When we first heard that Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan were coming to Skopelos to make an ABBA film we were sceptical to say the least, but as it turned out it they did, and for the month of September 2007 the island turned into celebrity heaven.
The prospect of having an entire film cast and crew invading the small town of Skopelos was somewhat daunting, but remarkably they fitted in to the laidback atmosphere of the island and, although it was quite surreal to have so many famous faces around every corner, locals and movie folk coexisted in harmony.
I am not sure that I can feel sorry for the fact that Pierce Brosnan will be forever labelled with his 007 tag, after all it has made him very wealthy, but it must irritate him slightly! He does mask it well though as of course on Skopelos that is what he was known as, and the whisper “James Bond” followed him around the streets like the rustle of leaves in the wind. It came to the forefront one day though when he went to the lady with the vegetable stall near Magic Cars. She looked up from her endeavours and seeing the legendary spy in front of her, screamed and ran off to get her mother (in Greek) “mama -mama come James Bond, James Bond is here!”
As with all of the actors, Mr Brosnan took all the attention in good stead though and often posed for photographs. The Blue Bar was a favourite watering hole for him during his stay where he mingled with locals and crew alike and one night even ordered a Martini much to the amazement of all (it’s a favourite haunt for UK ex-pats) but he stopped short of uttering the famous line! Vangelis the bar owner welcomed many members of the crew but one day he told me that the previous night he had had Pees and Strip together, which took me a few moments to work out that he meant Pierce and Streep!
In fact we spent a lot of days doing double takes as we sat on the waterfront as we didn’t know the cast list and yet another “face” would appear. Mr Darcy (Colin Firth) would wander by then Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks-producer) would drive past. Then educating Rita (Julie Walters) would sit down in the cafe. It was all very odd especially when you add the French Lieutenants Woman and 007 into the mix! I actually realised Ms Walters was in the film when she sat next to me in a cafe during a England football game (televised) and we said hello because I thought I knew her from the island! Social gaffe! But as with all the others she was very charming and relaxed.
Main locations on the island were Amarantos (which is a place little known by anybody not from Skopelos itself) and Agios Ioannis which was the church on the rock used for the wedding scene. But why did they pick Skopelos? The director Phyllida Lloyd spotted the island and fell for its beautiful sea and forests. Annette her agent told me it was the beautiful green woods that come down to the sea to meet the turquoise waters that made her fall in love with the island. Indeed many of the film people did and before they left there was a veritable flurry of house hunting. Pierce Brosnan wasn’t one of those, as he already has six houses, but where he was staying, in the Bakers houses that overlook Skopelos town, he said he had the best nights sleep ever and indeed that area is renowned for its peaceful nature!
Of course they eventually had to leave and most of the islanders are eagerly looking forward to seeing what they have made of their little paradise in the Aegean. Their stay was enjoyable and harmonious and as they left, ABBA’s boat sailed past my land, I couldn’t hear any music though!