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Mamma Mia: The Movie - Phyllida Lloyd interview

Mamma Mia: The Movie

Interview by Rob Carnevale

PHYLLIDA Lloyd talks about some of the challenges of directing Mamma Mia: The Movie for the big screen, having already successfully taken it around the globe for the stage. She also reveals why certain songs have been omitted.

Q. Why has it taken so long for Mamma Mia to make the leap from stage to screen? Was the stage run the trial run for the film?
Phyllida Lloyd: I guess so. I wasn’t really thinking about a film, except that I knew that unlike a lot of other stage musicals we had that advantage that we already were a location; we already had Greece. A lot of stage shows have a lot more difficulty finding a life on screen.

Q. How did you cope with your first feature film? What was the major difference from the stage version?
Phyllida Lloyd: I think being able to frankly get inside the characters and really inside their souls. Also, to make each song have a different function in the story. I wanted us to shoot each one according to its needs and to really make them powerful and individual. I think it was about releasing the bigger emotions, such as when Meryl sang Winner Takes It All and the camera was watching every detail. It was some kind of bigger experience. But the landscape also brought a whole new epic dimension to it which I was able to capitalise on.

Q. Why did you take some songs out of the production and add some new ones? I’m sure some fans will be disappointed not to see Knowing Me, Knowing You
Phyllida Lloyd: Time works in such a different way on-screen and we wanted every song to really earn its place in the story. We just felt that some songs… Dancing Queen became an epic, Pied Piper journey that really filled the space that was allowed to it. But Knowing Me, Knowing You just didn’t seem to move the story forward, or Name of the Game in the end as brilliantly as it had been sung by Amanda. So, it was just about really looking at it and appreciating that it was the same story that needed to be told in a slightly different way.

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