It’s been 54 years since PL Travers’s iconic character Mary Poppins first graced our screens via the classic Disney movie starring none other than musical songstress Julie Andrews.
Now Britain’s most adventurous magical nanny is back in a fresh incarnation in the form of Emily Blunt, alongside a stellar cast of household names – not least Meryl Streep as Mary’s cousin Topsy, Colin Firth as banker William “Weatherall” Wilkins, Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda as a street lamplighter, Emily Mortimer as now grown-up Jane Banks, Ben Whishaw as her brother Michael, plus Julie Walters as their housekeeper. The inimitable Dick Van Dyke, who famously portrayed Bert and Mr Dawes Sr in the original, reappears as Mr Dawes Jr.
A sequel as opposed to a remake, the story takes place in 1930s London, two decades after the story of the first film but during the same the era in which the books were set, and follows Poppins’s return to a now adult Jane and Michael Banks following a tragedy. While distinct from the first feature – Blunt has said she didn’t rewatch it in preparation in order to better create her own interpretation of the character – and bringing the story up-to-date for a 2018 audience, the movie still remains a far cry from the darker tone of the stories as imagined by Travers. Nonetheless, Mary Poppins Returns is a beautiful and upliftingly innocent film for our politically-tumultuous times that has garnered Golden Globe nominations galore.
We attended the premiere at London’s Royal Albert Hall for a magical evening on an unconventionally blue carpet lined with cherry blossom trees and a pop-up house, complete with chirpy 1930s-style dancers.
We caught a moment with the film’s star, a shivering Emily Blunt in a stunning blue silk dress, as she described how nice it was to present the film, which she considers love letter to London, in the city itself.
Ben Whishaw told us why he thinks Mary Poppins is such a loved character and why people should come and watch the film.
We also had the chance to speak with musical star Lin-Manuel Miranda about how he prepared for his role and the joy he experienced on set.
Colin Firth spoke about the joy of creating a film to “delight kids” as well as how star-struck he was upon meeting Dick Van Dyke.
Meryl Streep explained why she would love to work with Rob Marshall again and lauded the visual artistry of the film, while Platt pressed the importance of putting out a joyful message in the world and making a movie for the child in all of us.
Emily Mortimer spoke passionately about her character, who campaigns for the poor, and explained why the film itself is like a “spoonful of sugar”, a kind of medicine to the world’s ills.
Chris O’ Dowd discussed why he took on a role in the film (the voice of Shamus the coachman) and the way that the movie speaks to a fundamental longing in all of us to be mothered.
Director Rob Marshall and producer John DeLuca spoke about how London plays a big part in the picture and told the story of how and why the feature came into being.
Young Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh and Joel Dawson (who play the children of Michael Banks) told us about their favourite moments on set and why they also love the original film.
Actor Jim Norton spoke to us about the magical nature of the book and the challenge of continuing on from a classic story.
We also spoke with Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Tarik Frimpong and Jeremy Swift who shared their filming experience with us.
By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 14th December 2018.
Videos: Filippo L’Astorina
Mary Poppins Returns is released nationwide on 21st December 2018.