Mary Poppins Returns sees Emily Blunt stepping into the elegant shoes of Disney’s magical nanny, and she’s joined by several A-list friends including Meryl Streep as Mary’s eccentric cousin Topsy, Colin Firth as William Weatherall Wilkins (the current president of the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank), Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer as the now-grown-up Michael and Jane Banks, Lin-Manuel Miranda as loveable lamplighter Jack and Julie Walters as housekeeper Ellen.
2 - Story
It’s a sequel not a remake. The story is based on the eight-strong Mary Poppins book series by P. L. Travers and is set 25 years after the events of the original film, in Depression-era London. Jane and Michael Banks are now grown up, although Michael is still living in the same house on Cherry Tree Lane, with three children of his own.
3 - Music
The sequel features nine all-new songs by composer-songwriter Marc Shaiman and his co-lyricist Scott Wittman. A huge fan of the original film as a child, Shaiman admits to begging director Rob Marshall for the job. “I learned everything about songwriting, arranging, orchestrating and writing for film from the Mary Poppins soundtrack,” he reveals. “For the first 18 years of my life, that was my school.”
4 - Singing
According to Emily Blunt, director Rob Marshall insisted the cast perform each musical number over and over again “until it’s in your body”.
5 - Animation
In a love letter to the original film, the sequel features gorgeous hand-drawn animation. Indeed, several of Disney’s animators came out of retirement to work on the movie, so excited were they by this rare opportunity.
6 - Chimney
In news that will have ‘earts beatin’ like a big brass band, Dick Van Dyke (who played chimney sweep Burt in the original, as well as bank executive Mr. Dawes Senior) appears in this film as Mr. Dawes Jr. Expect some great dancing...
7 - Oscars
The 1964 original was nominated for an incredible 13 Oscars, winning five including Best Actress, Best Music and Best Original Song (for ‘Chim Chim Cher-ree’). If early feedback is to be believed, Mary Poppins Returns could also score big with the Academy. Critics, even the most cynical of them, want a movie like this right now.
8 - Director
Mary Poppins was the first movie Mary Poppins Returns director Rob Marshall (Chicago) watched as a child. “Mary Poppins was what opened my mind up to movies and magic and music,” he says.
9 - Julie Andrews
Julie Andrews, who won an Oscar for her role as Mary Poppins in the 1964 original, turned down the offer of a cameo appearance (apparently...), saying that she wanted it to be “Emily’s show”. Aw! But is it going to be true...?
10 - Emily Blunt
When it came to casting the role of Mary Poppins, director Rob Marshall had only one actress in mind. “It was pretty clear that no one else could play this role as brilliantly as Emily Blunt".
Played by: Emily Blunt
With the passage of time ruling out original star Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins Returns sees Emily Blunt stepping into the shapely shoes of the rosy-cheeked nanny – and she really is the perfect fit.
English born and bred, the 35-year-old actress not only has significant acting chops, she can also sing like an angel, as demonstrated in 2014’s Into The Woods. Descending from the London sky with just the right mix of primness and heart, could Blunt follow Andrews and win a Best Actress Oscar for the role? She just might, you know – this is a practically perfect performance.
Played by: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Are there no end to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s talents? The 38-year-old New Yorker is an accomplished composer, lyricist, playwright, rapper and actor, best known – until now – for creating and starring in the smash-hit broadway musical Hamilton.
So who is Jack? Well, he’s a former apprentice to the original film’s chimneysweep Bert and has the same loveable cheeky-chappiness about him. Just like Bert, he serves as Mary’s confidante – and dance partner – in the film, helping her bring happiness back to the inhabitants of Number 17, Cherry Tree Lane.
Played by: Meryl Streep
A sequel rather than a remake, Mary Poppins Returns is inspired by P. L. Travers’ eight-strong series of Poppins novels, the second of which – Mary Poppins Comes Back, published in 1935 – introduced Mary’s eccentric cousin Topsy.
Played in this film by the wonderful Meryl Streep, recipient of an astonishing 21 Oscar nominations, the film sees Mary taking the Banks children to visit Topsy in her upside-down, flip-flopped home, where – according to Kristopher Tapley in Variety – Streep performs a scene and song so show-stopping, it could see her earning yet another nod from the film Academy.
WILLIAM WEATHERALL WILKINS
Played by: Colin Firth
In the original 1964 film, Jane and Michael’s father George Banks devotes every waking hour to his job at the Dawes Tomes Mousely Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, before ultimately realising that it’s family not money that makes the world go round. The Fidelity Fiduciary Bank has a prominent role again in this sequel, with Colin Firth playing the bank’s president, William Weatherall Wilkins.
The character was introduced in the P. L. Travers short story, The Marble Boy, and is the closest thing we get to a villain in the film, refusing to show the hard-up Michael Banks (who also works at the bank) any pity, despite his financial woes.
Played by: Julie Walters
The Banks’ “happy as a cricket” housekeeper from the first film is still here in the second, although this time played by Dame Julie Walters.
Having watched over Jane and Michael since they were small, Ellen is dismayed at how life has unfolded for Michael, especially, and is thrilled when Mary Poppins returns to bring optimism back to a man who has forgotten what it feels like to be hopeful.
JANE AND MICHAEL BANKS
In this sequel, Jane and Michael Banks – the impossibly cute kids from the original – are now adults, with Michael (Ben Wishaw) having three children of his own.
Michael has lost his wife, and may be about to lose his house, too, and is consequently a shell of a man. His sister Jane (Emily Mortimre), played by Emily Mortimer, tries her best to help him, but is finding life tough herself.
Sing for us, Mary!
The latest special look for Mary Poppins Returns is now here and you can admire a bit of the interaction between actors and animation!
Wonderful to see you
The incounter we all have been waiting for...Grown-ups Michael and Jane Banks see Mary Poppins returing to their lives.