Stellan Skarsgård Compares Making ‘Mamma Mia!’ to a Lars Von Trier Film: Both Are So ‘Relaxed’ on Set

Stellan Skarsgård is finding the “Melancholia” in fellow marriage film “Mamma Mia!”

Skarsgård compared filming the beloved 2008 ABBA-centric musical movie to starring in a Lars Von Trier film as “Mamma Mia!” echoed the same “relaxed” feeling as leading a Von Trier film like “Nymphomaniac” or “Dogville.”

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“I don’t think I’ve ever felt more relaxed on a movie set,” Skarsgård told Vogue of “Mamma Mia!,” adding, “except with Lars von Trier — which I know sounds strange. But his films are very arthouse, to where I always felt like I could take risks, and it was the same with ‘Mamma Mia!'”

He continued, “The thing you want to achieve in a film is real life, which is hard to capture and cannot be done without you feeling safe. You can be skilled and elegant, but the charm of the film is that we were all enjoying ourselves immensely.”

Skarsgård admitted that he had to let go of the emphasis on “pretentious” filmmaking when he agreed to star in “Mamma Mia!.”

“Having not done anything quite so light before, I came into ‘Mamma Mia!’ pretty ambitious,” he said. “I said I had some thoughts about my role, and I hadn’t gotten more than five words out before all these women turned and looked at me with an expression of, Oh, yeah? It was then that I realized I shouldn’t try and act, I should just be good-looking and funny.”

And as for the possibility of the rumored “Mamma Mia 3,” Skarsgård said, “I doubt any of us would shy away from doing another one. It’s just a matter of finding enough songs to come up with a new story. I will be in an urn by the time there’s a script for ‘Mamma Mia 3,’ but I will gladly participate as a pile of ashes.”

While “Mamma Mia!” infamously had a slew of cast parties in Greece with karaoke and dancing all night, Skarsgård recently told IndieWire’s Ryan Lattanzio in a 20th anniversary oral history of “Dogville” that working with Von Trier also involved “a lot of alcohol.”

“We shoot five days a week, and then on the weekends we had big parties at the pension we were staying at,” Skarsgård said. “We had a lot of fun. […] All films with Lars are memorable because they’re all films that have never been made before. It’s a delicious thing to be working with. But of course, it was very exciting. We were living on a small pension in rural Sweden, and it was a fabulous cast. With Harriet Andersson, Lauren Bacall, everybody. It was amazing.”

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