Blunt, Miranda and Marshall on making Mary Poppins Returns together
The perfect talent of Mary Poppins Returns chatted about the film at the Los Angeles press day before this holiday’s release.
Filled with fantastic Disney magic, the follow up film to the beloved classic stars Emily Blunt as a new Mary Poppins for this generation. If we can have multiple Batmans, Bonds and the like, we are all in for Blunt’s taking up of the mantle. In this latest chapter of the Poppins story, the nanny returns to save the Banks children–both the new little ones and now grown Jane Banks (Emily Mortimer) and Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw). With the help of Jack the Leerie (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Poppins takes the Banks family on a new adventure to trip a little light fantastic in the darkest of times for the family.
Full of with fun, whimsy, and a new take on the iconic characters, Mary Poppins Returns promises to be a joy for families this winter as it was a joy to make for the creative team behind the films.
Here’s what director Rob Marshall, actors Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Whishaw had to say about the making of the film, working together and what Mary Poppins means to them.
Rob Marshall on why he believes he was the right choice to make the film and working on his first original musical work:
“You know what I thought to myself when this came our way? If anybody is gonna do it I would like to do it because it was incredibly daunting at first of course. And I wanted to be able to in odd way protect the first film and treat this film with great care and love. And, you know, musicals are very difficult to do, an original musical, there are so many layers to it, but with this one, you know, creating an original musical from scratch was actually for me a dream and I’ve never done it before and to be able to create it with this beautiful company was exactly what I was hoping for. And I have to say the guiding message of this film about finding light in the darkness is honestly what drew me to it and kept guiding me throughout the whole process including until this very moment, you know, when people are actually now seeing the film because it feels so current to me. And I’m just speaking for myself, but I feel people need this film now. And I certainly knew that I wanted to live in that world and be part of that and sending that message out into the world now of looking for hope and light in a dark time.”
Emily Blunt on picking up the bag and placing the iconic hat on her head, following the great Julie Andrews.
“She had such a big imprint on my life and on everyone’s lives, you know. People hold this character so close to their hearts. And so, you know, how do I create my version of her? What will my version of her be because there’s no point? No one wants to see me do a sort of cheap impersonation of Julie Andrews because no one is Julie Andrews. And she should be preserved and treasured in her own way of what she did. I knew this was going to be something that I wanted to take a big swing with. I found the books to be a huge springboard and enormously helpful, you know. She leaped off the page at me just in how complicated she is, how unknowable she is in this wonderful way, that duality of the character, you know, that she is stern and she is incredibly rude, you know, and vain and, but like funny, you know, and yet there is this humanity and she has to herself have such a childlike wonder in her in order to want to infuse these children’s lives with it and there must under there be a generosity of spirit to want to fix and heal in the way that she does, you know. Also the fact that she’s probably a bit of an adrenaline junky, like she loves these adventures. It’s like her outlet, you know. So just finding those moments so she’s not just one thing because she is so enigmatic and it was a great. Such a delicious character to play, loved it.”
Lin Manuel-Miranda on joining the Disney family and the world of Mary Poppins Returns after his legendary run on Broadway as Hamilton. And how his fondest memory of the shoot.
“Honestly I can’t give them enough credit for seeing this role in me because when I’m playing Hamilton, I mean there is no childlike wonder in Alexander Hamilton. He has a very traumatic early life. He goes on that stage and he wants to devour the world and he wants to move so fast and he wants to do everything whereas Jack in this movie, as they pitched him to me, has this childlike sense of wonder. He’s in touch with that imagination you all see in your kids when they can sort of play in their own imagination for hours. Jack sort of never lost that and that was I feel so humbled that he saw that in me and that, you know, from that moment I was in and then, you know, it came along at the perfect time for my family too, you know. We had finished a year of performing Hamilton and then I chopped my hair off and left the country and jumped into Mary Poppins’ universe. It was like beautiful. There are a lot of highs on a movie like this and coming from the theater where the only thing that changes in the performance is the audience and your energy that day to go okay Thursday we’ll be shutting down Buckingham Palace and riding with 500 bicyclists. And Friday you’ll be, you know, dancing with the penguins. You know those kind of moments are really sort of unforgettable, but for me I brought my son to set every time we filmed a musical number and to watch his eyes like saucers while daddy danced with, you know, what seems like 500 dancers and bikers. I’ll never forget the look on his face as long as I live.”
Ben Whishaw on being a lifelong Poppins fan getting to be a part of the stories he loves as Michael Banks.
“Well I was obsessed with the film when I was a child. It was the first thing – the first film I ever saw and my dad taped it off the “tele” on a VHS tape and I watched it obsessively through my whole childhood and I used to dress up as Mary Poppins and parade up and down the street in our village. And so it has a huge like mythical – it’s a mythic part of my childhood. So I was – I was sort of moved every day because of course it’s moving and you don’t expect as an adult to sort of be revisiting something that is such a part of your childhood. I was moved every day to be involved in that world again, you know, that I still recall so well. I mean I can’t watch the first film without crying and it’s just a very tender kind of place in myself. And how did I play the character? I mean it was brilliantly written. That was the thing. I mean it was all there and that’s why I think people never – like you just have to do it.”
Jack and Mary, a more iconic duo than Mary and Bert? Or perhaps something more? Lin and Emily on the nature of their relationship when asked if they’re a thing. And Lin addresses the rapping in the film.
Lin-Manuel Miranda: “First of all I would urge you to re-watch the first film. Because everyone was like wow there’s rapping in Mary Poppins Returns but forgets that Burt has a 30 second rap about all the women he dated before Mary Poppins. You’ve all forgotten it, but Jolly Holiday is one big flirt between Mary and Burt.”
Emily Blunt: She doesn’t mind flirting with a laborer.
LMM: “During Trip a Little Light Fantastic, he’s having a good time.”
EB: “Oh, that’s like her dream to dance with 30 lamplighters. I enjoyed playing the sort of flirtation of it and I think really they are such kindred spirits even though he’s not necessary magical, he gets it and believes it and they’re sort of in cahoots with each other so I love playing that chemistry with Lin and I was so lucky to get to play it with him because he’s such a wonderful bounce back and forth. There’s such buoyancy to him and how he plays his character.”
LMM: “We look forward to all the fan fictions in either direction.”
Emily Blunt on performing the heart wrenching lullaby in the film, the Place Where Lost Things Go.
“I was so incredibly moved by it that I found it virtually impossible to get through it the first few times I sang it. It was so emotional for me because I did think of my own children and these children in the film and their sense of loss and that they’re trying to hold their father together and they’ve dealt with something so profound and so agonizing: to lose a parent and to be so young and miss her so much. But it was just – it just moved me so much and so on the day – it was one of my favorite days on set and we shot that songsong all day, in a couple of days because it is that she recognizes what they need in that moment and gives it to them in this very tender way and the sorrow is so true and she doesn’t shy away from the fact that they’ve lost something, but that there’s cracks of light, you know and there’s something to learn from andhe idea of loss being something that they can digest as children and not and to walk through, you know, that you are going to walk through this loss, but nothing is gone forever only out of place. It’s just such a hopeful way to look at loss really.”
Mary Poppins Returns December 19th!