MouseInfo recently had the opportunity to sit down with cast and creators of MARY POPPINS RETURNS to learn more the highly anticipated sequel to the beloved Disney classic. We heard from notables including Rob Marshall (Director), Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Jack), Ben Whishaw (Michael Banks), Emily Mortimer (Jane Banks), plus Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Music).
A common theme that came up during the press conference was that nobody else could have directed this film but Rob Marshall. After the credits rolled we sat like codfish — mouths agape — that a film of this caliber and quality could be made in today’s day and age. Specifically the substance and style felt so right and true to the established universe that it really felt like it had the same DNA.
MARY POPPINS RETURNS is a beautifully perfect sequel and what became clear as we heard from the people involved with the project was that truly nobody else but Rob Marshall could have brought it to such beautiful vivid life.
Below are five reasons why MARY POPPINS RETURNS is a masterful creation.
Rob Marshall is no stranger to good musicals
Producer (and panel moderator) Marc Platt, said that Rob Marshall “Single-handedly with his vision and his passion and his genius has brought back the movie musical to our culture.” John DeLuca echoed that Marshall was the perfect parent and this is the perfect time for this film. Since directing CHICAGO, DeLuca mused that he couldn’t see anyone else doing a huge musical movie that could be so successful other than Marshall. Both Marshall and Deluca agreed that this film was all about finding light in the darkness, and was definitely relevant for today’s society. The film is set in the depression era of London, so it could feel accessible and a story that needs to be told now.
He’s a huge fan of the source material
Commenting on the legacy of the original film, Marshall said “The first film means a lot to a lot of people, especially to someone around my age, because I saw it when I was four or five years old, and it opened my mind to so many things. So it has been really beautiful to be part of that message for all this time.” This passion is what drew people to the project including Emily Mortimer and lead star Emily Blunt who said of Marshall, “It was such an extraordinary moment, it was an instantaneous yes, and I knew I could do it with this man who is the most emboldening, meticulous, brilliant director in the world and I was safe with him.”
Tributes to the first!
When watching the film, you can’t help but compare it to the original. And, thankfully, there are a lot of nods and tributes to find yet they hardly seem heavy-handed or tongue in cheek. Mortimer spoke about having the original Jane in the film, actress Karen Dotrice, come to the set and do her cameo. “She’s such a cool lady,” Mortimer gushed, “we all walked the set with her and she walked on to Cherry Tree Lane for the first time since making the original film and she just melted.”
Dick Van Dyke also cameos in the film — once again portraying the head of the bank — and Marshall recalled being on the set, simply beside himself with emotion. He recalled, “I don’t think any of us could breathe that day because we couldn’t believe that we were touching that.” Van Dyke grabbed Marshall’s hand and said he felt the same spirit on this set that he felt on the original film. Marshall was so choked up he couldn’t call cut after Van Dyke’s scene. They joked that Emily Blunt had to call cut after that scene because no one else could muster the vocal chords. Marshall said that was the dream right there, it was so touching.
The right group of people
Screenwriter David Magee said that working out this story with Marshall, DeLuca, Shaiman and Wittman was the most magical creative time of his life. When Marshall asked actors like Meryl Streep or Colin Firth to be part of the film, they jumped at the chance because they knew it would be magical and different and told in a way that would respect the first.
A truly animated experience
Marshall commented that understands and respects with reverence P.L. Travers contributions to project and also the additions such as animation that helped create the indelible classic. He noted that they spent a year and a half before filming just immersing themselves in the books. He kept the feel of Peter Ellenshaw‘s beautiful paintings. He said, about the animation sequences in the film, that he really thought it would almost feel new again because it hasn’t been done for so long.
A lot of animators came out of retirement to work on the project. Also very interesting, we had a lot of animators in their 20’s who were much more interested in doing the old school animation as opposed to the new computer-generated work, and it was fascinating to see them at work.
MARY POPPINS RETURNS flies into theatres December 19, 2018.