The original 1964 Mary Poppins is perhaps Disney's most iconic and beloved live-action classic. So casting someone new to play the magical nanny after all these years was certainly a daunting task for the studio. They eventually landed on Emily Blunt. She will assume the role made famous by Julie Andrews, who is a legend herself. So, how does Andrews feel about the choice that was made?
Emily Blunt hasn't gotten a chance to speak with Julie Andrews in person yet. But director Rob Marshall, who is taking on Mary Poppins Returns after directing the fantasy musical Into the Woods and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides for Disney, had a chance encounter with Julie. Blunt recalls how this went down to Entertainment Weekly.
"Rob said he was in the Hamptons, and he saw [Andrews], and he said, 'It's top secret, but Emily Blunt's playing Mary Poppins,'And she went, 'Oh, wonderful!'I felt like I wanted to cry. It was lovely to get her stamp of approval. That took the edge off it, for sure."
Good news for Blunt, Julie Andrews is completely on board. There have been rumors that Julie Andrews and her original Mary Poppins co-star Dick Van Dyke will appear in the sequel, but that hasn't been confirmed. Even with Andrews being on board, there was some trepidation that came with taking on the role for Blunt. She says this about accepting the challenge.
"I enjoy the challenge to be versatile... [but] I want to find the silliness again. I feel a little more trepidation with this [character] because she's so emblematic of people's nostalgia,. It's such an important character in people's childhood."
Don't expect Emily Blunt to just be mimicking Julie Andrews, though. This isn't going to be the same Mary Poppins, even though it is being sold as a sequel. This version is going to be closer to what P.L. Travers' envisioned in her original book series. Says Blunt.
"We're delving into the books a lot more, which is a different version of the character, I'll say that much. She's a little meaner, yeah."
Mary Poppins 2 begins shooting later this year. The movie already has a Christmas 2018 release date. Lin-Manuel Miranda is set to play Emily Blunt's co-star. Meryl Streep has signed on to play Poppins' cousin Topsy Turvey from the books. And there will be new music created for this magical musical adventure.