Julie Andrews is not appearing in ‘Mary Poppins Returns,’ Disney’s upcoming sequel to the 1964 classic – and director Rob Marshall has explained why.
The long-delayed follow-up casts Emily Blunt as the magical nanny made famous by Andrews, who comes back into the lives of Jane and Michael Banks (played here by Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw) in their adulthood.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Marshall (whose directorial credits include ‘Chicago’ and ‘Into the Woods’) explains that the 81-year old screen legend Andrews was always aware of Disney’s plans for a ‘Mary Poppins’ sequel, and supports the project “one thousand percent.”
“She had known it was in the works, then we said, ‘We’re doing it,’ and she said, ‘Oh, thank God.’ Then we said, ‘And we’re thinking of Emily Blunt,’ and she just threw her hands up in the air and said yes. I think a lot of people feel that way about Emily’s work.”
And it seems it is out of respect for Blunt that Andrews opted not to take a role in ‘Mary Poppins Returns.’
“Julie was incredibly gracious, and we talked about it in a very general way but she made it clear right up front. She said, ‘This is Emily’s show, and I really want it to be Emily’s show.
“‘I don’t want it to be, “Oh, here comes that Mary Poppins.” I don’t want that. I really want her to take this and run with it, because she will be brilliant.’”
Andrews was awarded the Best Actress Academy Award in 1965 for her performance in the original ‘Mary Poppins,’ and Marshall acknowledges she will always be the person most associated with the role.
“Julie will always be, for me and for everybody, the most astonishing performance as Mary Poppins, winning the Oscar and bursting onto the scene so brilliantly. But Emily is the perfect person to carry the torch, and I know Julie feels the exact same way. She loves her.”
Joining Blunt, Mortimer and Whishaw are such big-name stars as Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury, Julie Walters, David Warner, and original ‘Mary Poppins’ actor Dick Van Dyke – although he will not be reprising the role of Bert.
‘Mary Poppins Returns’ opens in UK cinemas on 21 December 2018.