Spoilers ahead. 10 years after the release of the first movie, the Mamma Mia! sequel is here with all of the original stars back for round two. Yes, all of the original stars. Meryl Streep is in Mamma Mia! 2, even though there was a lot of speculation that her character, Donna, had died after Streep wasn’t heavily featured in the trailers. And, yeah, her character did die, so everyone was right there. The point is, Streep is still in the movie.
That said, it does take a while to get to her. Since Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is both a sequel and a prequel, viewers get to see Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and Sam (Pierce Brosnan) several years after the events of the first movie as they work to reopen Donna’s hotel about a year after her death. Sophie’s two other dads and Donna’s best friends fit into the story because they come back to Kalokairi for the big opening party. On the other side of things, we find out more about Donna’s life right before she got pregnant with Sophie, and in these scenes Donna is portrayed by Lily James. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for Streep, because there are no flashbacks to the timespan between the end of the first movie and her death. (Speaking of, how sad is it that Sam and Donna only got four years together after all that time?)
Because of this, Streep’s only two scenes are at the very end of the movie. During Sophie’s baby’s christening, Donna appears in front of her daughter in church, and they sing "My Love, My Life" together in what is by far the most emotional scene in the movie. Streep is also part of the full cast singalong to "Super Trouper" that closes out the movie.
We do see Streep before this, though. Sophie has decided to rename the hotel the Bella Donna, and there are pictures of Donna everywhere. Sophie and Sam will be standing there talking about how much they miss her, and there’s a photo of Meryl Streep just lurking in the background. Honestly, we should all have these hung up in our homes.
As of now, it’s a chicken and egg situation as far as whether Donna was killed off because Streep didn’t want to be in very much of the movie, or if that was the original plan. Streep hasn’t spoken out too much about Here We Go Again, but she did speak very favorably about it and express her excitement in a featurette released to promote the movie.
"I really never thought that there would be a sequel," she said. "When this script came, it took my breath away." She added the the film has a "indescribable joy" and is "pure fun." And it sounds like it was easy to get back into the swing of things: "The music starts up and you put on the spandex, and honey, it all comes together."
The three-time Oscar-winner also spoke about her time filming in an interview with Entertainment Tonight — and hinted at how little she was on set. When talking about working with Cher, who plays her mother in the film despite their three-year age difference, Streep said, "It was fantastic. I came on the set the day that she sang ‘Fernando.’ That was my first day… And she just lifted the lid off the place! I mean, she steals the movie!"
Of course, movies are rarely shot in order, but considering Streep’s first day was also Cher’s — and the trailer implies that Cher role isn’t a huge one — her words definitely could have been a hint to those who already thought Streep wasn’t in the movie very much.
But even though Streep isn’t in the film a ton, she definitely makes an impact. She gets the most tear-jerking scene of the movie and is always watching via those background pictures even when she’s not really there.
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