolutely perfect to kick the off the film."

Sharing how it feels to witness songs given a whole new lease on life by the Young Dynamos, Ulvaeus reflects: "To see these young people singing these numbers in a movie is so humbling, and I've loved every moment. The uncanny thing about "When I Kissed the Teacher" is that it fits this scene in the movie perfectly."

The Mamma Mia! show and movies have given ABBA music a relevance no one ever could've imagined. "After the first movie, I never thought there would be another one because it would be so difficult to find the right songs to weave into the story, and I wasn't sure there would be the right material," Ulvaeus adds. "When Judy called with the idea she'd been working with Ol Parker and Richard Curtis, I thought immediately that it sounded interesting and we should give it a go. I have always been an admirer of their films, and the way that Richard treats music in Love Actually and Four Weddings is wonderful. They understand music and what it can do within a film."

Andersson and Ulvaeus first met producer Craymer in the '80s, and later she approached them about producing a stage show featuring their music. "We weren't convinced, but then she came up with a script by Catherine Johnson," explains Andersson. We liked the way the narrative had been carried through by our songs to move the story forward. We were and still are very protective of our music. We set up a company with her so that if we wanted to pull the plug we could; we are lucky we didn't!"

When the idea of a follow-up film came about, Andersson was again hesitant but remained opened to exploration. "The first movie was a tremendous success and such a good film that we weren't sure another one could work," he states. "It is wonderful that all the cast are back, and that felt good. What is nice is that I got to go back into the studio again and work with the old boys in the band, record all these songs that are not in the first film and"unless you are a hard-core ABBA fan"you may not know them yet."

Discussing the songs chosen for the movie, Andersson says: "They are all good in different ways. "When I Kissed the Teacher" is great fun and uplifting. "My Love, My Life" is a song from 1973, which is quite beautiful and comes at the end of the movie."

On working with the A-list cast list of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, he laughs that it took actors and singers alike a bit of adjustment: "We are used to it now. It was a little weird 10 years ago having Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth come into the studio. They were as tense as we were. It takes a minute to realize we're not dangerous; we all just want to do this as well as we can. Once everyone understands, it's a piece of cake. They trust me, I trust them and we just start working."

That collaboration permeated the production. Goetzman says: "ABBA's songs are the ultimate, magical earworms. Once you hear them, you can't get them out of your mind. They won't go away, but you never get sick of them. You can't help but feel happy when you hear those songs. ABBA's music is timeless. It appeals to generation after generation, in any setting"I don't care if it's a dance floor, your car or in the bathtub. ABBA rules."

Finding Young Donna: Lily James Joins

When it came to casting the part of Young Donna, the filmmakers knew whomever they chose would have some very big overalls to fill. Lily James, known for her astonishing work in films from Baby Driver and Cinderella to her star-making turn in Downton Abbey, takes the character to an unexpected level. "Lily embodied the spirit of Donna; she was minxy and perfect to play her," raves Craymer. "I know she had a long hard think before taking the role because playing a younger Meryl Streep is a challenge for any actress, but she immersed herself in the idea. This was a chance to work on a beloved musical, and Lily has a pure, beautiful voice."

While it was of course important to the filmmaking team that their Young Donna remind audiences quite a bit of the Donna we know and love, mirror image was never crucial to the production. Goetzman explains just what James accomplishes: "Lily transcends whether you think she looks exactly like Meryl or doesn't; that doesn't matter. She's a tour-de-force, and what a singing voice!"

Ulvaeus worked extensively with James in pre-production and was astonished by what he experienced with the performer. "Lily came to Stockholm to record her songs for the movie. We had seen her on videos and heard her sing but we didn't know she was such a fantastic talent, so that was a wonderful surprise," he notes. "As a lyricist, I'm particularly happy because she is a natural storyteller in her singing, which is not that common. The way she treats our songs is a delight to hear."

Andersson was particularly impressed by James and Seyfried in the recording studio. "Lily can sing so well; she is such a sweet woman and really wonderful, which is good because she has a lot to accomplish in this movie. Amanda also has a lovely voice. When she sings 'I've Been Waiting for You,' it is a beautiful moment."

To have the support of producers and ABBA frontmen alike meant everything to James. Still, the number-one nod of approval she needed was from Donna herself. Meryl Streep shares that she was deeply moved by James' interpretation of the character. "I knew Lily from Downton Abbey, where she plays a demure blonde with a naughty tinge to her character, and I thought, 'She's perfect.' But then when I saw the film, I had no idea that she had these singing chops and was such a fantastic performer and dancer. Her spirit is what I hope Young Donna was; she really captured it."

Streep appreciated the character study James had given Donna, and loved that the young actress had watched Mamma Mia! The Movie at least 10 times in preparation to step on set. She even had Donna's signature hands-in-overalls move down pat. "Lily has that dancing energy in her voice," reflects the performer. "There are some people who stand there and sing, and there are some people who sing from the bottom of their feet and shake the rafters. She's amazing, and did a great job."

James found the opportunity both thrilling and challenging: "This is such a huge role to take on because Donna as a character is so beloved, and Meryl Streep is the best actress of all time. I couldn't have been more excited. The life, power and the spirit of that woman is so intoxicating. I have loved the opportunity to show who Donna was before the point that Meryl takes over, before she has her heart broken by Sam and before she was left on the island with a baby."

James first saw Mamma Mia! in the West End when she was a child. "I loved Mamma Mia! so much when I was growing up because the music is just mind-blowing. The more you listen to it, the more you love it. You know the songs so well, but woven into this story are characters that you fall in love with"who are all so imperfect, colorful and full of life. It is an unconventional story, fun and unapologetic."

Telling the story of Donna back when she "used to have fun," James says of her character: "You see Young Donna as she is leaving University in Oxford. You get a real insight into her diary, following this flighty girl who wants to see the world and isn't satisfied with the norm. She wants to break free and find herself. You see her meet these three men and the journey that ultimately makes her the Donna we all know and love."

The opening musical number for James is "When I Kissed the Teacher," introducing the audience to the Young Dynamos. "We start the film with Donna, who is the first woman ever to be a valedictorian at Oxford," explains the actress. "She is giving a speech to her peers and breaks out into song…causing total anarchy. There is a real spirit of rebellion between these three young women as they give the gig of their lives, strip out of their robes and dance around the teachers. The Dynamos are the original girl-power band, and you are flung right into the heart of the girl group."

When she considers the integration of the ABBA songs into the storyline, James notes: "Many of the songs have a different feel to them. The filmmakers have taken what you know, turned it on its head and cleverly created new moments. Performing 'Mamma Mia!' felt incredible. I just pretended I was a pop star. The music and the songs are a gift, and I'm so lucky and grateful to have been able to sing them with all the joy, passion and mayhem they deserve."

Parker can't rave enough about his lead actress' skillset, and was particularly moved by her work"alongside the two Young Dynamos"on the opening sequence. "Young Donna is played gloriously by the rock star that is Lily, and no pun intended, she's just dynamic on screen. 'When I Kissed the Teacher' is the perfect song to kick off the movie"as well as the journey that the girls make. It's banging, kick-arse and brilliant."

Naturally, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is building on the phenomenal success of the previous film, and James respects all that have come before her to make this magic. "This movie has the same feel and tone of Mamma Mia! The Movie. It has the must-have classic ABBA songs you'd expect, but also some less well known songs that are also hits. We are back on Kalokairi and the characters we fell so deeply in love with in the first movie are all back. On top of that, you get to see these characters when they were younger, and there is something heartfelt, funny and satisfying about that."

James talks about her faith in Parker's script and how his directorial style set the tone for the production, both on- and off-screen. "Ol is calm and generous, and that was a nice energy to have on set because Mamma Mia! needs to be joyous and light-hearted. He gave everyone room to feel relaxed and in charge of their own characters, to let the moments, the songs and the scenes play out without pressure. I trust that he has given me all I need to make sure Young Donna feels like the right Donna."

Summarizing her experience working on the film, the performer gives: "Making this movie has been a bit like those magical summer holidays you have when you are young and in love and blissfully happy. You think the world can never get better than this, and I know all the other actors feel the same way. We didn't want to leave the island because there is something magical about it. I believe watching the film will feel the same; it is sunny and stunning. Despite yourself, you can't help but be drawn into the joy of it all."

Mamma Mia! Reunites

There would be no follow-up film without the entire returning principal cast, and Craymer and Goetzman were adamant that it had to be all or none. While always hopeful their cast would return, Goetzman is the first to admit it was never a given. "Just because you make a movie that has a lot of success that doesn't necessarily mean everybody wants to get back into Spandex," he says. "But luckily, everyone did."

Sophie & Sky
We return to the island and find that Sophie and Sky are in a much different place than where we last left them. On the development of Sophie as a character, Curtis reflects: "In the first film, there is absolutely no doubt that she is a child trying to come out of her mother's shadow. In this film, you have Sophie as a woman who is trying to do the right things and make the same kind of decisions that her mother made"ones that are courageous and bold."

Returning to the role of Sophie, Amanda Seyfried talks of her affinity for the character: "It is a special opportunity to come back and play Sophie. In the first movie I was just 21; it was one of my first big films, and I was genuinely playing myself from the first day to the end credits. We are coming back 10 years later in reality, but in the story it is about half of that"so not so much has changed for Sophie as it has for me. The glee is still very much alive and perhaps even more so."

"When I read the script, I was completely blown away," adds Seyfried. "Ol has created such depth with new dynamics and character arcs that are realistic. When the music stops, you have to deal with things that are sometimes heart-breaking and then the music starts again. That is life, and there are a lot of messages in this story. I can't think of a better way to continue Mamma Mia!"

Fortunately for the audience, Seyfried has a number of ABBA songs to perform in the follow-up film. "Discussing why she is excited for audiences to experience Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, the actress takes a moment. "We are back on a crazy beautiful island, ABBA is back in my life and I have a completely new appreciation of their music; there are songs I never knew I loved so much. I can't believe what I'm about to say, but this movie is bigger, better and more spectacular than the original. I didn't see it coming, but boy am I ever glad."

Her on-screen mother reflects on what Seyfried accomplishes in this chapter: "Amanda brings something to this incarnation of Mamma Mia! that's very special," offers Streep. "She's the heartbeat of the film. Her emotion carries the whole story forward, and she really moved me. I think she's magic. Plus, she's got a cracking great voice, and she gets to use it more in this film."

Dominic Cooper returns to the role of Sky, Sophie's boyfriend, and the duo sings "One of Us" together; that sequence stands out to the actor. "The song is about two people who are just not right for each other and are having a tough time. Sky and Sophie are thinking about breaking up. It doesn't feel like it is going to work out, so it's a great duet. I've never heard the song this way before, and it gives it a new life."

Making his welcome return to the role, Cooper talks about revisiting the character 10 years after the first film was released. "Even though you don't think about them every day, there is a part of every character you have played inside of you. With Sky, it is clear what his role is, and I felt comfortable going back. It was like putting on an old comfy pair of shoes. It is a joy to be back in the environment, seeing these people and being back on the incredible set that was rebuilt for this production."

Commenting on what the new film is bringing to fans of Mamma Mia!, he shares: "There is certainly more going on in terms of emotional content and journey. The character arcs are great, and it is funny. The music, along with the dialogue that springs to life, is so compelling. It has been exciting to watch it all unfold."

Cooper walks us through where we find Sophie and Sky: "We've gone our separate ways to embark on our careers. Sophie is trying to renovate her mother's villa, and Sky has gone to New York to learn hotel management. At the beginning of the movie, there is a phone call that suggests I won't be coming to the opening of her wonderful hotel she has been working on for so long. We have an argument that could possibly be the end of the relationship."

The performer has spent much of the past decade talking with fans about just what ABBA means to all of us. "You cannot deny this is about their music," Cooper notes. "It is pop music at its best. It was more successful than anything at the time and is still listened to and enjoyed today. That is the genius of Judy Craymer in creating this in the first place. Hearing this music enlivens people and makes you feel joyous. This film has a different taste; it is not trying to replicate something we have done before. The music is wonderful, it is affecting, and it takes you on an emotional journey."

Summarizing the essence of the film, Cooper says: "This is a story about life. It's about generations, success and failure"romance, friendships, and how important work is in our lives. Seeing people making mistakes and watching how they move forward. All this coincides with moving lyricism, which lifts up the story with a wonderful joy."

Donna and The Dynamos
When discussing what it was like to slip on those comfy Donna overalls, Streep laughs: "It was like going home, walking onto the set and seeing Colin, Stellan, Pierce, Christine, Julie, Dominic and Amanda"all of them, and their bright shining faces. Everybody took a big gulp and asked ourselves, 'what have we stepped in to?' But the music starts up and you put on the spandex…and honey, it all comes together."

Streep reflects that it is the unexpected kindness in ABBA's music that keeps the artists' work so relatable to so many. That extends from their storied career to the stage show and the movies. "There's an element in Benny and Björn's music that is so tender. Its sweetness is real and emotional," the actress offers. "The emotional lines of the music and the lyrics blend perfectly."

When discussing her hopes for audiences who experience the new film on the screen, Streep pauses, offering: "I just hope they have the feeling I did when I saw it, which was just elation. I want them to come out as happy as I was when I saw it. Delivering happiness is something that's very rare in this world, and the fact is that this gang of people came together to do it. If we deliver joy, that's all I ask."

Donna's dearest friends, Tanya and Rosie, join Sophie on the island to attend the grand opening of the Hotel Bella Donna. For the three actresses, this longtime-coming reunion was so very welcome. Seyfried explains their reconnection song: "Sophie is fretting over Sky not calling her back because of a fight; Tanya and Rosie are telling me of their past relationships, and we sing 'Angel Eyes.' We are all relating to each other, and it is fun. I also sing 'I've Been Waiting for You' with Rosie and Tanya. It's a moving song about grief and love"it's just beautiful and very Dynamo-esque."

Returning to the role of Rosie, Julie Walters reintroduces us to her character, and lets us know where we find her: "Rosie is a television cook and writer. She is unattached and her love life hasn't been brilliant over the years. But she is warm and down to earth, a bit clumsy and puts her foot in it on occasion. Her best friends are Donna and Tanya; we're a bit of a threesome, and we make up the Dynamos.

"In the present day, Donna's daughter has returned to the Greek Island to rebuild her mother's hotel in her honor," the actress continues. "We all go back to the island for the opening, and it is announced during that time that Sophie is pregnant. Everything comes together, like it does in Mamma Mia! The Movie. Bill, played by Stellan, was my love interest on the first film. We have had a bit of a rocky time, but we get back together. It's a bit like Shakespeare"everyone ends up with a partner in the end."

For Walters, being so familiar with the character was a great head start in getting into the role. "It is lovely to revisit something because we know who we are playing and how we interact with each other. We have all worked together before, and sang some of the songs we've sung in the past. For 'Dancing Queen,' I thought I wouldn't remember how to sing it but the moment I heard the melody on the piano, my harmony just came straight back into me. It was quite extraordinary."

Commenting on what is in store for the cinema audience, Walters"who actually had to duck out of a morning of shooting in order for the Queen to anoint her Dame Walters!"says: "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is going to be a special journey. It's about love and life. It's utterly uplifting and moving. People will want to dance in the aisles, just like they did in the first one, but I think they will be even more engaged with the characters. This movie has so much depth to it, whilst still being so much fun."

Just as much of a scene stealer as Walters, Christine Baranski resumes her role of Tanya. An exciting aspect of the film is how the next installment will introduce Mamma Mia! to a new generation. "This is going to bring a whole new audience to the fairytale, the magic and mythology of Mamma Mia!," Baranski proclaims. "This movie can stand on its own even if you haven't seen the original, but it will lead people to re-watch the first one. Also, it is a prequel, so you have young, hot actors and actresses playing our younger selves. There is a nice balance between the familiar and the new."

As one of the original members of the Mamma Mia! family, Baranski comments on the creator and producer of the franchise: "Judy Craymer is the soul of Mamma Mia! She is the coolest lady. You will never hear her raise her voice. She brings all these amazing people together and never seems to break a sweat. Judy almost sold her kitchen sink to get the original [stage show] made; she just totally believed in it and wouldn't give up on it as an idea. The fact that it is an international mega-hit and now this iconic musical is wonderful. She is the mamma in Mamma Mia!. I love and adore her."

Recalling her reaction to the screenplay, Baranski was pleasantly surprised with the format. "They did something extraordinarily clever. It's a prequel so you get to see Donna and her girlfriends as young women, and you get to see how all those love affairs happened. That means you have three beautiful young women and three talented, handsome young men on motorcycles and boats in beautiful locations. Then you catch up with Sophie and the legacy cast you are so familiar with from the last movie. For fans, they will just be so happy and moved by this fantastic reunion."

Once Tanya arrives back on Kalokairi with Rosie to stay with Sophie and attend the grand opening of the Hotel Bella Donna, we realise the best parts of her remain unchanged. "Tanya has gone through at least one more husband, so she is single, just three times divorced instead of twice," Baranski laughs. "She is still on the hunt for a man, still wearing her foxy outfits, still in heels that don't quite work on the cobbled streets of Kalokairi. She is the same lady but there is a happily ever after for all the characters, even Tanya."

"Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is like stepping onto a beautiful boat and sailing away from the shore with all the darkness of the world left behind you," Baranski concludes. "You take a journey with these characters"mothers, daughters, fathers, young lovers"and along the way you hear all these wonderful songs that make you feel good. It is happy, sexy, sensuous, positive and utterly optimistic about life. It is everything people need to feel about the world right now."

Our Three Dads
Pierce Brosnan returns to the role of Sam Carmichael, Sophie's stepfather and one of her possible biological fathers. Thinking about the next chapter, Brosnan appreciates that the filmmakers took their time. "They hit the proverbial nail on the head with the idea of doing a prequel and a sequel," he gives. "They had enough ABBA material and a wonderful story. There is joy in abundance throughout the film. ABBA fans will know all the tracks, but for many people there will be some great surprises."

The first film holds such a special place in Brosnan's mind, as well as in his storied career. "As an actor, these projects don't come around often," he muses. "The first one was so joyous and brilliant; it caught everyone by surprise. The music of Mamma Mia! is effervescent and full of joy. ABBA created such a tapestry of love that connected with people's lives, then and now."

In Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, we find Sam and Sophie living on the Greek island of Kalokairi. "Sam has become Sophie's dad since the first movie," Brosnan explains. "She accepts me as her step-father, knowing that she has two other dads in her life who love and adore her as well. Sam and Sophie have been living on the island renovating the hotel to its former glory. It is a very tender, loving relationship."

When discussing the leadership of his director and collaborators, Brosnan is highly complimentary: "Ol has a deep well of humanity and understanding; he has a great sense of the material and what works comedically. Plus, he is wise enough to let everyone get on with what they do. He has got a magnificent cast, a masterful cinematographer, and the crew"many of whom I have worked with before"are all seasoned technicians. Once you get a good team, the script is right and the storyline straight, then you can just sit back and let it unfold. He was a delight to work with."

Brosnan gives a tease of where we find key members of the Mamma Mia! family: "Meryl comes back in the most glorious fashion. It is a poignant moment in the film, and it is going to be all-embracing. It will have a deep resonance with mothers and daughters. The song she sings is a beautiful piece of poetry with a gorgeous melody. It will work wonders."

Parker was perhaps most surprised by the amount of tenderness the words he wrote for Brosnan and Seyfried delivered when he saw the two actors bring them to life on screen. "The moments between Pierce and Amanda are almost my favorite in the movie," the writer/director proclaims. "They are very close off-screen as well. Pierce is the loveliest man and the loveliest father, and Amanda's a sweetheart. They're just very tight; they laugh a lot together, but they're very tender."

It's the juxtaposition between the film's celebration of pure joy and its ability to process loss that so enchants audiences. "These two characters are united in their grief, which is a very bonding thing," continues Parker. "They're immensely moving together and were moving off screen. These were lovely days to shoot."

Of the returning and new cast members joining him on the show, Brosnan was unabashedly enthused. "When they said Meryl was doing it, I was in. Then everyone else came to play, too"Colin, Stellan, Dominic, Amanda, Christine and Julie. Andy is also joining us, which is a brilliant piece of casting, and of course Cher. To stand on a sound stage and see Cher sitting talking to Amanda was quite surreal. I have always loved Cher; her versatility, the way she has dealt with her life and the sheer talent she possesses."

Fortunately, Stellan Skarsgård also returns"back as Bill, one of Sophie's other possible fathers. The performer recalls his reaction on hearing a sequel was in the works: "We had such a great time on the first movie and filming is such a social activity, so I looked forward to the next one."

Echoing Brosnan, Skarsgård was impressed by the flavor Parker brought to the production. "Ol was lovely to work with; there was no stress, and it was a pleasant set to be on. My hope is that this movie has that charming core of imperfection and generosity the first one had…so the audience feels they are invited into the fun."

Returning to the familiar role, he notes that it was warming to find out what an old friend was up to: "Bill is a writer of travel books. He is a cheerful guy, not yet married and he doesn't have any children. I believe him to have been a pretty wild bachelor. In this film, we learn if he finally consolidates a relationship with Rosie, which was hinted at in the last film."

Skarsgård shares an iconic scene with his fellow performers, in which they arrive on Kalokairi, amongst a flotilla, singing and dancing to "Dancing Queen." The performer recalls shooting the pivotal scene: "I love the sea, so it felt fantastic. It was beautiful weather, a stunning island, a lot of people dancing around to ABBA music. Just incredible."

Being reunited with legacy cast was a treat for Skarsgård, and it's difficult for him to narrow his compliments to just a few. "Amanda is a smart, fun, brave young actress, and she sings like a goddess. Julie is fantastic, and I'm pleased to kiss her in this movie. Not only is she a fantastic actress, she is also funny and generous. It was a great bunch to be working with; everybody laughed a lot; they are self-depreciating, fun people."

Joining his brothers in arms, Colin Firth returns to the role of Harry, rounding out the trio of Sophie's possible fathers. He recalls his thoughts on being approached to appear in the sequel: "To still be a part of this world has never stopped surprising me. I have never been someone to boast of dance moves or a singing voice. To be required to do both with no one seeming to mind how well you do it is quite wonderful." He pauses. "There is nothing more liberating that abandoning your dignity."

A major factor in his decision to join the sequel was the opportunity to be reunited with Brosnan and Skarsgård. "I've rarely had so much fun as I did on the last film, and it has been the same on this one. There is a sense of a family reunion. Being nervous about something in the company of other nervous people is a bonding experience that has sealed a few friendships on this.

"My first experience of Pierce and Stellan was at a pre-record with Benny 10 years ago," the performer continues. "I went into the studio not terribly optimistic about my singing talents, and frankly terrified. Looking in their eyes and seeing the spirals of terror was like looking in a mirror. A few moments later we were standing around a microphone, the three of us delivering 'Su-pa-pa Trou-pa-pa.' That will either make or break a relationship…and here we go again."

Explaining where we find his character in the new installment, Firth offers: "Harry seems to have been single most of his life. When we meet him in the first film, he is a guy in a suit that really looks like he needs to loosen up; he needs a bit of ABBA. The experience of coming to the island and meeting Sophie and making these friends is what he needed. At the end of the first film, he even finds a boyfriend. At the beginning of this movie, we find him back in the boardroom and he clearly can't bear it. Sophie's call inspires him to shake off those shackles again."

Super Troupers: Newcomers to the Family

Young Dynamos

Once Lily James was cast, the producers had the challenge of finding the younger players. "It was a huge challenge, but a lot of fun to cast the younger versions of our principle characters," shares Craymer. "Each one had to have something very special. We chose Alexa Davies to play Julie Walters, and it turns out she is a huge fan and has watched absolutely everything Julie has been in"she embodies her."

The friendship between Young Donna, Young Rosie and Young Tanya is beyond charming, and James easily identified with the trio. "The relationship between Donna and The Dynamos just captures the feeling I have with my best mates," notes the performer. "When you are together with your girls, nothing can stop you and there is such a sense of power, strength and rebellion. Plus Alexa and Jess are absolutely hilarious; they are so supremely talented that they blow my mind."

"Straight away they became brilliant friends," Parker offers. "They were all laughing from the first time they met and dancing together. That's so infectious. They would get off screen and carry on chatting and hanging out."

"Jessica Keenan Wynn is a great personality," Craymer adds. "She has a dry martini wit and would hire a car and take herself off to visit the sites on her days off. She is not only Tanya, she is also really Christine Baranski."

Keenan Wynn introduces the character whom we've grown to adore: "Tanya is the sassiest of the three Dynamos. She is the one that if the girls wanted to ask a cute boy out, Tanya would have no qualms to just go straight up to him, grab his face and smack a good one on him. This movie shows the dynamic of their friendship and how they're bonded together. They each have moments when they need one to lift the other up, and it is lovely to see the beginning of that friendship."

Portraying the younger version of Baranski's Tanya, Keenan Wynn studied Mamma Mia! The Movie as rigorously as James. "I watched the movie over and over throughout the audition process," notes the actress. "What I took away from it was the relationship between Tanya and Rosie because they are together for most of it. Their dynamic informs my character; it's like a game of basketball. Tanya takes the ball and passes it back to Rosie, then she hands it back to Tanya. Two of my favorite scenes are when Tanya and Rosie arrive by boat. Rosie scoots in and feels right at home, while Tanya is trying to be ladylike but looks into a basket of fish and screams. The other scene is when they sing 'Chiquitita' to cheer Donna up. Watching the fun and absurdity between Rosie and Tanya is brilliant."

Davies recalls her feelings on discovering that she had been awarded the part in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. "When I got the call to say I'd be playing Young Rosie I cried immediately, mostly at realizing I was going to be part of something as wonderful as Mamma Mia!...but also because playing a young Julie Walters was huge. My version is similar to Julie's, although being younger, my character is a slightly more vulnerable and naïve."

The Young Dynamos got on famously both on and off the screen, she reveals. "I feel so lucky that the two other girls are as lovely and brilliant as they are," Davies raves. "Lily and Jessica are amazing, wonderful people and it made everyone's job so much easier. I love them so much. To go to work and have to get across that I adore these girls? They are my greatest friends, and they both made that really easy. We have just had the greatest time together, and I can't wait to be their friend forever. They are stuck with me."

Just as her on-screen sisters had, when studying for the part, Davies also watched Mamma Mia! The Movie on repeat. "Julie's performance in the first movie is so funny," she commends. "She plays a lot of physical comedy"being a bit achy, and I have definitely taken on some of that. When we were doing the Mamma Mia! number, as soon as we stopped dancing, I tried to look a little uncomfortable and awkward. I've also been working on her accent, which is quite specific because she grew up in Smethwick but had elocution lessons. Becoming Rosie has been a combination of everything."

Young Dads
No stone left unturned, the film gives audiences a chance to fall in love alongside Donna. "Jeremy Irvine stepped into the shoes of Pierce Brosnan as Young Sam, Hugh Skinner plays a young Harry, and there is something about him that is so Colin Firth," notes Craymer. "Josh Dylan plays Young Bill, and he has a wonderful moment in the film when he meets Donna. It must be every actor's dream; he is bronzed and gorgeous. It's 1979, and he sails this fabulous vintage yacht while he sings 'Why Did It Have to Be Me?' It is a huge Busby Berkeley moment for him."

Curious enough, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again marks Jeremy Irvine's second collaboration with director Parker. "Ol is so good at capturing genuine emotion in a story," compliments the actor. "When I read his script, I found it so emotional that it gave me shivers. He discovered a way to show that each of those encounters has a genuine connection. Donna feels for each of these men, and you as the audience fall in love with them, too. That's important because it makes the idea that all three become Sophie's dads lovely."

Reflecting upon the story of who Sam was when he first met Donna on the island, Irvine gives: "Young Sam is a guy who has got his life all set up at home and has come to this island to cut loose and get away from the office job. He stays in a shack, lives off pretty much nothing and rides his motorbike around. He is living the dream before it all goes wrong for him."

Early on, Parker told Irvine it was important we fall in love with each of these three guys, especially Sam. The actor supplies: "Sam does something off. He has a fiancée back home, yet he meets Donna and falls hopelessly in love with her. The audience has to understand he does love her and the infidelity doesn't come from a place of him casually playing around."

Josh Dylan tackles the role of Young Bill. "We have already met Bill in Mamma Mia! The Movie," the performer states. "He is active, adventurous and a free spirit, spending a lot of his time on a beautiful sail boat on the sea. I think it is fair to say Bill is afraid of commitment. He is just always exploring. Bill meets Donna when she misses the ferry to the island and offers to give her a ride on his boat. They hit it off and get along so well. One thing leads to another and the next thing you know, they are dancing together on the boat in the middle of the ocean."

What spoke to Dylan was how "Donna and Bill have a special relationship, like the best of friends. They just seem to get each other on a playful level and also as lovers for a brief time. When they first see each other in the film, there is a twinkle in their eyes, and you just know they are kindred spirits. This also comes across in their song 'Why Did It Have To Be Me?;' they are always trying to top each other and show off a bit the way close mates do."

Dylan found the experience of working with James quite joyous: "Lily is beautiful and she looks like Meryl, but what is so great about her performance is that it doesn't feel she is doing an impression. She is bringing her own spirit to the role. Lily has a natural generosity and warmth that has made working with her such a special experience. She is an amazing actress and embodies a playful Young Donna."

Hugh Skinner takes the role of Young Harry in the 1979 portion of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. "When she meets Young Harry, they have a brief love affair in Paris before she jets off to the Greek island," explains Skinner. "He is in the first throes of his career as a banker but quickly falls in love with Donna and"realizing she is about to leave to continue her travels"he decides to seduce her by singing 'Waterloo' in this brilliant sequence."

Tackling the role meant following in the big footsteps of Colin Firth, who plays Harry in the present day. "When I got the part, I watched loads of Colin's films to see what characteristics I could adopt, but all that did was make the task ahead more daunting," Skinner laughs. "I'm excited to be sharing the part with him."

Unfortunately for Skinner, he wasn't able to share the screen with the Young Dynamos. Still, that didn't stop him from learning from his fellow thespians. "I'm actually never in the same scenes as the Young Dynamos, but during the rehearsal period we had this session where we all showed each other what we had been working on. When Lily, Jess and Alexa performed 'Mamma Mia!' for the first time, me and the boys hadn't anticipated how exciting it would be. We were just blown away"screaming like eight year olds."

Andy Garcia and Cher
Andy Garcia takes the role of the enigmatic Señor Cienfuegos. Craymer explains a bit about his part: "Andy plays a mysterious new character. What I love about Ol's script is that we don't just embrace the love affairs of the past movie, we take it even further."

Garcia was thrilled to join the production, and reflects upon the quality of the screenplay: "It was so beautifully written. It is funny, and the songs are extremely romantic and touching. There is celebration and effervescence but also longing, heartbreak and nostalgia. There are all these powerful themes that people have responded to within ABBA's music, and now they are woven into a visual presentation. I feel sure people will embrace it like they did the first movie."

Joining the Mamma Mia! family marks a departure from many of Garcia's more serious roles. Discussing his interest in taking the part, he says: "I enjoy comedies, and over the years I have always looked for the opportunity. In this case there is also the musical element, which I haven't had the chance to do enough in the past. That was an exciting challenge and something I looked forward to putting right."

Garcia appreciated the layers of detail that his screenwriter put into this role. "The English translation of my character's name, Señor Cienfuegos, is '100 fires.' He is the caretaker and manager, sommelier of the Hotel Bella Donna, which is owned by Sophie. He has found solace on this island from a broken heart, but he is a character that gets a surprise in the later years of his life."

On sharing screen time with his brilliant Oscar®-winning scene partner, Garcia was humbled. "I have the extraordinary opportunity and privilege to play with Cher; our characters share a passionate history together that is reawakened. She happens to come to the island because she is Sophie's grandmother, and we sing to each other." He laughs: "Rather, she sings to me, and I join in occasionally."

Legendary musician, singer and actress Cher was welcomed to the cast of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again as Ruby Sheridan, Donna's mother and Sophie's grandmother. "We've never met Donna's mother before," explains Craymer. "She is talked about but never present. We felt this character had to be played by somebody who was the ultimate rock chick"someone who topped everything else. It is a dream to have someone like Cher, who was a fan of the stage show. We aimed high, and it is a thrill having her singing 'Fernando.'"

According to Parker, he wrote the part for Cher, and didn't entertain a casting plan B. "I just refused to contemplate her saying no, and gloriously, she said, 'Yes.' She was more astonishing than I thought she could possibly be…on screen and off. She simply owns 'Fernando;' there's nothing like it. The moment she opened her pipes and started to sing was extraordinary on set."

Curtis reflects on what Cher brings to the role and the Mamma Mia! world: "Cher is one of the legendary stars of pop music, and she is a very fine actress. You can have your cake and eat the whole thing when you have Cher joining your film. She is funny, she can act, she is full of pizzazz and she can sing her socks off. I also love the fact that there has always been this exotic 'Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves' side to Cher, which is why it is so lovely that she is singing 'Fernando,' which is a strange, exotic song, too."

Goetzman sums up the feelings of all who were on set: "There's never been a better pairing of artist and song than Cher and 'Fernando.'"

Cher introduces the character we have heard so much about in the first movie. "Ruby is Donna's mother. She appears out of nowhere and Sophie, her granddaughter, is not particularly happy to see her. Ruby tries to explain what happened in the past and eventually, although she doesn't forgive exactly, Sophie kind of falls in love with Ruby. We fall in love with each other. Ruby and Sophie have some lovely scenes together; my character tries to help Sophie as much as she can with accepting life, death, and the new baby. I'm here for her, and I'm going to stay. She doesn't trust me in the beginning, but I'm a little crazy and she likes that."

Working with Seyfried came naturally to Cher, she states. "It was easy between us. After the first scene in which I bare my soul to Sophie and she buys it against her will, we became close; that continued throughout the shoot."

Her decision to become part of the Mamma Mia! family was an easy one, Cher says. "I have to tell you, I have had so much fun with these people. Julie is the funniest person. Colin, Pierce and Stellan are ridiculous. When Meryl and Amanda are singing a song together in the chapel, they are playing around the whole time just like silly boys."

Collaborating with Parker was enlightening and a pleasure for Cher. "This movie is staggering. We were looking at the sizzle reel the other day, and the artistry is fantastic; it just makes you want to dance."

Perhaps no one on set was more excited than Streep to see a dear friend after too many years apart…especially when they had the chance to sing together at the film's close. "Can you hear the drums Fernando?," the actress muses. "My old friend Cher steals it"shocking, playing my mother of course. She was divine, and it was so much fun to see her. We worked together on Silkwood, I think 36 years ago. Together again! And not the last time."

Singing for Maestros: Music of the Film

Pre-recording of the songs for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again took place at Air Studios in London.

Fortunately for the production, the endless patience and boundless expertise of ABBA's frontmen allowed newcomers and legacy cast alike"as well as Parker"help always at the ready. "Benny and Björn are benevolent godparents," commends the writer/director. "They are lovely. When they read the first draft, they had thoughts, which obviously were right. They listened to and respected us, and they've been nothing but supportive and generous from the beginning. Their notes were entirely correct and musically, lyrically they've helped me out tremendously."

When necessary to drive the narrative forward, Ulvaeus and Andersson worked with Parker to tweak lyrics. "'My Love, My Life' he changed dramatically, and it's far more moving as a result. With 'I've Been Waiting for You," he changed almost completely and it works magnificently. Sophie is singing about her own birth effectively because we are able to cut into it with Lily."

We begin with Cher, who discusses what she feels makes ABBA music so timeless and iconic. "When I used to hear ABBA, although I liked the music, I never listened to the lyrics. I didn't know 'Fernando,' until I started to sing it and I didn't realize how pertinent and emotional that song is. They didn't write from an American or English perspective so the lyrics are arranged differently, and they just grabbed me. I was listening to 'Super Trouper,' and I recognized the girl in the lyrics from the beginning. ABBA knew how to write a story within a song."

Cher talks about the song she shares with Garcia: "'Fernando' is about a man and a woman that knew each other in 1959, during the revolution. They loved each other but became separated. When they are reunited they are old and grey, but the passion is still there. It is a song about people in love during war times that become parted. I think it is beautiful, and we sing it as a ballad."

Performing the song with Garcia was a treat, she offers. "I'm singing to Andy, and he is singing to me. It was just amazing to work with another actor who feels the music and is able to act the song. When you do a music video, you are thinking about the words, but there is nobody there but you. This was as much an acting performance; we are transfixed."

Garcia reflects upon how Cher has given the song her own dynamic. "The melodic structure of the song is the same; it is just that Cher puts her own particular soul into the lyrics. It is a very personal interpretation. She personalizes the song for me and what 'Fernando' means to her. On top of that, Cher is one of the greatest pop singers in our history. Her voice is incredibly distinctive, and when you hear her sing you realize this suits her perfectly."

As Young Donna, James shares a song with each of the three possible dads. She walks us through key introductions: "Donna meets Harry in Paris. They have some very funny scenes and an insane rendition of 'Waterloo.' It is classic ABBA in this wonderful, mad setting. 'Andante, Andante' comes in the film when Donna meets Sam. We have this whirlwind romance. They fall for each other instantly, and Donna sings this to him in the taverna. 'Andante, Andante' is probably my favorite song. It has got a real jazzy, effortless feel to it and it is so sensual. I love where the melody sits in my voice."

Discussing recording her songs in the studio with Andersson, Keenan Wynn was enthused. "The prequel aspect of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is going to introduce a younger audience to ABBA songs. When I met Benny, I was excited to see what that day was going to be like. We went to Air Studios to record the songs before we had even started filming. It was a little daunting but so thrilling when Benny started playing the gorgeous grand piano, and Alexa and I just looked at each other and smiled. What a moment. It was wild."

Describing the tunes she gets to sing in the movie, Keenan Wynn reflects: "The Young Dynamos perform an amazing selection of ABBA songs. We start with 'When I Kissed the Teacher,' which is super-fun and sets off the movie. This song gives us a great springboard with the themes of girl power, sisterly love and female independence. We also do an amazing version of 'Mamma Mia!,' which starts a cappella and is heart-breaking, but then it bursts open and is full-on crazy fun."

The soundtrack features ABBA favorites, as well as the revival of some less well known songs. "I'm so excited for everyone to hear some of the ABBA songs that they won't be familiar with," says Davies. "You just fall in love them immediately. Some classics are 'Waterloo' and 'Dancing Queen' and then you have lovely songs like 'When I Kissed the Teacher,' 'I've Been Waiting for You' and 'My Love My Life,' which is so beautiful."

Cooper was keen to try his voice at "One of Us," a number he shares with Seyfried. "I'm sure most of us have experienced searching and seeking a career out over the heart. This song has a beauty and tranquillity to it, both romantic and sad." His lyricists and composers helped him immensely on the journey. "Benny and Björn are just so excited to be unearthing this work, remastering it and making it slightly different. They are specific with how they want it to sound. They know exactly the harmonies they want to reach, and that is why it is so successful. ABBA music has a special type of melody; they know what the sound needs to be to make it as appealing as it is."

Reflecting upon working so closely with his lyricists, Dylan has found a new appreciation for the material. "ABBA songs are catchy and they appear to be quite simple, but when you sit down with the sheet music and start to sing it, you realize how genius some of their songwriting is. There is a magic about the songs that carries and that people love."

Working with Andersson was also a thrill for Irvine, he gives. "When I came to record the music, I sat there with Benny accompanying me on the piano. It was one of those bizarre moments but also a real honor. Here is the guy who not only wrote the song but he also sang it, so I had to do it justice. He has re-written and re-arranged a lot of these songs to fit the mood of the movie. 'Knowing Me, Knowing You,' for example is such a beautiful, heart-breaking song here.

"'Andante, Andante' is a love ballad and represents the moment Sam falls in love with Donna," Irvine continues. "She gets up and sings for the first time in front of him, and he just melts. It is a gorgeous piece of music."

Those who are returning to Mamma Mia! were thrilled their cast-mates were having a similar experience to the one they were introduced to 10 years prior. Brosnan laughs, recounting some of his pivotal moments from the first film: "When I arrived, I was confronted with Benny and Björn sitting at the piano, and the only thing that gave me comfort was looking at Colin and Stellan"who were equally terrified and pale with shock. However, Benny is just the most magnificent fellow and made it easy for us. He started playing 'S.O.S,' and before you know it you are singing for this great maestro.

For Brosnan, that special moment is reflective of the experiences he had on both productions. "Everyone who is in the Mamma Mia! company has a great sense of humanity; they are egoless, and just there to have a good experience. By the time the cameras roll, you are free to have fun, enjoy yourself and consequently make the audience have a great time."

For her part, Walters sings "Angel Eyes" with Baranski and Seyfried. "In the film, Sophie is having a hard time because Sky isn't answering the phone, so we start to sing. I'm trying to tell her about my experience with Bill but Tanya keeps interrupting me, like friends do. Then Amanda takes over and starts to sing her side of the story. All the ABBA songs have a story-line, and 'Angel Eyes' is about infidelity, getting involved with someone you love and them breaking your heart. I wasn't familiar with the song before, but I loved learning it and the choreography of the number is completely silly.

"Another number Christine and I sing is 'I've Been Waiting for You,' which we also perform with Amanda," the actress continues. "It is a touching song because it is about waiting for your baby to born. It is moving, and Amanda has the voice of an angel, which takes it to a whole new level."

The beautiful and moving song Seyfried shares with Streep and James is "My Love, My Life." Sums Seyfried: "Everyone in the audience will be waiting for this moment, so it is going to be a surprise and a gift. Meryl is a beacon of hope, and this is the point where the story comes full circle."

One of the most poignant moments during the course of production happened on 17 November 2017, when James and Irvine filmed "The Name of the Game." Coincidentally, it was exactly 40 years to the day that this ABBA song was at No. 1 in the pop charts.

Release Your Inner Rocker: Choreography and Dance

No Mamma Mia! production would be complete without the fabulous choreography of Anthony Van Laast. "I have known Anthony forever. He is a great storyteller and has been part of the Mamma Mia! family for 20 years," comments Craymer. "He is a legacy in himself because he choreographed the stage shows, the last movie and returns for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again."

Craymer marvels at the choreographer's ability to bring out the best of actors who aren't necessarily dancers. "He makes people feel they are dancing and makes the audience feel like they could be doing the same moves. He came up with a genius story for the choreography for 'Waterloo,' set in Paris, and it is genius and lots of fun." [Look closely, and you'll see ABBA's Benny Andersson playing the piano at the beginning of the "Waterloo" sequence in the Parisian Café Bonaparte.]

"The script was so exciting," Van Laast beams. "The way Ol Parker threaded the music into the story offered up a lot of staging and choreographic possibilities for me to work with, and when I met him in person we got on so well. I came up with ideas, then Ol did, and we bashed backwards and forwards. It was a very exciting, creative process."

The artist admits that he took a different approach to the choreography on this film, believing that he had to find a new way of looking at each of the numbers. "I can't create a number out of steps. I have to know what the story is, who the people are and their relationship to each other. Also, where we start at the beginning of a number emotionally and dramatically, and where we finish. I have to know all of that, and then the number will evolve."

Van Laast recalls how some of his numbers came together: "'When I Kissed the Teacher' originally had all the students running out of university. I decided I didn't want that because I knew that for 'Dancing Queen,' we'd have the cast running and skipping down the hill. When we thought of graduates in Oxford, we realized they go everywhere on bicycles, so we had them all on bikes ending up with a concert on a barge by the river. Choreographically, I didn't want this piece to be silky smooth because this era was around the punk period. Donna and The Dynamos are contemporary girls, so we gave them a real attitude. Also, it would be correct for them to be wearing platforms, so I choreographed steps that would work with the boots."

Keenan Wynn speaks for her fellow cast when it comes to praise for their indefatigable choreographer: "Anthony is a god," she sums. "'When I Kissed the Teacher' was the most difficult number"we were in platform boots, doing a dance number on a boat"but he worked to our strengths and weaknesses and made them blend together in each routine. He is a ball-buster and incredibly hard-working, but that is the great thing about being a trio. If you start to feel tired, you just look at the other two and their energy, and you can't help but jump back in."

One of the more challenging numbers for the actors involved was "Why Did It Have to Be Me?," a number with quite a Vaudevillian feel to it. "When I read the script, it was set on a yacht and is a flirtation between Young Donna and Young Bill," explains Van Laast. "We played it in a highly exaggerated, stylized way. The challenge of filming it on the sea was extreme because we'd be going up and down on the yacht, and the camera would be doing the same on a different boat. It was exciting and challenging, and I think it will feel original."

Young Bill and Young Donna actually meet because she misses the ferry to the island and jumps on his beautiful yacht instead. "Josh and I filmed the sequence 'Why Did It Have to Be Me?' on the boat in the middle of the sea," recounts James. "It was one of the most brilliant weeks of filming I've ever had. It was scorching hot, the water was crystal clear, and we were singing our hearts out to ABBA. The song has a bluesy, rocky feel, and it is a lovely duet. Bill and Donna are so playful together and they are quite similar, both adventurous, brave and naughty."

Then came "Mamma Mia!," a number Van Laast has designed a number of times in the past. One of the most memorable sequences for audiences, it was crucial for him to look at this in a completely different way. "In the stage show and the first movie, it is a song for Donna. This time it is a song for the Dynamos," he gives. "Working with Lily was exciting because she has a movement background, and movement is in her soul. Also, Jess and Alexa move so well, I was able to raise the bar and keep pushing them to do more and more."

Turning to the legacy cast, Van Laast was thrilled to be working with Baranski and Walters once again. They perform "Angel Eyes" with Seyfried at the Hotel Bella Donna. "I found 'Angel Eyes' hard to do in the beginning," he admits. "I couldn't find a way in there at all. Then Ol came up with the idea that Christine would sing a line, and then Julie would sing a line and so on; that immediately set up the challenge between them. Once I had that idea in my head, I was able to run the number completely. Also, knowing Christine and Julie incredibly well, I knew what they could both bring to the number. They both have such defined styles of movement and are just wonderful to work with. There is a little bit of a competition between the two of them, as well as offering advice to Sophie. It just went 'boom' and flowed right out."

Baranski returns the adoration. "I am not a trained dancer, but Anthony doesn't make you feel bad because the Mamma Mia! idiom is that it has just got to be in your body," she shares. "It is an expression of sensuality, happiness and exuberance. There is no wrong way to do this; just enjoy every moment. That is not do say it is not demanding, but I love that, too. I love the challenge of it. Ultimately, you have to release your inner-rock chick."

Likewise, Walters was delighted to be working with one of her favorite collaborators. "Apart from anything else we have such good fun!," the actress says. "Anthony does push you though; you have got to get dancing, and it is a lot more disciplined than acting. Like all good creatives, Anthony is open to other people's interpretations and ideas, which has been great."

For Goetzman, this sequence proved to be one his favorites in the film. "'Angel Eyes' is a fabulous song, and the humor and pathos Julie and Christine brought to the number was priceless."

Dylan performs "Why Did It Have to Be Me?" as a duet with James on a yacht in the ocean. Turns out nerves were the least of the actor's concerns. "We were practicing in the studio at Shepperton, where there was lot of space and the ground was still, but when it came to doing the routine on the boat we were genuinely struggling to stand up. We were finding it hilarious trying not to fall in the sea. In retrospect, it was helpful for the spirit of the number because we were having fun and were joyous. If anything, we were trying to contain our excitement."

Just like his modern Bill counterpart, Dylan had to shake off nerves on set. Working with the choreographer was initially daunting, but apprehension soon gave way to enjoyment. "Early on, I told Anthony how nervous I was about dancing, but he put my mind at rest when he told me that it wasn't about dancing; it was about storytelling. He was so receptive and open to ideas, which says a lot about him as a choreographer. He works to your strengths, and helps us feel these are our own creation."

One of Van Laast's absolute favorite moments during production was collaborating with the legendary Cher and Garcia on the pivotal "Fernando." He recounts: "Again, this number had to develop the relationship between their characters. Andy plays her long-lost love, and it is about how they come together and rekindle the love they once had. I based the choreography slightly on the Argentinian tango. It gives a feel of sensuality between them and works so well."

The most ambitious number of the movie is "Dancing Queen." Van Laast is refreshingly honest about the challenge of putting the piece together: "'Dancing Queen" was particularly hard because I have done it so many times. I also thought it was the best number in the last film, so I had a real struggle with it. When I examined the script, the fishermen on the boats was a new way into it because normally it is sung by women. This time it would be sung by fishermen on boats with Colin and Stellan. The next challenge was how to choreograph people dancing on boats and people on land, skipping down the hill from the hotel to meet the boats. Then we bring them all together, and that was the easy part because making up steps is not hard for me. What is hard is to make sure that the story is running through and makes sense."

Perhaps the most joyous center piece of the movie for Seyfried is when the entire legacy cast performs "Dancing Queen." In fact, many original cast members from the Mamma Mia! stage show were drafted in to join the ensemble dance team. "When I find out the dads are on their way to the island, I'm with Tanya and Rosie and everybody starts dancing and singing"running down the hill to the jetty to meet all the boats," the actress reveals. "It is just a huge 'Dancing Queen' celebration and so joyous. Everybody is having the time of their lives, and this marks the beginning of everything starting to fall into place."

Firth loved the nuances his choreography brought to a number that could have easily gone repetitive. The actor offers: "Harry hits the ground running. One minute he's got his suitcases in his hand trying to find a way to the island; the next he is with about 150 fisherman and women, dancing and singing with vigor. Once the music blasts out, the sun is shining, you're on the sea and the energy is up; everyone was dancing. It is hard not to find that contagious. Added to that, there was a camera helicopter swooping over us. It was a strange mixture of energies, but I did find it thrilling."

Cooper was also involved in the "Dancing Queen" sequence, and enjoyed it just as much as Firth. "When we are on the island, we filled a beautiful cove with a wonderful routine," says Cooper. "It is where the dads arrive on the jetty for the opening of the hotel, and there is a big embrace and coming together"the ultimate reunion. This is to 'Dancing Queen,' and it is a poignant, exciting part of the film."

Their fellow collaborator, Brosnan, recounts filming the "Dancing Queen" number and owns jumping in with wild abandon: "There is only one way to go with fun, and that is both feet in. If you pull back and you're shy, you will be dead in the water. Once you hear the music, you just have to let it rip. I was with Julie and Christine on the hillside in Vis"with so many support artists, dancing and skipping down the road. You have to commit with any of these songs. You have to have the greatest time and be prepared to make an arse of yourself. You may fall flat on your face, but you will do it with style."

When it came to "My Love, My Life," the poignant number Streep shares with Seyfried and James, Van Laast admits the pressure was on. The last number of the film, it required pitch-perfect emotional balance…and needed to be correct without becoming indulgent. "Ol was so clever in how we go from Lily to Meryl using transformation ideas, and it worked well," wraps the choreographer. "The first time Meryl performed it, she did it for everyone so they could get a feel for the number. I looked at the actors and there was hardly a dry eye. Meryl is genius; it is like working with a Rolls Royce."

Dressing the '70s and Today: Costumes of Here We Go Again

Award-winning costume designer Michele Clapton celebrated the era as much as her cast did. "This movie being a prequel was key for me," she says. "The decade is quite diverse. You go from American Hustle through to this lovely island beach wear, and the shapes are great. What is interesting is that the '70s look is actually contemporary at the moment. I love this cyclical movement in fashion, but it always looks different the next time round; the pieces could be homemade, colorful and clashing but also stylish. We had a Biba look for Young Tanya and then a more eclectic, thrown together mad hippy-chick look for Young Rosie."

Clapton found collaborating with James, Keenan Wynn and Davies refreshing. "What has been so enjoyable about working with the three girls is that they were ready to have fun. They are not self-conscious and were up for trying anything. The '70s era allows that to happen because it is not so far from what we wear today; it's not entirely alien. We embraced the fun of it all and the idea that it was handmade, and we enhanced each character's journey within that." The designer pauses and laughs, "Judy's usual thing is, 'Can it have more sparkle?'"which I think is the best thing."

Her cast weren't the only ones thrilled with Clapton's brilliant skills in bringing the past back to vibrant life. Parker raves: "Michele, our extraordinary costume designer, walked the tightrope really beautifully"making sure the costumes were gorgeous and flamboyant without being preposterous and just natural and easy. The girls loved them."

Exploring the world of Donna in 1979 involved wearing some incredible costumes, and James was thrilled to work with Clapton. "When I went into my first fitting and saw the costumes Michele had picked out, I knew she totally got and understood Donna," the performer notes. "She was so clever with our 'When I Kissed the Teacher' outfits; you can see that we've cut our outfits out of our dorm-room curtains in Oxford. It evokes the '70s, that brown stripped décor, and feels young and thrown together in a cool and inventive way"capturing the time period perfectly."

"It was a great starting point because it kicked off the film," adds Clapton. "It is a classic The Sound of Music-inspired moment where they cut the costumes out from their brown and yellow-striped curtains. We then stuck on stars and gave them fake-fur boas for more of a '70s vibe."

As Young Tanya, the fashionista, Keenan Wynn would spend a great deal of time with Clapton. "Michele knows exactly how to design for a female body," notes the performer. "Tanya gets the most fashion-forward clothes, and the best part was the costume fittings"getting to try on all the outfits and find my character with the clothes Michele was putting on me. She would ask me how I felt in each look, so it was a reciprocal relationship. It was wonderful to feel I had a say in the creation of Young Tanya, even though I was on Michele's genius mission."

The next performance outfit for the Young Dynamos was for Mamma Mia! in the Greek taverna. "I liked the idea that they would get dressed up at any opportunity. Again, these have a homemade feel," says Clapton. "They are wearing normal jeans with added ruffles and stretchy denim tops. We used boots from the early '70s, rather than the platforms of the later time. This was for safety, because they were jumping on tables and running around. Also if you are dressing up, you don't necessarily wear the items from the period; you just take what's around. We found three pairs of silvery gold boots that went well with the costumes, and that is what they wore. Then we added to each costume to make them individual and give elements of each character."

The 1979 Dynamos had some delightfully fantastic costumes created by Clapton, and the actresses portraying them just loved it. "The '70s costumes are crazy, and there is such a variety of styles because we go from chilling in our Oxford bedroom to being on stage in a taverna in Greece," laughs Davies. "The denim flares we wear when we perform 'Mamma Mia!' were my favorite; they are so cool and also comical but they are comfortable to dance in."

Clapton enjoyed the collaborative experience of working with another of her idols, and discusses one of her signature costumes. "Cher wears things incredibly beautifully; she can really bring a costume to life. She is very careful and wants to know the backstory and the reason for each item. Before filming, I went to her house in L.A. to discuss what I was thinking of doing. I wanted Ruby's grand-arrival costume to be a fitted suit the color of the moon.

"Cher was on board with the idea, but during rehearsals she realised the jacket wasn't going to work with the choreography for her song," continues Clapton, "so we designed a fantastic top to go underneath. It had a long, jagged silver-sequin sleeve with liquid-silver cuffs; it caught the light beautifully as she comes down the stairs of the Hotel Bella Donna."

Famed for her own sense of ground-breaking fashion, Cher describes her character's sense of style: "Actually, Ruby's clothes are a little more reserved. She is a grandmother, so she is far more chic. When she wears leopard-skin print, it is not brown and black, it is a tasteful charcoal grey and pale white, with a plain white blouse. It really sets her apart."

Turning to the legacy cast, Clapton revelled in styling the well-known characters. "I updated their look only in as much as their characters would have moved forward. For example, Tanya has married twice; she takes care of herself, has more money and will wear fashionable clothes. Rosie is a writer who has found success, so she still dresses in a colorful way in today's fashion. Out of all the legacy cast, Bill's look has changed the least. He doesn't follow fashion, so it is natural that his clothes will be similar."

There was also extensive discussion about the costume Streep would wear. "The idea from the beginning was that it should be the dungarees because that is the archetypal costume we associate with Donna," discusses the costumer. "The moment we saw the set and the action, we realised it was a no-brainer. To compromise slightly, we made a pretty blouse with a blue pattern on the sleeves to go underneath. When Meryl came into the costume department to try the dungarees on it was quite emotional. It was lovely because it felt like the heart of Mamma Mia! was back."

Of course, Sophie has grown up and changed since the last movie, and her clothing needed to reflect her journey. "Sophie has lost her mum, and Sky is in New York. There is an air of sadness to her, but she has also taken on the hotel," the designer explains. "She can't be the hippy flower child she was before. She is more grounded, and we wanted to reflect this in her costume. Sophie wears lots of jeans and little tops, which are quite stylish and contemporary to give a sense that she has travelled.

One ensemble they particularly loved for Sophie was the dress she wore to her baby's christening. "We found fabric that had a beautiful butterfly pattern on it," says Clapton. "It was actually a top but we needed a dress, so we brought three tops and made a dress out of the material. Young Donna always wears a butterfly around her neck, so we felt it was a nice tie in that Sophie would wear butterflies on her dress in memory of her mother. Another iconic item of costume for Sophie is a multi-colored poncho. This again is a tie in to Young Donna, who wears a little knitted-orange poncho at the beginning of the film."

This day of filming was so poignant for all involved in the production. Producer Goetzman recalls the day: "In the very emotional chapel sequence that involves Meryl, Amanda and Lily, I kept hearing little noises off to the side. I looked over, and the entire grip department might as well have had buckets under their chins"for the amount of tears they were crying. The whole crew was a mess. Just a mess."

U.K. to Croatia: Locations of the Movie Past Meets Present: Introduction to the Story

In 1979, high-spirited and courageous Young Donna Sheridan (James), Young Tanya (Wynn) and Young Rosie (Davies)"aka Donna and The Dynamos"graduate from Oxford University, and Donna joyfully embarks on her adventures through Europe to fulfill her destiny on the Greek island of Kalokairi.

On her journey, she makes the acquaintance of three attractive young men"including Young Harry (Skinner), who has been posted in Paris to swot up on the "European ways," and Young Bill (Dylan) who offers to take Donna to the island on his sailboat. Once there, she comes across Young Sam (Irvine), who seems as heroic as he is handsome, and she promptly falls blissfully head-over-heels-in-love.

Donna's happiness is palpable and infectious. Her mind set to make this magical island her new home, she finds a singing job in the local taverna and shelter in a ramshackle farmhouse. However, when she discovers Sam is engaged to another woman, Donna's heart is broken. Tanya and Rosie swoop in to save their friend, but it turns out she doesn't need rescuing. As she waves them goodbye, Donna's optimism is restored in the knowledge she is expecting a child.

In the present day on Kalokairi, Sophie Sheridan (Seyfried), with the support of Sam (Brosnan), her step-father"and one of her three possible biological dads"has dedicated herself to fulfilling Donna's (Streep) dream of renovating the taverna. Sophie plans to transform it into the magnificent Hotel Bella Donna in her honor.

Donna's greatest friends, Tanya (Baranski) and Rosie (Walters), arrive on the island for the lavish grand opening but Sophie's hotel manager, Señor Cienfuegos (Garcia), warns that a terrible storm is approaching. Sophie is distraught as the wind and rain pound the island, her opening party plans in tatters. To make matters worse, all transport is down.

As Rosie and Tanya struggle to lift Sophie's spirits, the skies clear and a miraculous, glorious flotilla comes sailing through the sparkling waters toward the island. On board are north of 150 fishermen ready to celebrate along with Bill (Skarsgård), Harry (Firth) and Sophie's boyfriend, Sky (Cooper). The joyous reunion is crowned by the surprise arrival of her long absent, dazzling grandmother Ruby (Cher).

Standing outside the Hotel Bella Donna where it all began, Sophie's connection to her mother has never felt so strong. With the colorful celebration in full swing, surrounded by music and those she loves most in the world, Sophie reveals that she and Sky have a secret of their own to share...

The Joy of It All: Development of the Film

It is difficult to believe, but it has actually been 10 years since the ground-breaking success of Mamma Mia! The Movie, which was produced by Judy Craymer and Gary Goetzman. Craymer"producer and creator of the global smash-hit musical Mamma Mia!"sets up the premise of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again: "Both the musical and the first film is a story of family and friendship, and believing in yourself. In Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, we continue the emotional journey of our story while also discovering how those life-changing relationships formed and had such a profound impact on Donna, The Dynamos, Sophie and her possible dads.

"The story of Mamma Mia! feels more relevant than ever, and audiences really have a deep affection for the story, the show, ABBA's music and the first film," she continues. "The songs and story take you on an emotional journey with music that is magical and irresistible."

It was important to Craymer and producer Goetzman that they not rush a story. Craymer recounts: "The evolution of 'Mamma Mia' has always been an organic one, and we'd always loved the idea of a second movie. Without any kind of cynicism, we've gone back to the origins of the musical, as there was a foundation there that worked so well. We'd always discussed the backstory of how Donna and The Dynamos formed in college and how Donna found her destiny on the island. This was the jumping-off point for how we came upon the storyline of a prequel and a sequel in one."

As a long-time admirer of Richard Curtis' work, Craymer approached him about expanding the back-story of Mamma Mia!. "Richard came up with the storyline and suggested I meet with Ol Parker as a possible screenwriter," says the producer. "It was in my conversations with Ol that I knew he understood the journey we wanted to take with this story that was full of joy and big emotions"as the characters are dealing with real-life issues of marriage, death and birth."

While the development process to ensure any sequel would dovetail well with the first film was extensive, Goetzman and Craymer felt strongly that there were other tales to tell. "When you see Mamma Mia!, there are stories that you think, 'Wow, could that be elaborated on a bit?' We thought it would be a good idea to show our beloved characters in a younger time, when the story of the first film actually began. Along with that, we have a narrative about the original characters and what's happened in their lives."

Parker was mindful of the original architects of the first movie. "It was obviously the biggest thing in the world, and that's both terrifying and thrilling," he notes. "Thrilling because it means we get to have fun, and terrifying because there's a level to match up to."

Reflecting on her delight upon reading Parker's script, Craymer offers: "When Ol delivered the first draft of his screenplay, it was a special time. I instantly knew it was right. There are heart-breaking moments, but it also very much embraced the empowerment of women."

Then there was the difficult task of finding the ideal director, a decision that producers Craymer and Goetzman labored over for some time. Craymer offers: "We'd spoken to several but had an instinctive feeling that Ol, even though he hadn't directed a musical, should be the director. We were thrilled when he agreed."

Parker was delighted to be directing on a project with Craymer and Goetzman, commenting: "I've known Gary for 20 years. He produced a movie that my wife was in some time ago, and he's been my friend for a long time. Judy was my friend about 30 seconds after meeting her, and she's Mamma Mia!'s godmother. She's been joyous and nothing but supportive."

"Ol is the hardest-working director I've ever known," praises Goetzman. "He brings a calm, creative approach to directing, and yet, instills everyone with an energy and passion for the film they're making."

Based on Johnson's book for the musical and her screenplay for Mamma Mia! The Movie, Curtis worked closely with Parker on the story for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. For Curtis"who also serves as executive producer on this film"his love affair with this world began many years prior. "I first saw Mamma Mia! The Movie on a rainy day in Cromer, Norfolk; the theater was completely full, and we emerged feeling we'd had a summer holiday in just two hours. That is what this is. It is a mainstream injection of joy and optimism"with an undertone of feminist enthusiasm, passion and strength."

The writer talks about a fitting inspiration for a story about family: "This came from a conversation with my rather brilliant 22-year-old daughter. I asked if she had any ideas for Mamma Mia! 2, and she said it was obvious: It should be flashback to explore how Donna met the three possible fathers during the summer of '79, cut into the present day with Sophie. Then there is a whole cycle of motherhood linking the two."

Curtis absolutely understands why audiences are drawn to Mamma Mia!. "I'm a massive pop fan and therefore a massive ABBA fan. They are one of the great bands of all time"perfect tunes and often deep and emotional lyrics. If you want a song about splitting up"is there anything better than 'Knowing Me, Knowing You'?"

Long-time collaborators, Curtis and Parker began the process of mapping out the story for the sequel/prequel. "I went to stay with him, which was a joyous thing anyway and every morning we'd sit in his caravan and pin up all the ABBA songs that we liked on the wall," explains Parker. "Then, we tried to figure out a way to zigzag from one to the other. We would also try to make each other laugh, which was the main challenge."

It's difficult to say who the bigger ABBA fan between the two is. "Richard Curtis has an encyclopaedic knowledge of ABBA, which defeats even mine," Parker laughs. That would inform the narrative of the film. "We both know their music so well, sometimes we'd consider using a song as a way to get into a scene, others we'd find a way to put a song into a scene."

For Parker, whose background as a screenwriter allowed him the foresight to imagine what would and wouldn't work, the concept of a prequel/sequel felt ideal. "From the back story of the three possible fathers, how Young Donna becomes Donna and finds her way to the island"even how the dungarees originate"all of those things just seemed like a gift. They're all these moments where you can create symmetry, and it can lend an emotional resonance to uh Sophie's story."

Goetzman was impressed by the number of "hidden treasures" that the screenplay placed all over the film. "In writing Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Ol and Richard brought in these little connections, nods and winks to the first film. As in Mamma Mia!, the songs in this film come at just the right time and evoke the perfect feeling for the scene."

Godfathers of Mamma Mia! Andersson and Ulvaeus Collaborate

Sharing her excitement for the next installment of the Mamma Mia! story, Craymer reflects on the great enthusiasm that comes from all-things ABBA: "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again has been a joyous experience for everyone"featuring a one-of-kind ensemble, great storytelling and music from ABBA that will take audiences on an emotional and joyous journey." For the producer, this experience springs from the brilliance of her collaborators: "Benny and Björn are geniuses, and ABBA's music is a gift to the world."

Goetzman has known ABBA's Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus for years, and also like many, has been a fan of their music for much longer. When considering a follow-up film, the producer never worried that there wouldn't be enough material. "ABBA's music is so full and rich that even their songs that you don't know as well are incredible. So many of their songs were huge hits internationally, and there are many we didn't use in the first picture. It's a beautiful musical landscape that Benny and Björn have laid out for us, and we take full advantage of it."

Andersson and Ulvaeus serve as executive producers, as well as providing music and lyrics. Ulvaeus also has a cameo as a university professor for the opening number when Young Donna and The Dynamos perform at graduation ceremonies at Oxford. Ulvaeus recalls that the particular song has always had a special place in his heart, and he discusses releasing it in the mid-'70s: "'When I Kissed the Teacher' was written as early as 1975, at a time when we thought any song could only last two years, so it is funny to return to it now. It is a youthful-sounding, energetic song, and it is absolutely perfect to kick the off the film."

Sharing how it feels to witness songs given a whole new lease on life by the Young Dynamos, Ulvaeus reflects: "To see these young people singing these numbers in a movie is so humbling, and I've loved every moment. The uncanny thing about "When I Kissed the Teacher" is that it fits this scene in the movie perfectly."

The Mamma Mia! show and movies have given ABBA music a relevance no one ever could've imagined. "After the first movie, I never thought there would be another one because it would be so difficult to find the right songs to weave into the story, and I wasn't sure there would be the right material," Ulvaeus adds. "When Judy called with the idea she'd been working with Ol Parker and Richard Curtis, I thought immediately that it sounded interesting and we should give it a go. I have always been an admirer of their films, and the way that Richard treats music in Love Actually and Four Weddings is wonderful. They understand music and what it can do within a film."

Andersson and Ulvaeus first met producer Craymer in the '80s, and later she approached them about producing a stage show featuring their music. "We weren't convinced, but then she came up with a script by Catherine Johnson," explains Andersson. We liked the way the narrative had been carried through by our songs to move the story forward. We were and still are very protective of our music. We set up a company with her so that if we wanted to pull the plug we could; we are lucky we didn't!"

When the idea of a follow-up film came about, Andersson was again hesitant but remained opened to exploration. "The first movie was a tremendous success and such a good film that we weren't sure another one could work," he states. "It is wonderful that all the cast are back, and that felt good. What is nice is that I got to go back into the studio again and work with the old boys in the band, record all these songs that are not in the first film and"unless you are a hard-core ABBA fan"you may not know them yet."

Discussing the songs chosen for the movie, Andersson says: "They are all good in different ways. "When I Kissed the Teacher" is great fun and uplifting. "My Love, My Life" is a song from 1973, which is quite beautiful and comes at the end of the movie."

On working with the A-list cast list of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, he laughs that it took actors and singers alike a bit of adjustment: "We are used to it now. It was a little weird 10 years ago having Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth come into the studio. They were as tense as we were. It takes a minute to realize we're not dangerous; we all just want to do this as well as we can. Once everyone understands, it's a piece of cake. They trust me, I trust them and we just start working."

That collaboration permeated the production. Goetzman says: "ABBA's songs are the ultimate, magical earworms. Once you hear them, you can't get them out of your mind. They won't go away, but you never get sick of them. You can't help but feel happy when you hear those songs. ABBA's music is timeless. It appeals to generation after generation, in any setting"I don't care if it's a dance floor, your car or in the bathtub. ABBA rules."

Finding Young Donna: Lily James Joins

When it came to casting the part of Young Donna, the filmmakers knew whomever they chose would have some very big overalls to fill. Lily James, known for her astonishing work in films from Baby Driver and Cinderella to her star-making turn in Downton Abbey, takes the character to an unexpected level. "Lily embodied the spirit of Donna; she was minxy and perfect to play her," raves Craymer. "I know she had a long hard think before taking the role because playing a younger Meryl Streep is a challenge for any actress, but she immersed herself in the idea. This was a chance to work on a beloved musical, and Lily has a pure, beautiful voice."

While it was of course important to the filmmaking team that their Young Donna remind audiences quite a bit of the Donna we know and love, mirror image was never crucial to the production. Goetzman explains just what James accomplishes: "Lily transcends whether you think she looks exactly like Meryl or doesn't; that doesn't matter. She's a tour-de-force, and what a singing voice!"

Ulvaeus worked extensively with James in pre-production and was astonished by what he experienced with the performer. "Lily came to Stockholm to record her songs for the movie. We had seen her on videos and heard her sing but we didn't know she was such a fantastic talent, so that was a wonderful surprise," he notes. "As a lyricist, I'm particularly happy because she is a natural storyteller in her singing, which is not that common. The way she treats our songs is a delight to hear."

Andersson was particularly impressed by James and Seyfried in the recording studio. "Lily can sing so well; she is such a sweet woman and really wonderful, which is good because she has a lot to accomplish in this movie. Amanda also has a lovely voice. When she sings 'I've Been Waiting for You,' it is a beautiful moment."

To have the support of producers and ABBA frontmen alike meant everything to James. Still, the number-one nod of approval she needed was from Donna herself. Meryl Streep shares that she was deeply moved by James' interpretation of the character. "I knew Lily from Downton Abbey, where she plays a demure blonde with a naughty tinge to her character, and I thought, 'She's perfect.' But then when I saw the film, I had no idea that she had these singing chops and was such a fantastic performer and dancer. Her spirit is what I hope Young Donna was; she really captured it."

Streep appreciated the character study James had given Donna, and loved that the young actress had watched Mamma Mia! The Movie at least 10 times in preparation to step on set. She even had Donna's signature hands-in-overalls move down pat. "Lily has that dancing energy in her voice," reflects the performer. "There are some people who stand there and sing, and there are some people who sing from the bottom of their feet and shake the rafters. She's amazing, and did a great job."

James found the opportunity both thrilling and challenging: "This is such a huge role to take on because Donna as a character is so beloved, and Meryl Streep is the best actress of all time. I couldn't have been more excited. The life, power and the spirit of that woman is so intoxicating. I have loved the opportunity to show who Donna was before the point that Meryl takes over, before she has her heart broken by Sam and before she was left on the island with a baby."

James first saw Mamma Mia! in the West End when she was a child. "I loved Mamma Mia! so much when I was growing up because the music is just mind-blowing. The more you listen to it, the more you love it. You know the songs so well, but woven into this story are characters that you fall in love with"who are all so imperfect, colorful and full of life. It is an unconventional story, fun and unapologetic."

Telling the story of Donna back when she "used to have fun," James says of her character: "You see Young Donna as she is leaving University in Oxford. You get a real insight into her diary, following this flighty girl who wants to see the world and isn't satisfied with the norm. She wants to break free and find herself. You see her meet these three men and the journey that ultimately makes her the Donna we all know and love."

The opening musical number for James is "When I Kissed the Teacher," introducing the audience to the Young Dynamos. "We start the film with Donna, who is the first woman ever to be a valedictorian at Oxford," explains the actress. "She is giving a speech to her peers and breaks out into song…causing total anarchy. There is a real spirit of rebellion between these three young women as they give the gig of their lives, strip out of their robes and dance around the teachers. The Dynamos are the original girl-power band, and you are flung right into the heart of the girl group."

When she considers the integration of the ABBA songs into the storyline, James notes: "Many of the songs have a different feel to them. The filmmakers have taken what you know, turned it on its head and cleverly created new moments. Performing 'Mamma Mia!' felt incredible. I just pretended I was a pop star. The music and the songs are a gift, and I'm so lucky and grateful to have been able to sing them with all the joy, passion and mayhem they deserve."

Parker can't rave enough about his lead actress' skillset, and was particularly moved by her work"alongside the two Young Dynamos"on the opening sequence. "Young Donna is played gloriously by the rock star that is Lily, and no pun intended, she's just dynamic on screen. 'When I Kissed the Teacher' is the perfect song to kick off the movie"as well as the journey that the girls make. It's banging, kick-arse and brilliant."

Naturally, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is building on the phenomenal success of the previous film, and James respects all that have come before her to make this magic. "This movie has the same feel and tone of Mamma Mia! The Movie. It has the must-have classic ABBA songs you'd expect, but also some less well known songs that are also hits. We are back on Kalokairi and the characters we fell so deeply in love with in the first movie are all back. On top of that, you get to see these characters when they were younger, and there is something heartfelt, funny and satisfying about that."

James talks about her faith in Parker's script and how his directorial style set the tone for the production, both on- and off-screen. "Ol is calm and generous, and that was a nice energy to have on set because Mamma Mia! needs to be joyous and light-hearted. He gave everyone room to feel relaxed and in charge of their own characters, to let the moments, the songs and the scenes play out without pressure. I trust that he has given me all I need to make sure Young Donna feels like the right Donna."

Summarizing her experience working on the film, the performer gives: "Making this movie has been a bit like those magical summer holidays you have when you are young and in love and blissfully happy. You think the world can never get better than this, and I know all the other actors feel the same way. We didn't want to leave the island because there is something magical about it. I believe watching the film will feel the same; it is sunny and stunning. Despite yourself, you can't help but be drawn into the joy of it all."

Mamma Mia! Reunites

There would be no follow-up film without the entire returning principal cast, and Craymer and Goetzman were adamant that it had to be all or none. While always hopeful their cast would return, Goetzman is the first to admit it was never a given. "Just because you make a movie that has a lot of success that doesn't necessarily mean everybody wants to get back into Spandex," he says. "But luckily, everyone did."

Sophie & Sky
We return to the island and find that Sophie and Sky are in a much different place than where we last left them. On the development of Sophie as a character, Curtis reflects: "In the first film, there is absolutely no doubt that she is a child trying to come out of her mother's shadow. In this film, you have Sophie as a woman who is trying to do the right things and make the same kind of decisions that her mother made"ones that are courageous and bold."

Returning to the role of Sophie, Amanda Seyfried talks of her affinity for the character: "It is a special opportunity to come back and play Sophie. In the first movie I was just 21; it was one of my first big films, and I was genuinely playing myself from the first day to the end credits. We are coming back 10 years later in reality, but in the story it is about half of that"so not so much has changed for Sophie as it has for me. The glee is still very much alive and perhaps even more so."

"When I read the script, I was completely blown away," adds Seyfried. "Ol has created such depth with new dynamics and character arcs that are realistic. When the music stops, you have to deal with things that are sometimes heart-breaking and then the music starts again. That is life, and there are a lot of messages in this story. I can't think of a better way to continue Mamma Mia!"

Fortunately for the audience, Seyfried has a number of ABBA songs to perform in the follow-up film. "Discussing why she is excited for audiences to experience Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, the actress takes a moment. "We are back on a crazy beautiful island, ABBA is back in my life and I have a completely new appreciation of their music; there are songs I never knew I loved so much. I can't believe what I'm about to say, but this movie is bigger, better and more spectacular than the original. I didn't see it coming, but boy am I ever glad."

Her on-screen mother reflects on what Seyfried accomplishes in this chapter: "Amanda brings something to this incarnation of Mamma Mia! that's very special," offers Streep. "She's the heartbeat of the film. Her emotion carries the whole story forward, and she really moved me. I think she's magic. Plus, she's got a cracking great voice, and she gets to use it more in this film."

Dominic Cooper returns to the role of Sky, Sophie's boyfriend, and the duo sings "One of Us" together; that sequence stands out to the actor. "The song is about two people who are just not right for each other and are having a tough time. Sky and Sophie are thinking about breaking up. It doesn't feel like it is going to work out, so it's a great duet. I've never heard the song this way before, and it gives it a new life."

Making his welcome return to the role, Cooper talks about revisiting the character 10 years after the first film was released. "Even though you don't think about them every day, there is a part of every character you have played inside of you. With Sky, it is clear what his role is, and I felt comfortable going back. It was like putting on an old comfy pair of shoes. It is a joy to be back in the environment, seeing these people and being back on the incredible set that was rebuilt for this production."

Commenting on what the new film is bringing to fans of Mamma Mia!, he shares: "There is certainly more going on in terms of emotional content and journey. The character arcs are great, and it is funny. The music, along with the dialogue that springs to life, is so compelling. It has been exciting to watch it all unfold."

Cooper walks us through where we find Sophie and Sky: "We've gone our separate ways to embark on our careers. Sophie is trying to renovate her mother's villa, and Sky has gone to New York to learn hotel management. At the beginning of the movie, there is a phone call that suggests I won't be coming to the opening of her wonderful hotel she has been working on for so long. We have an argument that could possibly be the end of the relationship."

The performer has spent much of the past decade talking with fans about just what ABBA means to all of us. "You cannot deny this is about their music," Cooper notes. "It is pop music at its best. It was more successful than anything at the time and is still listened to and enjoyed today. That is the genius of Judy Craymer in creating this in the first place. Hearing this music enlivens people and makes you feel joyous. This film has a different taste; it is not trying to replicate something we have done before. The music is wonderful, it is affecting, and it takes you on an emotional journey."

Summarizing the essence of the film, Cooper says: "This is a story about life. It's about generations, success and failure"romance, friendships, and how important work is in our lives. Seeing people making mistakes and watching how they move forward. All this coincides with moving lyricism, which lifts up the story with a wonderful joy."

Donna and The Dynamos
When discussing what it was like to slip on those comfy Donna overalls, Streep laughs: "It was like going home, walking onto the set and seeing Colin, Stellan, Pierce, Christine, Julie, Dominic and Amanda"all of them, and their bright shining faces. Everybody took a big gulp and asked ourselves, 'what have we stepped in to?' But the music starts up and you put on the spandex…and honey, it all comes together."

Streep reflects that it is the unexpected kindness in ABBA's music that keeps the artists' work so relatable to so many. That extends from their storied career to the stage show and the movies. "There's an element in Benny and Björn's music that is so tender. Its sweetness is real and emotional," the actress offers. "The emotional lines of the music and the lyrics blend perfectly."

When discussing her hopes for audiences who experience the new film on the screen, Streep pauses, offering: "I just hope they have the feeling I did when I saw it, which was just elation. I want them to come out as happy as I was when I saw it. Delivering happiness is something that's very rare in this world, and the fact is that this gang of people came together to do it. If we deliver joy, that's all I ask."

Donna's dearest friends, Tanya and Rosie, join Sophie on the island to attend the grand opening of the Hotel Bella Donna. For the three actresses, this longtime-coming reunion was so very welcome. Seyfried explains their reconnection song: "Sophie is fretting over Sky not calling her back because of a fight; Tanya and Rosie are telling me of their past relationships, and we sing 'Angel Eyes.' We are all relating to each other, and it is fun. I also sing 'I've Been Waiting for You' with Rosie and Tanya. It's a moving song about grief and love"it's just beautiful and very Dynamo-esque."

Returning to the role of Rosie, Julie Walters reintroduces us to her character, and lets us know where we find her: "Rosie is a television cook and writer. She is unattached and her love life hasn't been brilliant over the years. But she is warm and down to earth, a bit clumsy and puts her foot in it on occasion. Her best friends are Donna and Tanya; we're a bit of a threesome, and we make up the Dynamos.

"In the present day, Donna's daughter has returned to the Greek Island to rebuild her mother's hotel in her honor," the actress continues. "We all go back to the island for the opening, and it is announced during that time that Sophie is pregnant. Everything comes together, like it does in Mamma Mia! The Movie. Bill, played by Stellan, was my love interest on the first film. We have had a bit of a rocky time, but we get back together. It's a bit like Shakespeare"everyone ends up with a partner in the end."

For Walters, being so familiar with the character was a great head start in getting into the role. "It is lovely to revisit something because we know who we are playing and how we interact with each other. We have all worked together before, and sang some of the songs we've sung in the past. For 'Dancing Queen,' I thought I wouldn't remember how to sing it but the moment I heard the melody on the piano, my harmony just came straight back into me. It was quite extraordinary."

Commenting on what is in store for the cinema audience, Walters"who actually had to duck out of a morning of shooting in order for the Queen to anoint her Dame Walters!"says: "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is going to be a special journey. It's about love and life. It's utterly uplifting and moving. People will want to dance in the aisles, just like they did in the first one, but I think they will be even more engaged with the characters. This movie has so much depth to it, whilst still being so much fun."

Just as much of a scene stealer as Walters, Christine Baranski resumes her role of Tanya. An exciting aspect of the film is how the next installment will introduce Mamma Mia! to a new generation. "This is going to bring a whole new audience to the fairytale, the magic and mythology of Mamma Mia!," Baranski proclaims. "This movie can stand on its own even if you haven't seen the original, but it will lead people to re-watch the first one. Also, it is a prequel, so you have young, hot actors and actresses playing our younger selves. There is a nice balance between the familiar and the new."

As one of the original members of the Mamma Mia! family, Baranski comments on the creator and producer of the franchise: "Judy Craymer is the soul of Mamma Mia! She is the coolest lady. You will never hear her raise her voice. She brings all these amazing people together and never seems to break a sweat. Judy almost sold her kitchen sink to get the original [stage show] made; she just totally believed in it and wouldn't give up on it as an idea. The fact that it is an international mega-hit and now this iconic musical is wonderful. She is the mamma in Mamma Mia!. I love and adore her."

Recalling her reaction to the screenplay, Baranski was pleasantly surprised with the format. "They did something extraordinarily clever. It's a prequel so you get to see Donna and her girlfriends as young women, and you get to see how all those love affairs happened. That means you have three beautiful young women and three talented, handsome young men on motorcycles and boats in beautiful locations. Then you catch up with Sophie and the legacy cast you are so familiar with from the last movie. For fans, they will just be so happy and moved by this fantastic reunion."

Once Tanya arrives back on Kalokairi with Rosie to stay with Sophie and attend the grand opening of the Hotel Bella Donna, we realize the best parts of her remain unchanged. "Tanya has gone through at least one more husband, so she is single, just three times divorced instead of twice," Baranski laughs. "She is still on the hunt for a man, still wearing her foxy outfits, still in heels that don't quite work on the cobbled streets of Kalokairi. She is the same lady but there is a happily ever after for all the characters, even Tanya."

"Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is like stepping onto a beautiful boat and sailing away from the shore with all the darkness of the world left behind you," Baranski concludes. "You take a journey with these characters"mothers, daughters, fathers, young lovers"and along the way you hear all these wonderful songs that make you feel good. It is happy, sexy, sensuous, positive and utterly optimistic about life. It is everything people need to feel about the world right now."

Our Three Dads
Pierce Brosnan returns to the role of Sam Carmichael, Sophie's stepfather and one of her possible biological fathers. Thinking about the next chapter, Brosnan appreciates that the filmmakers took their time. "They hit the proverbial nail on the head with the idea of doing a prequel and a sequel," he gives. "They had enough ABBA material and a wonderful story. There is joy in abundance throughout the film. ABBA fans will know all the tracks, but for many people there will be some great surprises."

The first film holds such a special place in Brosnan's mind, as well as in his storied career. "As an actor, these projects don't come around often," he muses. "The first one was so joyous and brilliant; it caught everyone by surprise. The music of Mamma Mia! is effervescent and full of joy. ABBA created such a tapestry of love that connected with people's lives, then and now."

In Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, we find Sam and Sophie living on the Greek island of Kalokairi. "Sam has become Sophie's dad since the first movie," Brosnan explains. "She accepts me as her step-father, knowing that she has two other dads in her life who love and adore her as well. Sam and Sophie have been living on the island renovating the hotel to its former glory. It is a very tender, loving relationship."

When discussing the leadership of his director and collaborators, Brosnan is highly complimentary: "Ol has a deep well of humanity and understanding; he has a great sense of the material and what works comedically. Plus, he is wise enough to let everyone get on with what they do. He has got a magnificent cast, a masterful cinematographer, and the crew"many of whom I have worked with before"are all seasoned technicians. Once you get a good team, the script is right and the storyline straight, then you can just sit back and let it unfold. He was a delight to work with."

Brosnan gives a tease of where we find key members of the Mamma Mia! family: "Meryl comes back in the most glorious fashion. It is a poignant moment in the film, and it is going to be all-embracing. It will have a deep resonance with mothers and daughters. The song she sings is a beautiful piece of poetry with a gorgeous melody. It will work wonders."

Parker was perhaps most surprised by the amount of tenderness the words he wrote for Brosnan and Seyfried delivered when he saw the two actors bring them to life on screen. "The moments between Pierce and Amanda are almost my favorite in the movie," the writer/director proclaims. "They are very close off-screen as well. Pierce is the loveliest man and the loveliest father, and Amanda's a sweetheart. They're just very tight; they laugh a lot together, but they're very tender."

It's the juxtaposition between the film's celebration of pure joy and its ability to process loss that so enchants audiences. "These two characters are united in their grief, which is a very bonding thing," continues Parker. "They're immensely moving together and were moving off screen. These were lovely days to shoot."

Of the returning and new cast members joining him on the show, Brosnan was unabashedly enthused. "When they said Meryl was doing it, I was in. Then everyone else came to play, too"Colin, Stellan, Dominic, Amanda, Christine and Julie. Andy is also joining us, which is a brilliant piece of casting, and of course Cher. To stand on a sound stage and see Cher sitting talking to Amanda was quite surreal. I have always loved Cher; her versatility, the way she has dealt with her life and the sheer talent she possesses."

Fortunately, Stellan Skarsgård also returns"back as Bill, one of Sophie's other possible fathers. The performer recalls his reaction on hearing a sequel was in the works: "We had such a great time on the first movie and filming is such a social activity, so I looked forward to the next one."

Echoing Brosnan, Skarsgård was impressed by the flavor Parker brought to the production. "Ol was lovely to work with; there was no stress, and it was a pleasant set to be on. My hope is that this movie has that charming core of imperfection and generosity the first one had…so the audience feels they are invited into the fun."

Returning to the familiar role, he notes that it was warming to find out what an old friend was up to: "Bill is a writer of travel books. He is a cheerful guy, not yet married and he doesn't have any children. I believe him to have been a pretty wild bachelor. In this film, we learn if he finally consolidates a relationship with Rosie, which was hinted at in the last film."

Skarsgård shares an iconic scene with his fellow performers, in which they arrive on Kalokairi, amongst a flotilla, singing and dancing to "Dancing Queen." The performer recalls shooting the pivotal scene: "I love the sea, so it felt fantastic. It was beautiful weather, a stunning island, a lot of people dancing around to ABBA music. Just incredible."

Being reunited with legacy cast was a treat for Skarsgård, and it's difficult for him to narrow his compliments to just a few. "Amanda is a smart, fun, brave young actress, and she sings like a goddess. Julie is fantastic, and I'm pleased to kiss her in this movie. Not only is she a fantastic actress, she is also funny and generous. It was a great bunch to be working with; everybody laughed a lot; they are self-depreciating, fun people."

Joining his brothers in arms, Colin Firth returns to the role of Harry, rounding out the trio of Sophie's possible fathers. He recalls his thoughts on being approached to appear in the sequel: "To still be a part of this world has never stopped surprising me. I have never been someone to boast of dance moves or a singing voice. To be required to do both with no one seeming to mind how well you do it is quite wonderful." He pauses. "There is nothing more liberating that abandoning your dignity."

A major factor in his decision to join the sequel was the opportunity to be reunited with Brosnan and Skarsgård. "I've rarely had so much fun as I did on the last film, and it has been the same on this one. There is a sense of a family reunion. Being nervous about something in the company of other nervous people is a bonding experience that has sealed a few friendships on this.

"My first experience of Pierce and Stellan was at a pre-record with Benny 10 years ago," the performer continues. "I went into the studio not terribly optimistic about my singing talents, and frankly terrified. Looking in their eyes and seeing the spirals of terror was like looking in a mirror. A few moments later we were standing around a microphone, the three of us delivering 'Su-pa-pa Trou-pa-pa.' That will either make or break a relationship…and here we go again."

Explaining where we find his character in the new installment, Firth offers: "Harry seems to have been single most of his life. When we meet him in the first film, he is a guy in a suit that really looks like he needs to loosen up; he needs a bit of ABBA. The experience of coming to the island and meeting Sophie and making these friends is what he needed. At the end of the first film, he even finds a boyfriend. At the beginning of this movie, we find him back in the boardroom and he clearly can't bear it. Sophie's call inspires him to shake off those shackles again."

Super Troupers: Newcomers to the Family

Young Dynamos

Once Lily James was cast, the producers had the challenge of finding the younger players. "It was a huge challenge, but a lot of fun to cast the younger versions of our principle characters," shares Craymer. "Each one had to have something very special. We chose Alexa Davies to play Julie Walters, and it turns out she is a huge fan and has watched absolutely everything Julie has been in"she embodies her."

The friendship between Young Donna, Young Rosie and Young Tanya is beyond charming, and James easily identified with the trio. "The relationship between Donna and The Dynamos just captures the feeling I have with my best mates," notes the performer. "When you are together with your girls, nothing can stop you and there is such a sense of power, strength and rebellion. Plus Alexa and Jess are absolutely hilarious; they are so supremely talented that they blow my mind."

"Straight away they became brilliant friends," Parker offers. "They were all laughing from the first time they met and dancing together. That's so infectious. They would get off screen and carry on chatting and hanging out."

"Jessica Keenan Wynn is a great personality," Craymer adds. "She has a dry martini wit and would hire a car and take herself off to visit the sites on her days off. She is not only Tanya, she is also really Christine Baranski."

Keenan Wynn introduces the character whom we've grown to adore: "Tanya is the sassiest of the three Dynamos. She is the one that if the girls wanted to ask a cute boy out, Tanya would have no qualms to just go straight up to him, grab his face and smack a good one on him. This movie shows the dynamic of their friendship and how they're bonded together. They each have moments when they need one to lift the other up, and it is lovely to see the beginning of that friendship."

Portraying the younger version of Baranski's Tanya, Keenan Wynn studied Mamma Mia! The Movie as rigorously as James. "I watched the movie over and over throughout the audition process," notes the actress. "What I took away from it was the relationship between Tanya and Rosie because they are together for most of it. Their dynamic informs my character; it's like a game of basketball. Tanya takes the ball and passes it back to Rosie, then she hands it back to Tanya. Two of my favorite scenes are when Tanya and Rosie arrive by boat. Rosie scoots in and feels right at home, while Tanya is trying to be ladylike but looks into a basket of fish and screams. The other scene is when they sing 'Chiquitita' to cheer Donna up. Watching the fun and absurdity between Rosie and Tanya is brilliant."

Davies recalls her feelings on discovering that she had been awarded the part in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. "When I got the call to say I'd be playing Young Rosie I cried immediately, mostly at realizing I was going to be part of something as wonderful as Mamma Mia!...but also because playing a young Julie Walters was huge. My version is similar to Julie's, although being younger, my character is a slightly more vulnerable and naïve."

The Young Dynamos got on famously both on and off the screen, she reveals. "I feel so lucky that the two other girls are as lovely and brilliant as they are," Davies raves. "Lily and Jessica are amazing, wonderful people and it made everyone's job so much easier. I love them so much. To go to work and have to get across that I adore these girls? They are my greatest friends, and they both made that really easy. We have just had the greatest time together, and I can't wait to be their friend forever. They are stuck with me."

Just as her on-screen sisters had, when studying for the part, Davies also watched Mamma Mia! The Movie on repeat. "Julie's performance in the first movie is so funny," she commends. "She plays a lot of physical comedy"being a bit achy, and I have definitely taken on some of that. When we were doing the Mamma Mia! number, as soon as we stopped dancing, I tried to look a little uncomfortable and awkward. I've also been working on her accent, which is quite specific because she grew up in Smethwick but had elocution lessons. Becoming Rosie has been a combination of everything."

Young Dads
No stone left unturned, the film gives audiences a chance to fall in love alongside Donna. "Jeremy Irvine stepped into the shoes of Pierce Brosnan as Young Sam, Hugh Skinner plays a young Harry, and there is something about him that is so Colin Firth," notes Craymer. "Josh Dylan plays Young Bill, and he has a wonderful moment in the film when he meets Donna. It must be every actor's dream; he is bronzed and gorgeous. It's 1979, and he sails this fabulous vintage yacht while he sings 'Why Did It Have to Be Me?' It is a huge Busby Berkeley moment for him."

Curious enough, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again marks Jeremy Irvine's second collaboration with director Parker. "Ol is so good at capturing genuine emotion in a story," compliments the actor. "When I read his script, I found it so emotional that it gave me shivers. He discovered a way to show that each of those encounters has a genuine connection. Donna feels for each of these men, and you as the audience fall in love with them, too. That's important because it makes the idea that all three become Sophie's dads lovely."

Reflecting upon the story of who Sam was when he first met Donna on the island, Irvine gives: "Young Sam is a guy who has got his life all set up at home and has come to this island to cut loose and get away from the office job. He stays in a shack, lives off pretty much nothing and rides his motorbike around. He is living the dream before it all goes wrong for him."

Early on, Parker told Irvine it was important we fall in love with each of these three guys, especially Sam. The actor supplies: "Sam does something off. He has a fiancée back home, yet he meets Donna and falls hopelessly in love with her. The audience has to understand he does love her and the infidelity doesn't come from a place of him casually playing around."

Josh Dylan tackles the role of Young Bill. "We have already met Bill in Mamma Mia! The Movie," the performer states. "He is active, adventurous and a free spirit, spending a lot of his time on a beautiful sail boat on the sea. I think it is fair to say Bill is afraid of commitment. He is just always exploring. Bill meets Donna when she misses the ferry to the island and offers to give her a ride on his boat. They hit it off and get along so well. One thing leads to another and the next thing you know, they are dancing together on the boat in the middle of the ocean."

What spoke to Dylan was how "Donna and Bill have a special relationship, like the best of friends. They just seem to get each other on a playful level and also as lovers for a brief time. When they first see each other in the film, there is a twinkle in their eyes, and you just know they are kindred spirits. This also comes across in their song 'Why Did It Have To Be Me?;' they are always trying to top each other and show off a bit the way close mates do."

Dylan found the experience of working with James quite joyous: "Lily is beautiful and she looks like Meryl, but what is so great about her performance is that it doesn't feel she is doing an impression. She is bringing her own spirit to the role. Lily has a natural generosity and warmth that has made working with her such a special experience. She is an amazing actress and embodies a playful Young Donna."

Hugh Skinner takes the role of Young Harry in the 1979 portion of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. "When she meets Young Harry, they have a brief love affair in Paris before she jets off to the Greek island," explains Skinner. "He is in the first throes of his career as a banker but quickly falls in love with Donna and"realizing she is about to leave to continue her travels"he decides to seduce her by singing 'Waterloo' in this brilliant sequence."

Tackling the role meant following in the big footsteps of Colin Firth, who plays Harry in the present day. "When I got the part, I watched loads of Colin's films to see what characteristics I could adopt, but all that did was make the task ahead more daunting," Skinner laughs. "I'm excited to be sharing the part with him."

Unfortunately for Skinner, he wasn't able to share the screen with the Young Dynamos. Still, that didn't stop him from learning from his fellow thespians. "I'm actually never in the same scenes as the Young Dynamos, but during the rehearsal period we had this session where we all showed each other what we had been working on. When Lily, Jess and Alexa performed 'Mamma Mia!' for the first time, me and the boys hadn't anticipated how exciting it would be. We were just blown away"screaming like eight year olds."

Andy Garcia and Cher
Andy Garcia takes the role of the enigmatic Señor Cienfuegos. Craymer explains a bit about his part: "Andy plays a mysterious new character. What I love about Ol's script is that we don't just embrace the love affairs of the past movie, we take it even further."

Garcia was thrilled to join the production, and reflects upon the quality of the screenplay: "It was so beautifully written. It is funny, and the songs are extremely romantic and touching. There is celebration and effervescence but also longing, heartbreak and nostalgia. There are all these powerful themes that people have responded to within ABBA's music, and now they are woven into a visual presentation. I feel sure people will embrace it like they did the first movie."

Joining the Mamma Mia! family marks a departure from many of Garcia's more serious roles. Discussing his interest in taking the part, he says: "I enjoy comedies, and over the years I have always looked for the opportunity. In this case there is also the musical element, which I haven't had the chance to do enough in the past. That was an exciting challenge and something I looked forward to putting right."

Garcia appreciated the layers of detail that his screenwriter put into this role. "The English translation of my character's name, Señor Cienfuegos, is '100 fires.' He is the caretaker and manager, sommelier of the Hotel Bella Donna, which is owned by Sophie. He has found solace on this island from a broken heart, but he is a character that gets a surprise in the later years of his life."

On sharing screen time with his brilliant Oscar®-winning scene partner, Garcia was humbled. "I have the extraordinary opportunity and privilege to play with Cher; our characters share a passionate history together that is reawakened. She happens to come to the island because she is Sophie's grandmother, and we sing to each other." He laughs: "Rather, she sings to me, and I join in occasionally."

Legendary musician, singer and actress Cher was welcomed to the cast of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again as Ruby Sheridan, Donna's mother and Sophie's grandmother. "We've never met Donna's mother before," explains Craymer. "She is talked about but never present. We felt this character had to be played by somebody who was the ultimate rock chick"someone who topped everything else. It is a dream to have someone like Cher, who was a fan of the stage show. We aimed high, and it is a thrill having her singing 'Fernando.'"

According to Parker, he wrote the part for Cher, and didn't entertain a casting plan B. "I just refused to contemplate her saying no, and gloriously, she said, 'Yes.' She was more astonishing than I thought she could possibly be…on screen and off. She simply owns 'Fernando;' there's nothing like it. The moment she opened her pipes and started to sing was extraordinary on set."

Curtis reflects on what Cher brings to the role and the Mamma Mia! world: "Cher is one of the legendary stars of pop music, and she is a very fine actress. You can have your cake and eat the whole thing when you have Cher joining your film. She is funny, she can act, she is full of pizzazz and she can sing her socks off. I also love the fact that there has always been this exotic 'Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves' side to Cher, which is why it is so lovely that she is singing 'Fernando,' which is a strange, exotic song, too."

Goetzman sums up the feelings of all who were on set: "There's never been a better pairing of artist and song than Cher and 'Fernando.'"

Cher introduces the character we have heard so much about in the first movie. "Ruby is Donna's mother. She appears out of nowhere and Sophie, her granddaughter, is not particularly happy to see her. Ruby tries to explain what happened in the past and eventually, although she doesn't forgive exactly, Sophie kind of falls in love with Ruby. We fall in love with each other. Ruby and Sophie have some lovely scenes together; my character tries to help Sophie as much as she can with accepting life, death, and the new baby. I'm here for her, and I'm going to stay. She doesn't trust me in the beginning, but I'm a little crazy and she likes that."

Working with Seyfried came naturally to Cher, she states. "It was easy between us. After the first scene in which I bare my soul to Sophie and she buys it against her will, we became close; that continued throughout the shoot."

Her decision to become part of the Mamma Mia! family was an easy one, Cher says. "I have to tell you, I have had so much fun with these people. Julie is the funniest person. Colin, Pierce and Stellan are ridiculous. When Meryl and Amanda are singing a song together in the chapel, they are playing around the whole time just like silly boys."

Collaborating with Parker was enlightening and a pleasure for Cher. "This movie is staggering. We were looking at the sizzle reel the other day, and the artistry is fantastic; it just makes you want to dance."

Perhaps no one on set was more excited than Streep to see a dear friend after too many years apart…especially when they had the chance to sing together at the film's close. "Can you hear the drums Fernando?," the actress muses. "My old friend Cher steals it"shocking, playing my mother of course. She was divine, and it was so much fun to see her. We worked together on Silkwood, I think 36 years ago. Together again! And not the last time."

Singing for Maestros: Music of the Film

Pre-recording of the songs for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again took place at Air Studios in London.

Fortunately for the production, the endless patience and boundless expertise of ABBA's frontmen allowed newcomers and legacy cast alike"as well as Parker"help always at the ready. "Benny and Björn are benevolent godparents," commends the writer/director. "They are lovely. When they read the first draft, they had thoughts, which obviously were right. They listened to and respected us, and they've been nothing but supportive and generous from the beginning. Their notes were entirely correct and musically, lyrically they've helped me out tremendously."

When necessary to drive the narrative forward, Ulvaeus and Andersson worked with Parker to tweak lyrics. "'My Love, My Life' he changed dramatically, and it's far more moving as a result. With 'I've Been Waiting for You," he changed almost completely and it works magnificently. Sophie is singing about her own birth effectively because we are able to cut into it with Lily."

We begin with Cher, who discusses what she feels makes ABBA music so timeless and iconic. "When I used to hear ABBA, although I liked the music, I never listened to the lyrics. I didn't know 'Fernando,' until I started to sing it and I didn't realize how pertinent and emotional that song is. They didn't write from an American or English perspective so the lyrics are arranged differently, and they just grabbed me. I was listening to 'Super Trouper,' and I recognized the girl in the lyrics from the beginning. ABBA knew how to write a story within a song."

Cher talks about the song she shares with Garcia: "'Fernando' is about a man and a woman that knew each other in 1959, during the revolution. They loved each other but became separated. When they are reunited they are old and grey, but the passion is still there. It is a song about people in love during war times that become parted. I think it is beautiful, and we sing it as a ballad."

Performing the song with Garcia was a treat, she offers. "I'm singing to Andy, and he is singing to me. It was just amazing to work with another actor who feels the music and is able to act the song. When you do a music video, you are thinking about the words, but there is nobody there but you. This was as much an acting performance; we are transfixed."

Garcia reflects upon how Cher has given the song her own dynamic. "The melodic structure of the song is the same; it is just that Cher puts her own particular soul into the lyrics. It is a very personal interpretation. She personalizes the song for me and what 'Fernando' means to her. On top of that, Cher is one of the greatest pop singers in our history. Her voice is incredibly distinctive, and when you hear her sing you realize this suits her perfectly."

As Young Donna, James shares a song with each of the three possible dads. She walks us through key introductions: "Donna meets Harry in Paris. They have some very funny scenes and an insane rendition of 'Waterloo.' It is classic ABBA in this wonderful, mad setting. 'Andante, Andante' comes in the film when Donna meets Sam. We have this whirlwind romance. They fall for each other instantly, and Donna sings this to him in the taverna. 'Andante, Andante' is probably my favorite song. It has got a real jazzy, effortless feel to it and it is so sensual. I love where the melody sits in my voice."

Discussing recording her songs in the studio with Andersson, Keenan Wynn was enthused. "The prequel aspect of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is going to introduce a younger audience to ABBA songs. When I met Benny, I was excited to see what that day was going to be like. We went to Air Studios to record the songs before we had even started filming. It was a little daunting but so thrilling when Benny started playing the gorgeous grand piano, and Alexa and I just looked at each other and smiled. What a moment. It was wild."

Describing the tunes she gets to sing in the movie, Keenan Wynn reflects: "The Young Dynamos perform an amazing selection of ABBA songs. We start with 'When I Kissed the Teacher,' which is super-fun and sets off the movie. This song gives us a great springboard with the themes of girl power, sisterly love and female independence. We also do an amazing version of 'Mamma Mia!,' which starts a cappella and is heart-breaking, but then it bursts open and is full-on crazy fun."

The soundtrack features ABBA favorites, as well as the revival of some less well known songs. "I'm so excited for everyone to hear some of the ABBA songs that they won't be familiar with," says Davies. "You just fall in love them immediately. Some classics are 'Waterloo' and 'Dancing Queen' and then you have lovely songs like 'When I Kissed the Teacher,' 'I've Been Waiting for You' and 'My Love My Life,' which is so beautiful."

Cooper was keen to try his voice at "One of Us," a number he shares with Seyfried. "I'm sure most of us have experienced searching and seeking a career out over the heart. This song has a beauty and tranquillity to it, both romantic and sad." His lyricists and composers helped him immensely on the journey. "Benny and Björn are just so excited to be unearthing this work, remastering it and making it slightly different. They are specific with how they want it to sound. They know exactly the harmonies they want to reach, and that is why it is so successful. ABBA music has a special type of melody; they know what the sound needs to be to make it as appealing as it is."

Reflecting upon working so closely with his lyricists, Dylan has found a new appreciation for the material. "ABBA songs are catchy and they appear to be quite simple, but when you sit down with the sheet music and start to sing it, you realize how genius some of their songwriting is. There is a magic about the songs that carries and that people love."

Working with Andersson was also a thrill for Irvine, he gives. "When I came to record the music, I sat there with Benny accompanying me on the piano. It was one of those bizarre moments but also a real honor. Here is the guy who not only wrote the song but he also sang it, so I had to do it justice. He has re-written and re-arranged a lot of these songs to fit the mood of the movie. 'Knowing Me, Knowing You,' for example is such a beautiful, heart-breaking song here.

"'Andante, Andante' is a love ballad and represents the moment Sam falls in love with Donna," Irvine continues. "She gets up and sings for the first time in front of him, and he just melts. It is a gorgeous piece of music."

Those who are returning to Mamma Mia! were thrilled their cast-mates were having a similar experience to the one they were introduced to 10 years prior. Brosnan laughs, recounting some of his pivotal moments from the first film: "When I arrived, I was confronted with Benny and Björn sitting at the piano, and the only thing that gave me comfort was looking at Colin and Stellan"who were equally terrified and pale with shock. However, Benny is just the most magnificent fellow and made it easy for us. He started playing 'S.O.S,' and before you know it you are singing for this great maestro.

For Brosnan, that special moment is reflective of the experiences he had on both productions. "Everyone who is in the Mamma Mia! company has a great sense of humanity; they are egoless, and just there to have a good experience. By the time the cameras roll, you are free to have fun, enjoy yourself and consequently make the audience have a great time."

For her part, Walters sings "Angel Eyes" with Baranski and Seyfried. "In the film, Sophie is having a hard time because Sky isn't answering the phone, so we start to sing. I'm trying to tell her about my experience with Bill but Tanya keeps interrupting me, like friends do. Then Amanda takes over and starts to sing her side of the story. All the ABBA songs have a story-line, and 'Angel Eyes' is about infidelity, getting involved with someone you love and them breaking your heart. I wasn't familiar with the song before, but I loved learning it and the choreography of the number is completely silly.

"Another number Christine and I sing is 'I've Been Waiting for You,' which we also perform with Amanda," the actress continues. "It is a touching song because it is about waiting for your baby to born. It is moving, and Amanda has the voice of an angel, which takes it to a whole new level."

The beautiful and moving song Seyfried shares with Streep and James is "My Love, My Life." Sums Seyfried: "Everyone in the audience will be waiting for this moment, so it is going to be a surprise and a gift. Meryl is a beacon of hope, and this is the point where the story comes full circle."

One of the most poignant moments during the course of production happened on 17 November 2017, when James and Irvine filmed "The Name of the Game." Coincidentally, it was exactly 40 years to the day that this ABBA song was at No. 1 in the pop charts.

Release Your Inner Rocker: Choreography and Dance

No Mamma Mia! production would be complete without the fabulous choreography of Anthony Van Laast. "I have known Anthony forever. He is a great storyteller and has been part of the Mamma Mia! family for 20 years," comments Craymer. "He is a legacy in himself because he choreographed the stage shows, the last movie and returns for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again."

Craymer marvels at the choreographer's ability to bring out the best of actors who aren't necessarily dancers. "He makes people feel they are dancing and makes the audience feel like they could be doing the same moves. He came up with a genius story for the choreography for 'Waterloo,' set in Paris, and it is genius and lots of fun." [Look closely, and you'll see ABBA's Benny Andersson playing the piano at the beginning of the "Waterloo" sequence in the Parisian Café Bonaparte.]

"The script was so exciting," Van Laast beams. "The way Ol Parker threaded the music into the story offered up a lot of staging and choreographic possibilities for me to work with, and when I met him in person we got on so well. I came up with ideas, then Ol did, and we bashed backwards and forwards. It was a very exciting, creative process."

The artist admits that he took a different approach to the choreography on this film, believing that he had to find a new way of looking at each of the numbers. "I can't create a number out of steps. I have to know what the story is, who the people are and their relationship to each other. Also, where we start at the beginning of a number emotionally and dramatically, and where we finish. I have to know all of that, and then the number will evolve."

Van Laast recalls how some of his numbers came together: "'When I Kissed the Teacher' originally had all the students running out of university. I decided I didn't want that because I knew that for 'Dancing Queen,' we'd have the cast running and skipping down the hill. When we thought of graduates in Oxford, we realized they go everywhere on bicycles, so we had them all on bikes ending up with a concert on a barge by the river. Choreographically, I didn't want this piece to be silky smooth because this era was around the punk period. Donna and The Dynamos are contemporary girls, so we gave them a real attitude. Also, it would be correct for them to be wearing platforms, so I choreographed steps that would work with the boots."

Keenan Wynn speaks for her fellow cast when it comes to praise for their indefatigable choreographer: "Anthony is a god," she sums. "'When I Kissed the Teacher' was the most difficult number"we were in platform boots, doing a dance number on a boat"but he worked to our strengths and weaknesses and made them blend together in each routine. He is a ball-buster and incredibly hard-working, but that is the great thing about being a trio. If you start to feel tired, you just look at the other two and their energy, and you can't help but jump back in."

One of the more challenging numbers for the actors involved was "Why Did It Have to Be Me?," a number with quite a Vaudevillian feel to it. "When I read the script, it was set on a yacht and is a flirtation between Young Donna and Young Bill," explains Van Laast. "We played it in a highly exaggerated, stylized way. The challenge of filming it on the sea was extreme because we'd be going up and down on the yacht, and the camera would be doing the same on a different boat. It was exciting and challenging, and I think it will feel original."

Young Bill and Young Donna actually meet because she misses the ferry to the island and jumps on his beautiful yacht instead. "Josh and I filmed the sequence 'Why Did It Have to Be Me?' on the boat in the middle of the sea," recounts James. "It was one of the most brilliant weeks of filming I've ever had. It was scorching hot, the water was crystal clear, and we were singing our hearts out to ABBA. The song has a bluesy, rocky feel, and it is a lovely duet. Bill and Donna are so playful together and they are quite similar, both adventurous, brave and naughty."

Then came "Mamma Mia!," a number Van Laast has designed a number of times in the past. One of the most memorable sequences for audiences, it was crucial for him to look at this in a completely different way. "In the stage show and the first movie, it is a song for Donna. This time it is a song for the Dynamos," he gives. "Working with Lily was exciting because she has a movement background, and movement is in her soul. Also, Jess and Alexa move so well, I was able to raise the bar and keep pushing them to do more and more."

Turning to the legacy cast, Van Laast was thrilled to be working with Baranski and Walters once again. They perform "Angel Eyes" with Seyfried at the Hotel Bella Donna. "I found 'Angel Eyes' hard to do in the beginning," he admits. "I couldn't find a way in there at all. Then Ol came up with the idea that Christine would sing a line, and then Julie would sing a line and so on; that immediately set up the challenge between them. Once I had that idea in my head, I was able to run the number completely. Also, knowing Christine and Julie incredibly well, I knew what they could both bring to the number. They both have such defined styles of movement and are just wonderful to work with. There is a little bit of a competition between the two of them, as well as offering advice to Sophie. It just went 'boom' and flowed right out."

Baranski returns the adoration. "I am not a trained dancer, but Anthony doesn't make you feel bad because the Mamma Mia! idiom is that it has just got to be in your body," she shares. "It is an expression of sensuality, happiness and exuberance. There is no wrong way to do this; just enjoy every moment. That is not do say it is not demanding, but I love that, too. I love the challenge of it. Ultimately, you have to release your inner-rock chick."

Likewise, Walters was delighted to be working with one of her favorite collaborators. "Apart from anything else we have such good fun!," the actress says. "Anthony does push you though; you have got to get dancing, and it is a lot more disciplined than acting. Like all good creatives, Anthony is open to other people's interpretations and ideas, which has been great."

For Goetzman, this sequence proved to be one his favorites in the film. "'Angel Eyes' is a fabulous song, and the humor and pathos Julie and Christine brought to the number was priceless."

Dylan performs "Why Did It Have to Be Me?" as a duet with James on a yacht in the ocean. Turns out nerves were the least of the actor's concerns. "We were practicing in the studio at Shepperton, where there was lot of space and the ground was still, but when it came to doing the routine on the boat we were genuinely struggling to stand up. We were finding it hilarious trying not to fall in the sea. In retrospect, it was helpful for the spirit of the number because we were having fun and were joyous. If anything, we were trying to contain our excitement."

Just like his modern Bill counterpart, Dylan had to shake off nerves on set. Working with the choreographer was initially daunting, but apprehension soon gave way to enjoyment. "Early on, I told Anthony how nervous I was about dancing, but he put my mind at rest when he told me that it wasn't about dancing; it was about storytelling. He was so receptive and open to ideas, which says a lot about him as a choreographer. He works to your strengths, and helps us feel these are our own creation."

One of Van Laast's absolute favorite moments during production was collaborating with the legendary Cher and Garcia on the pivotal "Fernando." He recounts: "Again, this number had to develop the relationship between their characters. Andy plays her long-lost love, and it is about how they come together and rekindle the love they once had. I based the choreography slightly on the Argentinian tango. It gives a feel of sensuality between them and works so well."

The most ambitious number of the movie is "Dancing Queen." Van Laast is refreshingly honest about the challenge of putting the piece together: "'Dancing Queen" was particularly hard because I have done it so many times. I also thought it was the best number in the last film, so I had a real struggle with it. When I examined the script, the fishermen on the boats was a new way into it because normally it is sung by women. This time it would be sung by fishermen on boats with Colin and Stellan. The next challenge was how to choreograph people dancing on boats and people on land, skipping down the hill from the hotel to meet the boats. Then we bring them all together, and that was the easy part because making up steps is not hard for me. What is hard is to make sure that the story is running through and makes sense."

Perhaps the most joyous center piece of the movie for Seyfried is when the entire legacy cast performs "Dancing Queen." In fact, many original cast members from the Mamma Mia! stage show were drafted in to join the ensemble dance team. "When I find out the dads are on their way to the island, I'm with Tanya and Rosie and everybody starts dancing and singing"running down the hill to the jetty to meet all the boats," the actress reveals. "It is just a huge 'Dancing Queen' celebration and so joyous. Everybody is having the time of their lives, and this marks the beginning of everything starting to fall into place."

Firth loved the nuances his choreography brought to a number that could have easily gone repetitive. The actor offers: "Harry hits the ground running. One minute he's got his suitcases in his hand trying to find a way to the island; the next he is with about 150 fisherman and women, dancing and singing with vigor. Once the music blasts out, the sun is shining, you're on the sea and the energy is up; everyone was dancing. It is hard not to find that contagious. Added to that, there was a camera helicopter swooping over us. It was a strange mixture of energies, but I did find it thrilling."

Cooper was also involved in the "Dancing Queen" sequence, and enjoyed it just as much as Firth. "When we are on the island, we filled a beautiful cove with a wonderful routine," says Cooper. "It is where the dads arrive on the jetty for the opening of the hotel, and there is a big embrace and coming together"the ultimate reunion. This is to 'Dancing Queen,' and it is a poignant, exciting part of the film."

Their fellow collaborator, Brosnan, recounts filming the "Dancing Queen" number and owns jumping in with wild abandon: "There is only one way to go with fun, and that is both feet in. If you pull back and you're shy, you will be dead in the water. Once you hear the music, you just have to let it rip. I was with Julie and Christine on the hillside in Vis"with so many support artists, dancing and skipping down the road. You have to commit with any of these songs. You have to have the greatest time and be prepared to make an arse of yourself. You may fall flat on your face, but you will do it with style."

When it came to "My Love, My Life," the poignant number Streep shares with Seyfried and James, Van Laast admits the pressure was on. The last number of the film, it required pitch-perfect emotional balance…and needed to be correct without becoming indulgent. "Ol was so clever in how we go from Lily to Meryl using transformation ideas, and it worked well," wraps the choreographer. "The first time Meryl performed it, she did it for everyone so they could get a feel for the number. I looked at the actors and there was hardly a dry eye. Meryl is genius; it is like working with a Rolls Royce."

Dressing the '70s and Today: Costumes of Here We Go Again

Award-winning costume designer Michele Clapton celebrated the era as much as her cast did. "This movie being a prequel was key for me," she says. "The decade is quite diverse. You go from American Hustle through to this lovely island beach wear, and the shapes are great. What is interesting is that the '70s look is actually contemporary at the moment. I love this cyclical movement in fashion, but it always looks different the next time round; the pieces could be homemade, colorful and clashing but also stylish. We had a Biba look for Young Tanya and then a more eclectic, thrown together mad hippy-chick look for Young Rosie."

Clapton found collaborating with James, Keenan Wynn and Davies refreshing. "What has been so enjoyable about working with the three girls is that they were ready to have fun. They are not self-conscious and were up for trying anything. The '70s era allows that to happen because it is not so far from what we wear today; it's not entirely alien. We embraced the fun of it all and the idea that it was handmade, and we enhanced each character's journey within that." The designer pauses and laughs, "Judy's usual thing is, 'Can it have more sparkle?'"which I think is the best thing."

Her cast weren't the only ones thrilled with Clapton's brilliant skills in bringing the past back to vibrant life. Parker raves: "Michele, our extraordinary costume designer, walked the tightrope really beautifully"making sure the costumes were gorgeous and flamboyant without being preposterous and just natural and easy. The girls loved them."

Exploring the world of Donna in 1979 involved wearing some incredible costumes, and James was thrilled to work with Clapton. "When I went into my first fitting and saw the costumes Michele had picked out, I knew she totally got and understood Donna," the performer notes. "She was so clever with our 'When I Kissed the Teacher' outfits; you can see that we've cut our outfits out of our dorm-room curtains in Oxford. It evokes the '70s, that brown stripped décor, and feels young and thrown together in a cool and inventive way"capturing the time period perfectly."

"It was a great starting point because it kicked off the film," adds Clapton. "It is a classic The Sound of Music-inspired moment where they cut the costumes out from their brown and yellow-striped curtains. We then stuck on stars and gave them fake-fur boas for more of a '70s vibe."

As Young Tanya, the fashionista, Keenan Wynn would spend a great deal of time with Clapton. "Michele knows exactly how to design for a female body," notes the performer. "Tanya gets the most fashion-forward clothes, and the best part was the costume fittings"getting to try on all the outfits and find my character with the clothes Michele was putting on me. She would ask me how I felt in each look, so it was a reciprocal relationship. It was wonderful to feel I had a say in the creation of Young Tanya, even though I was on Michele's genius mission."

The next performance outfit for the Young Dynamos was for Mamma Mia! in the Greek taverna. "I liked the idea that they would get dressed up at any opportunity. Again, these have a homemade feel," says Clapton. "They are wearing normal jeans with added ruffles and stretchy denim tops. We used boots from the early '70s, rather than the platforms of the later time. This was for safety, because they were jumping on tables and running around. Also if you are dressing up, you don't necessarily wear the items from the period; you just take what's around. We found three pairs of silvery gold boots that went well with the costumes, and that is what they wore. Then we added to each costume to make them individual and give elements of each character."

The 1979 Dynamos had some delightfully fantastic costumes created by Clapton, and the actresses portraying them just loved it. "The '70s costumes are crazy, and there is such a variety of styles because we go from chilling in our Oxford bedroom to being on stage in a taverna in Greece," laughs Davies. "The denim flares we wear when we perform 'Mamma Mia!' were my favorite; they are so cool and also comical but they are comfortable to dance in."

Clapton enjoyed the collaborative experience of working with another of her idols, and discusses one of her signature costumes. "Cher wears things incredibly beautifully; she can really bring a costume to life. She is very careful and wants to know the backstory and the reason for each item. Before filming, I went to her house in L.A. to discuss what I was thinking of doing. I wanted Ruby's grand-arrival costume to be a fitted suit the color of the moon.

"Cher was on board with the idea, but during rehearsals she realised the jacket wasn't going to work with the choreography for her song," continues Clapton, "so we designed a fantastic top to go underneath. It had a long, jagged silver-sequin sleeve with liquid-silver cuffs; it caught the light beautifully as she comes down the stairs of the Hotel Bella Donna."

Famed for her own sense of ground-breaking fashion, Cher describes her character's sense of style: "Actually, Ruby's clothes are a little more reserved. She is a grandmother, so she is far more chic. When she wears leopard-skin print, it is not brown and black, it is a tasteful charcoal grey and pale white, with a plain white blouse. It really sets her apart."

Turning to the legacy cast, Clapton revelled in styling the well-known characters. "I updated their look only in as much as their characters would have moved forward. For example, Tanya has married twice; she takes care of herself, has more money and will wear fashionable clothes. Rosie is a writer who has found success, so she still dresses in a colorful way in today's fashion. Out of all the legacy cast, Bill's look has changed the least. He doesn't follow fashion, so it is natural that his clothes will be similar."

There was also extensive discussion about the costume Streep would wear. "The idea from the beginning was that it should be the dungarees because that is the archetypal costume we associate with Donna," discusses the costumer. "The moment we saw the set and the action, we realised it was a no-brainer. To compromise slightly, we made a pretty blouse with a blue pattern on the sleeves to go underneath. When Meryl came into the costume department to try the dungarees on it was quite emotional. It was lovely because it felt like the heart of Mamma Mia! was back."

Of course, Sophie has grown up and changed since the last movie, and her clothing needed to reflect her journey. "Sophie has lost her mum, and Sky is in New York. There is an air of sadness to her, but she has also taken on the hotel," the designer explains. "She can't be the hippy flower child she was before. She is more grounded, and we wanted to reflect this in her costume. Sophie wears lots of jeans and little tops, which are quite stylish and contemporary to give a sense that she has travelled.

One ensemble they particularly loved for Sophie was the dress she wore to her baby's christening. "We found fabric that had a beautiful butterfly pattern on it," says Clapton. "It was actually a top but we needed a dress, so we brought three tops and made a dress out of the material. Young Donna always wears a butterfly around her neck, so we felt it was a nice tie in that Sophie would wear butterflies on her dress in memory of her mother. Another iconic item of costume for Sophie is a multi-colored poncho. This again is a tie in to Young Donna, who wears a little knitted-orange poncho at the beginning of the film."

This day of filming was so poignant for all involved in the production. Producer Goetzman recalls the day: "In the very emotional chapel sequence that involves Meryl, Amanda and Lily, I kept hearing little noises off to the side. I looked over, and the entire grip department might as well have had buckets under their chins"for the amount of tears they were crying. The whole crew was a mess. Just a mess."

U.K. to Croatia: Locations of the Movie

United Kingdom
Filming kicked off on location in Oxford, where Young Donna takes to the stage of the Great Hall, New College, Oxford University with Young Tanya and Rosie to sing "When I Kissed the Teacher."

Despite its name, New College is one of the oldest of the Oxford colleges. It was founded in 1379 by William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, as "The College of St Mary of Winchester in Oxford," the second college in Oxford to be dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Production was based at Shepperton Studios, and a number of sound stages were utilized. The Greek taverna, where Young Donna meets Aunt Sofia (Maria Vacratsis) and performs "Andante, Andante," was built on C Stage. This is also the stage where the Young Dynamos perform "Mamma Mia" to a delighted crowd of locals.

D Stage was home to the Young Dynamo's Oxford College dormitory 1979. Of note, the walls of the dorm were filled with photographs of producer Craymer as a teenager. This was also the stage where the chapel was built for the christening of Sophie (in 1979) and Sophie's baby (in present day).

The vibrant Parisian Café Bonaparte was built on W Stage for "Waterloo," which is performed by Young Donna and Young Harry.

H Stage was home to the largest set build of the project, the Hotel Bella Donna. This is where Sophie is reunited with Sky, the three possible fathers and her long-lost grandmother, Ruby. Wonderfully so, the distinctive blue doors and shutters featured on Sophie's Hotel Bella Donna were the originals saved from the Mamma Mia! The Movie set.

Musical numbers performed on this location include "I've Been Waiting for You," "Fernando," "Dancing Queen," "Angel Eyes" and the end sequence.

The crew set up inside the hall of Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher to shoot the scene in which Young Donna leaves Tanya and Rosie"then disappears through the Heathrow Airport departure gate to Paris. This was also the location used to build Harry's Tokyo boardroom"where he is brokering a huge deal before he realizes family is much more important.

The manicured gardens of Hampton Court Palace doubled for the Paris Tuileries Gardens, where Young Donna and Young Harry take a stroll and get to know each other.

This impressive royal palace, which is set on the picturesque river Thames, had humble beginnings as a large barn on Hampton Manor.

Throughout the decades, however, it was bought and developed by a number of prominent historical figures, amongst them Cardinal Wolsey and King Henry VIII.

British Monarchs particularly associated with Hampton Court are Henry VIII (r 1509-1547), Queen Mary I (r 1553-1558), James I (r 1603-1625), Charles I (r 1625-1649), Charles II (r 1630-85), William III and Mary II, George II (r 1727-1760).

Croatia
After an initial two weeks filming in the U.K., the cast and crew flew to Croatia to shoot all the exterior scenes set on Kalokairi and in mainland Greece. Luckily, the locations department found Vis, the most remote of the Croatian islands. The idyllic location boasted crystal-clear waters, as well as a picturesque shoreline and stunning architecture.

The island has been largely untouched by the development of tourism. It served as a military base for the Yugoslav army, cut off from foreign visitors from the 1950s until 1989. Since the independence of Croatia, the island has begun opening up to the outside world"offering unique traditions, history, cultural heritage and natural beauty.

Production was based on Vis for 5 weeks in total, utilizing numerous locations around the island.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again filmed on Vis Harbour to capture the fateful moment Young Donna misses the ferry and is rescued by Young Bill (1979). It also filmed the modern-day Bill and Harry at the ferry office (under the watchful eye of the Greek Official (Omid Djalili)"when the dads are unable to board the boat to visit Sophie on Kalokairi.

A vibrant market place was erected in Karolina square, complete with breads and products shipped over from Greece. The scene in which Alexio (Gerard Monaco) saves Apollonia (Anna Antoniades) from a loveless future was filmed outside the landmark Church of St. Jeronim.

Srebrna Bay, also known as Silver Beach, was the location used for Young Donna and Young Sam's romantic night-time stroll along the beach. The taverna on mainland Greece, where Bill and Harry work out how to get to Kalokairi, was actually Restaurant Jastozera in Komiža.

The most impressive location on Vis was Barjaci Bay, which was transformed into Kalokairi, complete with its famous jetty. This was the sight of the joyous "Dancing Queen" sequence involving 300 dancers"as Bill, Harry and Sky arrive on the island and are greeted by Sophie, Sam, Tanya and Rosie.

All the exterior Kalokairi scenes were filmed on a remote Croatian island. Firth, along with the entire cast and crew, fell in love with this special location. "Vis is one of the best places I've ever worked. It is a gorgeous island in the Adriatic. Everything from the hospitality we experienced, the people, the food to the incredible atmosphere of the place. All of us were rather heartbroken to be leaving Vis. If we could have spent the entire time there, you wouldn't have had to pay us!"

Sparkle on the Screen: Legacy of Alan Macdonald

From The Queen and Kinky Boots to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Victoria & Abdul, there was no production designer in the world quite like the late Alan Macdonald, whose final vision was brought to life on the set of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. With his final work, Macdonald left a legacy of beauty and joy for audiences to celebrate.

Fellow production designer John Frankish, who partnered with the master production designer, reflects on their time together: "Collaborating with Alan was a real pleasure. He'd bought a sensibility to the project, and a tenacity to the whole film, that was remarkable. Alan's legacy on Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is that we were able to follow, quite closely, the look he had envisaged for the film."

To a person, the cast and crew was enchanted by Macdonald's imagination, as well as his ability to create dreamlike sets"ones that felt as if you were either being transported to an exotic island…or back in time to the age of the flower power. "The set was so jaw-droppingly magical and beautiful," lauds Baranski, "that we were all just teary eyed when we walked onto it. We thought, 'We want to live here.'"

Although the close-knit team was devastated by the loss of such an unparalleled talent and genuinely kind person, they take the smallest of comfort in knowing that his work will live on forever. "He was a unique and extraordinary man whom I adored," says Craymer. "We spent many, many happy hours conferring over every design detail while usually sipping ginger beer. He had such a clear vision of the island and the heart of the film; he really got Mamma Mia! and its spirit.

"Alan so brilliantly took us back to the origins of the story in 1979 and so seamlessly brought us back to the present day on that beautiful island," the producer concludes. "He had clear ambition and a sense of scale. Everyone who worked with him made sure that they remained totally loyal to his design. It is truly heartbreaking that he is not with us to see his extraordinary work sparkle on the screen."

Principal photography wrapped, writer/director Parker reflects on the production of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, and what he dreams moviegoers will take away from this labor of love: "We hopefully made a movie that will appeal to both people who loved the first movie and a film that brings a new story for new audiences. It has a gorgeous cast, a stunning collection of songs, and everything that I could throw into it"music, laughs, joy, happiness and sunshine."

United Kingdom
Filming kicked off on location in Oxford, where Young Donna takes to the stage of the Great Hall, New College, Oxford University with Young Tanya and Rosie to sing "When I Kissed the Teacher."

Despite its name, New College is one of the oldest of the Oxford colleges. It was founded in 1379 by William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, as "The College of St Mary of Winchester in Oxford," the second college in Oxford to be dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Production was based at Shepperton Studios, and a number of sound stages were utilized. The Greek taverna, where Young Donna meets Aunt Sofia (Maria Vacratsis) and performs "Andante, Andante," was built on C Stage. This is also the stage where the Young Dynamos perform "Mamma Mia" to a delighted crowd of locals.

D Stage was home to the Young Dynamo's Oxford College dormitory 1979. Of note, the walls of the dorm were filled with photographs of producer Craymer as a teenager. This was also the stage where the chapel was built for the christening of Sophie (in 1979) and Sophie's baby (in present day).

The vibrant Parisian Café Bonaparte was built on W Stage for "Waterloo," which is performed by Young Donna and Young Harry.

H Stage was home to the largest set build of the project, the Hotel Bella Donna. This is where Sophie is reunited with Sky, the three possible fathers and her long-lost grandmother, Ruby. Wonderfully so, the distinctive blue doors and shutters featured on Sophie's Hotel Bella Donna were the originals saved from the Mamma Mia! The Movie set.

Musical numbers performed on this location include "I've Been Waiting for You," "Fernando," "Dancing Queen," "Angel Eyes" and the end sequence.

The crew set up inside the hall of Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher to shoot the scene in which Young Donna leaves Tanya and Rosie"then disappears through the Heathrow Airport departure gate to Paris. This was also the location used to build Harry's Tokyo boardroom"where he is brokering a huge deal before he realizes family is much more important.

The manicured gardens of Hampton Court Palace doubled for the Paris Tuileries Gardens, where Young Donna and Young Harry take a stroll and get to know each other.

This impressive royal palace, which is set on the picturesque river Thames, had humble beginnings as a large barn on Hampton Manor.

Throughout the decades, however, it was bought and developed by a number of prominent historical figures, amongst them Cardinal Wolsey and King Henry VIII. British Monarchs particularly associated with Hampton Court are Henry VIII (r 1509-1547), Queen Mary I (r 1553-1558), James I (r 1603-1625), Charles I (r 1625-1649), Charles II (r 1630-85), William III and Mary II, George II (r 1727-1760).

Croatia

After an initial two weeks filming in the U.K., the cast and crew flew to Croatia to shoot all the exterior scenes set on Kalokairi and in mainland Greece. Luckily, the locations department found Vis, the most remote of the Croatian islands. The idyllic location boasted crystal-clear waters, as well as a picturesque shoreline and stunning architecture.

The island has been largely untouched by the development of tourism. It served as a military base for the Yugoslav army, cut off from foreign visitors from the 1950s until 1989. Since the independence of Croatia, the island has begun opening up to the outside world"offering unique traditions, history, cultural heritage and natural beauty.

Production was based on Vis for 5 weeks in total, utilizing numerous locations around the island.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again filmed on Vis Harbour to capture the fateful moment Young Donna misses the ferry and is rescued by Young Bill (1979). It also filmed the modern-day Bill and Harry at the ferry office (under the watchful eye of the Greek Official (Omid Djalili)"when the dads are unable to board the boat to visit Sophie on Kalokairi.

A vibrant market place was erected in Karolina square, complete with breads and products shipped over from Greece. The scene in which Alexio (Gerard Monaco) saves Apollonia (Anna Antoniades) from a loveless future was filmed outside the landmark Church of St. Jeronim.

Srebrna Bay, also known as Silver Beach, was the location used for Young Donna and Young Sam's romantic night-time stroll along the beach. The taverna on mainland Greece, where Bill and Harry work out how to get to Kalokairi, was actually Restaurant Jastozera in Komiža.

The most impressive location on Vis was Barjaci Bay, which was transformed into Kalokairi, complete with its famous jetty. This was the sight of the joyous "Dancing Queen" sequence involving 300 dancers"as Bill, Harry and Sky arrive on the island and are greeted by Sophie, Sam, Tanya and Rosie.

All the exterior Kalokairi scenes were filmed on a remote Croatian island. Firth, along with the entire cast and crew, fell in love with this special location. "Vis is one of the best places I've ever worked. It is a gorgeous island in the Adriatic. Everything from the hospitality we experienced, the people, the food to the incredible atmosphere of the place. All of us were rather heartbroken to be leaving Vis. If we could have spent the entire time there, you wouldn't have had to pay us!"

Sparkle on the Screen: Legacy of Alan Macdonald

From The Queen and Kinky Boots to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Victoria & Abdul, there was no production designer in the world quite like the late Alan Macdonald, whose final vision was brought to life on the set of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. With his final work, Macdonald left a legacy of beauty and joy for audiences to celebrate.

Fellow production designer John Frankish, who partnered with the master production designer, reflects on their time together: "Collaborating with Alan was a real pleasure. He'd bought a sensibility to the project, and a tenacity to the whole film, that was remarkable. Alan's legacy on Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is that we were able to follow, quite closely, the look he had envisaged for the film."

To a person, the cast and crew was enchanted by Macdonald's imagination, as well as his ability to create dreamlike sets"ones that felt as if you were either being transported to an exotic island…or back in time to the age of the flower power. "The set was so jaw-droppingly magical and beautiful," lauds Baranski, "that we were all just teary eyed when we walked onto it. We thought, 'We want to live here.'"

Although the close-knit team was devastated by the loss of such an unparalleled talent and genuinely kind person, they take the smallest of comfort in knowing that his work will live on forever. "He was a unique and extraordinary man whom I adored," says Craymer. "We spent many, many happy hours conferring over every design detail while usually sipping ginger beer. He had such a clear vision of the island and the heart of the film; he really got Mamma Mia! and its spirit.

"Alan so brilliantly took us back to the origins of the story in 1979 and so seamlessly brought us back to the present day on that beautiful island," the producer concludes. "He had clear ambition and a sense of scale. Everyone who worked with him made sure that they remained totally loyal to his design. It is truly heartbreaking that he is not with us to see his extraordinary work sparkle on the screen."

Principal photography wrapped, writer/director Parker reflects on the production of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, and what he dreams moviegoers will take away from this labor of love: "We hopefully made a movie that will appeal to both people who loved the first movie and a film that brings a new story for new audiences. It has a gorgeous cast, a stunning collection of songs, and everything that I could throw into it"music, laughs, joy, happiness and sunshine."

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Release Date: July 19th, 2018



 
 
 




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