Most people can remember the fun and whimsy from Mary Poppins, whether they watched it as a young child or with their own kids, and now Disney has capitalized on that success by making a sequel, Mary Poppins Returns. I had the pleasure of attending the Mary Poppins Returns cast interview and press junket a few weeks back, so here is some of the inside scoop I learned and some fun cast photos!
Moderated by producer Marc Platt, in attendance for the press junket were:
· Emily Blunt (“Mary Poppins”)
· Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Jack”)
· Ben Whishaw (“Michael Banks”)
· Emily Mortimer (“Jane Banks”)
· Director Rob Marshall
· Marc Shaiman (Music by)
· Scott Wittman (Music by)
· John Deluca (Producer)
· David Magee (Screenwriter)
Did you know that Mary Poppins Returns was director Rob Marshall’s first musical? Once you see the movie (which comes out on December 19), you’ll see why that’s really surprising. Given the pressure to make Mary Poppins as successful and fun as the first one, Marshall pulls it off with a cast and supporting crew in a way you’re going to love. According to him, “the guiding message of this film about finding light in the darkness is honestly what drew me to it….” and that comes through in the movie, as does the fact that this is his most personal film because of that very same approach.
Emily described how she heard that she was being sought for the infamous role of Mary Poppins, who is “practically perfect in every way” and isn’t shy of saying it. The “ceremonial” air to the phonecall was an “extraodinary, unparalled moment” for Emily, because she was going to portray such an iconic character. She shared how important it was that she didn’t appear as a cheap impersonation of the original Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews, as she should be treasured and preserved in her own way for what she did. You’ll see in the movie that Emily does exactly that for her own portrayal: it is exactly her own way.
Perhaps the biggest honor? Rob told her that there was no one else on the planet that could play the role as she could. They spent approximately 18 months before they started rehearsing, and in that time, they talked about her so much, finding her nuances and how she was basically an adrenaline junky who loved the adventures she would take with the kids. And adventures they are, full of dreamy sequences and special affects that put you right back into the lives of the Banks family.
Listening to Lin-Manuel Miranda talk is fun on its own. His facial expressions and phrasing are so appealing, I could listen to him read math equations. I wanted him to break into song! He didn’t have time for that, but he did tell us how varied the filming was, from dancing with penguins one day to riding with 500 bicyclists the next. His son was fortunate enough to visit filming and his eyes would get as big as saucers, Lin-Manuel shared. Can you imagine what a dream that has to be for a child?
Ben Whishaw isn’t a dad in real life, “I don’t know what it’s like, but I thought about my brother and about how difficult it is for him to have those two little ones and the anxiety and the stress and the money and jobs and everything and food.” You would never know that Ben doesn’t have real-life experience to draw from.
Even if you’re not a fan of musicals, you can relate to how emotive they can be, and Marc Shaiman shared how he grew up listening to Mary Poppins. He really wanted to evoke the lyrics, and the chords and things that made him feel so deeply as he did when he was four. Little did he know that one day, he would have the opportunity to incorporate every single thing he learned from that movie into a job on this one. Isn’t that what we all wish for in life, the chance to make a favorite fantasy or dream into a reality?
The Mary Poppins Returns cast interview went quickly but was very enlightening and entertaining. As we experience with all Disney movies, the camaraderie amongst the cast members is apparent and it’s clear they had a good time working together. Get ready to buy your tickets now, and in case you haven’t seen it recently, here’s the official trailer. Enjoy!