Mary Poppins Returns: Meryl Streep confirmed as Mary's cousin Topsy as first details emerge

Tom Butler
Senior Editor
Mary Poppins (Credit: Disney/Image.net)

Filming on the long-awaited ‘Mary Poppins’ sequel has begun!

The Walt Disney Studios confirmed principal photography on ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is now underway at London’s Shepperton Studios in a press release loaded with piles of new supercalifragilisticexpialidocious information.

Most excitingly perhaps is the news that Meryl Streep is confirmed to be playing Topsy, Mary’s “eccentric cousin”, while Dick Van Dyke’s role has been revealed to be Mr. Dawes Jr., “the chairman of Fidelity Fiduciary Bank”, who we presume is the son of the secondary character he played in the 1964 original. Colin Firth will play William Weatherall Wilkins, the bank’s manager.

They’re also recreating the Banks family home on Cherry Tree Lane for the film.

Dick Van Dyke as Mr Dawes Sr. in ‘Mary Poppins’ (Credit: Disney)

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins, taking over the iconic role from Julie Andrews, while Lin-Manuel Miranda (‘Hamilton’, ‘Moana’) will play “optimistic” lamplighter Jack in the sequel which is slated for release December, 2018.

The film is set in 1930s London and will see Mary returning to help the grown up Banks children Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael (Ben Whishaw), following a family tragedy. Pixie Davies (‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’), Nathanael Saleh (‘Game of Thrones’) and newcomer Joel Dawson will play Michael Banks’ three children.

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Here’s the synopsis: ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is set in 1930s depression-era London (the time period of the original novels) and is drawn from the wealth of material in PL Travers’ additional seven books. In the story, Michael (Whishaw) and Jane (Mortimer) are now grown up, with Michael, his three children and their housekeeper, Ellen (Walters), living on Cherry Tree Lane. After Michael suffers a personal loss, the enigmatic nanny Mary Poppins (Blunt) re-enters the lives of the Banks family, and, along with the optimistic street lamplighter Jack (Miranda), uses her unique magical skills to help the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives. Mary Poppins also introduces the children to a new assortment of colorful and whimsical characters, including her eccentric cousin, Topsy (Streep).

The original Banks family in ‘Mary Poppins’ (Credit: Disney)

Here’s the official Disney press release in full:

PRODUCTION BEGINS ON “MARY POPPINS RETURNS,” THE SEQUEL TO THE STUDIO’S 1964 FILM STARRING EMILY BLUNT AND LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA AND DIRECTED BY ROB MARSHALL

Production on “Mary Poppins Returns,” the all new sequel to Disney’s 1964 film “Mary Poppins,” has commenced at Shepperton Studios. The film, which stars Golden Globe® winner Emily Blunt (“The Girl on the Train,” “Into the Woods”) and Emmy®, GRAMMY® and Tony Award® winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton,” “Moana”) and is directed and produced by Oscar® nominee, Emmy® and DGA Award winner Rob Marshall (“Into the Woods,” “Chicago”), is scheduled for release in December 2018.

The film also stars: Ben Whishaw (“Spectre”), Emily Mortimer (“Hugo”) and Julie Walters (“Harry Potter” films) with Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”) and Meryl Streep (“Florence Foster Jenkins”). In addition, Dick Van Dyke plays Mr. Dawes Jr., the chairman of Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, which is now run by William Weatherall Wilkins (Firth).

“Mary Poppins Returns” introduces three new Banks children, played by Pixie Davies (“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”), Nathanael Saleh (“Game of Thrones”) and newcomer Joel Dawson.

Pixie Davies in ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children’ and Nathanael Saleh in ‘Game of Thrones’ (Credit: 20th Century Fox/HBO)

The film is produced by Marshall, Emmy® winner and Golden Globe® nominee John DeLuca (“Chicago”) and Oscar® and Tony® nominee and Emmy and Golden Globe winner Marc Platt (“La La Land”). The screenplay is by Oscar nominee David Magee (“Life of Pi”) based on The Mary Poppins Stories by PL Travers with Oscar nominee and Tony winner Marc Shaiman (“Hairspray”) and Emmy nominee and Tony winner Scott Wittman (“Hairspray”) writing all new songs with Shaiman composing an original score.

Amongst Marshall’s award-winning creative team are Oscar®-winning director of photography Dion Beebe, ASC ACS (“Memoirs of a Geisha”); two-time Oscar-winning production designer John Myhre (“Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Chicago”); three-time Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell (“The Young Victoria,” “The Aviator,” “Shakespeare in Love”); Oscar-winning hair and make-up designer Peter Swords King (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”); Oscar-winning set decorator Gordon Sim (“Chicago”); Oscar-winning production sound mixer Simon Hayes (“Les Misérables”); and Emmy® nominated editor Wyatt Smith (“Doctor Strange,” “Into the Woods”). The film is choreographed by Marshall and DeLuca with Joey Pizzi (“Chicago”) serving as co-choreographer.

“Mary Poppins Returns” is set in 1930s depression-era London (the time period of the original novels) and is drawn from the wealth of material in PL Travers’ additional seven books. In the story, Michael (Whishaw) and Jane (Mortimer) are now grown up, with Michael, his three children and their housekeeper, Ellen (Walters), living on Cherry Tree Lane. After Michael suffers a personal loss, the enigmatic nanny Mary Poppins (Blunt) re-enters the lives of the Banks family, and, along with the optimistic street lamplighter Jack (Miranda), uses her unique magical skills to help the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives. Mary Poppins also introduces the children to a new assortment of colorful and whimsical characters, including her eccentric cousin, Topsy (Streep).

PL Travers first introduced the world to the no-nonsense nanny in her 1934 book “Mary Poppins,” which Disney adapted for the screen and released in August, 1964. The film, which was directed by Robert Stevenson and starred Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, was the top-grossing film of that year and nominated for 13 Academy Awards®, winning five. However, the subsequent adventures of Mary Poppins remained only on the pages of PL Travers’ seven additional books, which she published between 1935 and 1988.

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