‘It Was Absurd:’ Stellan Skarsgård Thought Casting Him In Mamma Mia! Was Ridiculous, But He Revealed Why He Said Yes

Photo of author
Written By Maya Cantina

Stellan Skarsgård might be known for his broody collaborations with director Lars von Trier (Melancholia, Nymphomaniac), for his Golden Globe-winning work in the HBO miniseries Chernobyl or as the terrifying Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in Dune and Dune: Part Two. But to some circles of the Internet, he’s simply Bill Anderson from the forever rewatchable Mamma Mia! movies.

It was a joyfully silly role that was seemingly out of character for the otherwise serious Swede, an unexpectedness that the actor himself was taken back by when he was hired to not only act but also dance and sing, too, in the modern movie musical. Skarsgård relayed as such during a sit-down with Variety to discuss some of his most iconic roles: 

It was absurd to ask me to be in a musical. I can’t sing, I can’t dance. And then I saw it was also Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth, and they can’t sing and dance either. So I felt a little safer there. Then I understood that we were just supposed to be like in a film that is produced by men, and directed by men and men in the leads, you have the bimbo, and we were the bimbo in this female production. We didn’t have to be anything but look cute and be silly.

In both the 2008 jukebox rom-com Mamma Mia! and its sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again a decade later, Stellan plays one of the three former suitors of hotel owner Donna Sheridan (Meryl Streep)—alongside Pierce Brosnan’s Sam Carmichael and Colin Firth’s Harry Bright—who are brought to Greece unbeknownst to Donna by her daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) in the hopes that one of them is Sophie’s dad. 

Brosnan and Firth weren’t known for their musical bonafides either—Brosnan’s singing, in particular, was memorably awful—so Stellan fit right in with the genre newbies. Of course, the rest of the Mamma Mia! cast was packed with musical-theater regulars like Christine Baranski, Dominic Cooper and Seyfried, so Skarsgård knew that the song-and-dance heavy-hitting would be left to them. For the three elder men, he says: 

There was only one thing that was asked of us, and that was have fun. Because if we don’t have fun, it won’t be a film.

And it seemed they did have fun, with Stellan citing a “Voulez-Vous” dance lesson with Colin that went awry: 

Me and Colin coming to dance lessons with our snacks and our little Paul Smith shirts and everything, and 60 dancers that are dressed up like the SSR. We really tried for a month and a half trying to dance to ‘Voulez-Vous,’ and we failed.

Who knows if Stellan Skarsgård will be back crooning and grooving as Bill Anderson in the much-rumored Mamma Mia 3. And Meryl Streep has an idea on how Donna could return for another sequel, FYI—but if he does, we will surely be seated. We like seeing the Swede get silly every once in a while! 

In the meantime, you can revisit the first two Mamma Mia! movies with a Netflix subscription. 

SOURCE

Leave a Comment

data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data data