‘Mamma Mia!’ Star Amanda Seyfried: From ‘Mean Girl’ To Meryl Streep’s Daughter

Actress says she knew little of ABBA before taking lead in film adaptation of Broadway musical based on Swedish pop group's music.

When 22-year-old Amanda Seyfried was growing up, the songs of disco-era Swedish pop group ABBA weren’t exactly on her radar.

“I remember when the A*Teens did ‘Dancing Queen’ — that’s it,” she said. “That’s all I knew. I wasn’t really interested in knowing more, I guess. I was too into ‘NSYNC.”

Now, more than a decade after she auditioned for the title role in “Annie” on Broadway to no avail, she’s playing the central character, Sophie, in “Mamma Mia!,” the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical based on the catchy tunes of ABBA.

Probably best known to moviegoers as the hollow-headed Karen in “Mean Girls” (and to HBO subscribers as Sarah on “Big Love”), Seyfried has now become one of Hollywood’s “it” girls, appearing alongside current hot young things Blake Lively, Emma Roberts and Kristen Stewart on the cover of August’s Vanity Fair. She’ll co-star with Megan Fox, Adam Brody and Amy Sedaris in “Jennifer’s Body,” the comedy/horror film written by “Juno” scribe Diablo Cody. And though she must share the “Mamma Mia!” spotlight with film luminaries such as Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth, it is Amanda’s happy face, after all, that adorns those billboards you’ve been seeing all over town.

Despite her lack of familiarity with the music, Seyfried was eager for the challenge of playing Sophie.

“I heard about it, then I found out that Meryl Streep was going to be playing the mother, and I was like, ‘I can sing, I’m an actress, and I could actually portray Meryl’s daughter,’ ” she recalled. “So I auditioned with high-intensity energy, and I got it.”

But when the initial excitement wore off, the fear set in.

“I was horrified,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. OK, I got the movie — wow — but what a huge responsibility to play opposite Meryl Streep. What if I don’t do it right?’ ”

Because Streep is one of the most respected actresses working today, Seyfried’s fears are understandable. But she needn’t have worried: The elder actress was just as impressed by her onscreen daughter as Seyfried was in awe of her “mother.”

“I think she’s amazing,” Streep said. “She’s so delicate and so teeny, and you just can’t imagine that this huge power-pop voice comes out of there. But she has the pipes.”

Those pipes didn’t form overnight. Seyfried has been singing everything from show tunes to arias since the age of 11. So with the praise of Streep — and many others soon to follow when “Mamma Mia!” hits theaters Friday (July 18) — is Seyfried running out to record an album?

“That definitely is not on my list,” she said, adding that she would consider doing another musical. “The singing thing’s definitely a part of my life that I never thought would be public when I started acting. But if a role comes up and it seems exciting, then yeah. Because you know what? Acting and singing at the same time brings it up a level.”

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