WARNING: Spoiler ahead for Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again.
The musical has had enormous success thus far, but fans have been surprised to find out within the first few minutes that Steep’s character Donna had died one year earlier.
In a new interview, Craymer has spoken about Streep being happy to take a backseat and let the newer stars – such as Lily James as a younger Donna – step up to the plate.
“To be honest, she was always a part of it. Would we have done another film without her?” Craymer told The Hollywood Reporter.
“She was so glorious in the first movie and has so much affection for Mamma Mia! So, she was always a part of a conversation of another film.
“I think for her, it was a matter of what and how, and we also did chat occasionally about it. It was a matter of the right script.
“Also, Meryl likes to conquer new things, and she had played Donna Sheridan and been singing nine or so ABBA songs in the first movie. I think she felt that she liked the idea of leaving this to the younger ones and she wanted to be involved, but she wasn’t gonna take on such a big role.”
“So, I think that helped explore the emotional heft of what [director and co-writer] Ol Parker wrote in the fact that it’s a story of life and marriage and loss and love, but also it’s very important to Meryl what song she does.
“If she was gonna sing, My Love, My Life is a very, very strong song like The Winner Takes It All. It’s a huge storytelling song, it’s got a big emotional punch and, of course, she has this incredible voice.
“So, I think there were many decisions there, but it came very much from Meryl being a part of all of them.”
Parker himself had previously indicated that Streep’s low screen-time was not a matter of her having too busy a schedule.
“It was about finding the best story to tell that worked for everybody and this was the story we settled on,” he told Vulture.
“I think it’s the most meaningful and emotional and impactful way to tell that story and this [Donna’s death] was my suggestion.
“Obviously it was greatly discussed with everyone and Meryl was thrilled and delighted with it.”
Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is out now.