Film

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again – Alexa Davies stars in the summer's biggest film

The star on singing with Benny, meeting Cher and living out her Abba dreams while playing the young Julie Walters in 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again'

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Sun, sea, sex and superb songs. The Mamma Mia! formula is simple but so very effective.

Ten years after the original film’s winning combination of Abba songs, A-list acting talent, and stunning scenery comes a sequel that shows every sign of repeating its success.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again follows Amanda Seyfried as Sophie as she prepares to open the Bella Donna hotel on the island. But the timeline is split.

So we also head back to the events that led to her birth – showing how and why she acquired three possible dads (Pierce Brosnan, Stellen Skarsgård and Colin Firth), with a younger group headed by Lily James in the role of Donna (originally played by Meryl Streep) telling the story of a summer of love.

Rising star Alexa Davies, 23, previously best known for roles in TV sitcoms Detectorists and Raised By Wolves, says the chance to play the young version of Julie Walters as Rosie was a dream come true.

Take a Chance On Me

Alexa Davies: “Before my first audition I was shaking. I only had to do a couple of scenes from the film and sing ‘I Have a Dream’. But it went ok. I walked out thinking it had gone better than expected.

“Then I got a call to go back in and I had to sing, dance and act. The triple threat! And I am not a dancer at all. I gave it my all. And I am lucky in that Julie doesn’t think she is much of a dancer either, so I could put a comedy spin on it. The third and final audition was the same again… but this time with Americans in the room!

“I was working on the bar at the Palace Theatre when I heard I’d got the job. Ol Parker, the writer and director, called and I was sat on the stairs in the theatre while the show was on – Harry Potter and whatever part it was then. When he said ‘and Cher’s going to be there’, I just stopped listening. It was too much to take in. It still feels quite unreal.”

Knowing Me, Knowing You

“Julie Walters is just the best woman in the whole world. She is my hero, oh my god! So to be playing the younger version of her is incredible. When I was really young, my parents taped Behind The Scenes of Acorn Antiques the Musical for my sister. I was just in awe of Julie and Victoria Wood and Celia Imrie, these amazing, beautiful women being so funny and a bit silly. I was besotted with them. And following Julie’s career as I have grown up, I think she is the best actress in the whole world.

“My career has been quite sitcom heavy and I was talking about my next one, Dead Pixels, and she asked if it was live audience. Then we got on to the subject of Dinnerladies. I loved it so much. She said how nervous she used to be. She looked up and said: ‘I’m Sorry Vix, I loved it but I wouldn’t do it again!’ My heart just went. I miss Victoria Wood so much. Being with Julie was amazing. If I have a career half as varied as her, I’ll be very happy.”

The Name of the Game

“Whenever we had dance rehearsals together, Pierce Brosnan was there – so James Bond would walk over and give me a little cuddle and ask how I was doing. They were all such wonderful people and so welcoming.

“There was a moment when I came in to work at Shepperton Studios and suddenly a massive trailer had arrived. Double the size of everybody else’s. It was huge. I have never seen a trailer that big!

“And you know when someone walks into a room and you can feel their presence? Cher is like that. But she was so wonderful, so lovely and smiley. I liked the idea that Cher was a new kid too. She was one of us.

“Lily and I ran over to her and bombarded her with questions. We used to say we felt like competition winners, it was just bizarre.”

I Have A Dream

“You know what? I feel awful, but I had basically a three-week holiday. We filmed on the beautiful island of Vis in Croatia. It is the most amazing place in the world.

“But I only did three days of shooting the whole time I was there. I saw the whole island, I went to every restaurant, I sunbathed, I had a few glasses of wine every now and then, we had a pool. It was just heaven. This was my first ever studio movie and the bar has been set too high. If I ever do another one, I might be an absolute nightmare!”

Thank You For The Music

“Benny looked after the whole soundtrack. He is amazing, such a cool dude. He was there whenever we did any recording. No pressure! In the film, a character called Lazarus sings Kisses of Fire, but Jess and I were asked to record it for the soundtrack.

We were in rehearsals and because we were done early, they took us to Air Studios to meet Benny. Benny started playing the piano and we started singing. He said: ‘Get in the booth!’ So we just recorded it. Because you can’t say no to Benny Andersson.

“I met Bjorn as well, because he is in When I Kissed The Teacher. And I sit on his lap! There is a moment where I actually kiss Bjorn Ulvaeus on the cheek, bless him.

“You would think you would get sick of it. But even now, in the shower, I only sing Abba songs – and some of the great ones in the film are not even that well known. I love Kisses of Fire. But Angel Eyes is my favourite number in the whole film – that is Julie Walters and Christine being hilarious. They are amazing together.”

Without a song or a dance, what are we?

“We would be miserable, wouldn’t we? Imagine life without Abba. I wouldn’t be an actor if there was no song or dance. My love for it came from believing I was going to be a musical theatre star. That was before I realised I wasn’t much of a singer or a dancer – so I focused on the one part of the triple threat that I could.

“It is a great escape, this film. I think the original was such a hit because of the pure joy of it. There is no cynicism. Everybody knows the music and feels happy and comfortable listening to it. And to have Meryl Streep singing it? And Pierce Brosnan and Julie Walters? It is so carefree and funny – there is no way you can feel sad after watching it. It is pure joy. It is about bringing joy. Especially in a time like this, everyone could use a little joy.”

Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again is out in cinemas on July 20.

Image: Universal

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