WARNING: Spoiler ahead for Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again.
As the trailers suggested and many critics have confirmed, Streep’s Donna Sheridan is revealed at the start of the film to have died one year ago.
Although the actress has shot new scenes for the movie, Donna is deceased.
But while many fans have assumed that Streep’s schedule just didn’t allow for her to take centre stage again, writer-director Ol Parker has explained that that’s not necessarily the case.
“If it had worked out that Meryl was going to be the lead for the whole thing, then they would have waited for a time when Meryl could be the lead for the whole thing,” he told Vulture.
“It was about finding the best story to tell that worked for everybody and this was the story we settled on.”
When the idea came from Richard Curtis and his daughter Scarlett to take inspiration from The Godfather II and do a prequel-meets-sequel, Parker realised Donna had to die.
“I think it’s the most meaningful and emotional and impactful way to tell that story and this was my suggestion,” Parker explained.
“Obviously it was greatly discussed with everyone and Meryl was thrilled and delighted with it.”
The film is in cinemas today on a wave of mostly positive reviews – far more positive, in fact, than the first movie, which received a very polarising reception.
Lily James is on board playing the younger Donna, and has had very positive feedback from critics.
Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard and Colin Firth all return for more ABBA-centric fun.
Songs used this time include Andante Andante, The Name of the Game, Knowing Me Knowing You, Angel Eyes and Fernando.
Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is out now.