When director Rob Marshall was officially asked to direct the sequel to the classic Walt Disney’s “Mary Poppins,” he knew it was a time to only say ‘yes’.
“We’re living in a time of deep darkness,” he said to reporters at the global press conference for “Mary Poppins Returns” in Beverly Hills recently. “It was absolutely time for a movie like this to come to life and remind us of what it’s like to be human.”
Marshall, who considers his second Disney project to be his ‘most personal and original film’ to date, proceeded to then talk more about the team of talented humans to help make the sequel film. “All of the people on this team, including me, had one requirement – to have some passionate connection to the original (film).”
For leading lady Emily Blunt who plays the titular character, her connection was through the original P.L. Travers books that got her fully invested into playing the iconic nanny. “Reading through them, I couldn’t help but buy into this person who had an attractive duality to her. She can be harsh one moment, and lovingly magical the next,” Blunt said. “That’s a lot like me anyways.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda, who plays a singing-and-dancing lamplighter named Jack in the film (who also is this film’s ‘chimney sweep’) thought there was an attractiveness to playing a character who had looked at the world in whimsy and magic. “I’ve only played Alexander Hamilton, and he had no childlike wonder in him at all. So, this was a nice change because it’s more me than the other guy.”
For the other stars like Emily Mortimer who plays a grown-up Jane Banks and Ben Whishaw who plays a grown-up Michael Banks, they both fancied playing ‘native’ characters they watched as children growing up in London. “From VHS cassette to real-life. Can’t be more amazing than that I think,” said Whishaw, to which Mortimer strongly agreed.
Composer Marc Shaiman who wrote the new original music for the film with lyrics by Scott Wittman said that his strong connection to the film started when he listened to the music of the 1964 film for the first time. “The violins that play in the very beginning of the movie, the lyrical prose of the Sherman Brothers…I was a four-year-old who listened to all that and kept asking ‘I’m deeply emotional right now. Why?!”
While the entire team had its connections, however, Marshall and company wanted to make sure that their film would not be a copy of the beloved first. Marshall said, “It was a balancing act between what we wanted to bring from the first and what we wanted to add in the second. I relied on my gut the entire time.”
It appears to have paid off with early reviews of the film noting that it’s the near-perfect blend of both original and new to create a new movie that brings the classic magic and joy that comes with encountering the magical British nanny.
“It’s the same ‘ol Mary that we love,” Marshall concluded. “It’s so good that we all get to see her again.”
Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns” hits theaters on December 19, 2018. Check back soon for our spoiler-free review!