After his Broadway hit Hamilton became a cultural phenomenon, Lin-Manuel Miranda became quite the in-demand performer. He collaborated with Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams on a new cantina song. Most recently, he signed on to star in Mary Poppins 2 for Disney, while also coming aboard to compose new songs with Alan Menken and oversee the writing on the studio's live-action Little Mermaid remake. The actor/writer/composer/singer recently shared new details on both projects, confirming that Mary Poppins 2 is a "straight-up sequel." Here's what he had to say, explaining that his character grew up as an apprentice to Dick Van Dyke's character Bert from the original Mary Poppins.
"Michael and Jane Banks have grown up, and they find themselves in their own spot, and Mary Poppins comes back to take care of Michael's kids. I play a lamplighter named Jack who sort of grew up apprenticing to Bert. So I know if Mary Poppins shows up, it's gonna get awesome. I perform that function in the movie, of saying: 'Y'all don't know about Mary Poppins. When Mary's around, cool shit happens.'"
It hasn't been confirmed yet if the 90-year-old Dick Van Dyke is planning to reprise his role as Bert in Mary Poppins 2, but Lin-Manuel Miranda will be joined by Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins. Meryl Streep also recently signed on to play Cousin Topsy, although no further cast members have been confirmed quite yet for Mary Poppins 2. When asked for more details in his interview with Variety, Lin-Manuel Miranda revealed that he hasn't met Dick Van Dyke yet, but he is looking forward to the day they meet.
"I haven't met Dick Van Dyke. I'd love to meet him. I cried like everyone else did when he showed up on The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60 and started stepping in time. Just horizontal tears out of my face. I showed my son the film, and my son is not even 2 years old. When the music started my son went... (Miranda's face lit up and he let out gasp of wonder). Which I've never seen him do. He just sat rapt. For someone who's 20 months old, that doesn't happen. I'm really excited I get to be part of that legacy. That movie is everyone's childhood. Mine too. Although I never got through 'Tuppence' [the song 'Feed the Birds'], because that lady made me so sad that I would burst into tears. It took me a long time to actually see the end of the movie."
As for the Little Mermaid remake, Lin-Manuel Miranda isn't believed to have an acting role in that project. He will also serve as a producer alongside Marc Platt, although no cast members have been revealed and it isn't known when production will begin. Here's what Lin-Manuel Miranda had to say about the original Little Mermaid.
"My God, those Disney musicals. I feel really lucky that I was a kid when they went on that run of animated musicals, starting with The Little Mermaid. Not just animated movies, animated musicals. Howard Ashman [the late writer-lyricist of 'Mermaid,' 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Aladdin'] figured out, 'Oh my God, I can make even better musicals under this system than I can Off Broadway.' I have never been more transported in my life than when 'Under the Sea' first started when I was nine years old. I said, 'I cannot believe what is happening to me,' and that feeling of vertigo in a movie theater. Something I've been chasing ever since. To be part of that legacy, and then Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King, it was just this incredible run that happened when I was ages 9 to 14. It's very formative to me. I'm thrilled to be a part of that tradition."
Disney has set a Christmas Day 2018 release date for Mary Poppins Returns, but the studio doesn't have a date in place yet for The Little Mermaid movie. Universal is also prepping its own Little Mermaid project, with Chloe Moretz set to play Ariel, but very little is known about that project at this time. Lin-Manuel Miranda also co-wrote the songs for Disney's Moana, which hits theaters November 23.