Even a Mary Poppins purist would have a hard time not getting sucked into the cartoonishly delightful world of Mary Poppins Returns. Emily Blunt stars as the most magical nanny of all time, and though she looks practically perfect in every way, we have to wonder: why isn’t Julie Andrews in the new Mary Poppins movie? Because such bad news certainly needs a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine goes down. Plus, it does seem a little off that she won’t be paying the Banks children (well, “children”) a visit.
Well, it’s not that the OG Mary Poppins is turning her nose up at the remake. In fact, according to Emily and director Rob Marshall, there’s only love between the Poppinses.
So what are Julie Andrews’ thoughts on the Mary Poppins sequel?
Rob Marshall and Julie go way back — the pair have been friends ever since he choreographed her in Victor/Victoria over 25 years ago — so it shouldn’t have been a hard sell to get a cameo. He first brought up the subject of a Poppins remake when attending Julie’s Christmas party with producer John DeLuca. And rest assured that the songstress showed nothing but enthusiasm and support for the upcoming sequel.
“She had known it was in the works, then we said, ‘We’re doing it,’ and she said, ‘Oh, thank God,’” Rob told Entertainment Weekly. “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.”
“She said it’s time and she said, ‘I know it’ll be cared for,’” he continued. “And that’s the thing I think about every day when I’m at work. We all do.”
But then why isn’t Julie Andrews appearing in Mary Poppins Returns?
Well, the director broached a potential cameo for Julie, and though no specific role has come to light, one source alleged she would’ve played Angela Lansbury’s Balloon Lady. But according to Variety, Julie shut down the possibility of an appearance instantly. She felt she shouldn’t distract or take away from Emily’s performance as the iconic character.
“[Julie] immediately said no,” Rob said at the Mary Poppins Returns premiere. “She said, ‘This is Emily’s show and I want her to run with this. She should run with this. This is hers. I don’t want to be on top of that.'”
Emily reinforced that Julie graciously wanted her to take the spotlight, speaking to Variety about Julie’s “hands-off” approach to the film.
“There was discussion about, you know, that maybe she would come and do a bit in the movie and she was so generous actually,” Blunt added. “She said to Rob, ‘Do you know what this is? This is Emily’s version of her and I don’t want it to be that she’s playing Mary Poppins the whole way through but then I come in and there’s like oh, but there’s the real Mary Poppins, you know?'”
Concisely put, Julie believed it was Emily’s turn to seize that umbrella and take flight. Fair enough.
Likewise, Emily Blunt is paying respect to Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins’ portrayal.
THIS AIN’T YOUR GRANDMOTHER’S MARY POPPINS! Which is to say, Emily is doing her own take on the character instead of mimicking the practically perfect poise Julie delivered in the 1964 original. In fact, she didn’t rewatch the original in preparation of the role, not wanting to tamper with Julie’s legacy and convolute her own turn as the character.
“No one can out-Julie Julie Andrews, and I was worried my instincts would be diluted,” she told the Radio Times. “What if I don’t measure up? In some ways, because there’s always those inklings of self-doubt. At the same time I felt relieved. I hadn’t watched it before. I knew, just because of how brilliant Julie Andrews was, that I’d made the right choice."
"I could celebrate her version for being quite separate to what I did," she continued. "There was a bright line between my experience playing her and my experience watching Julie play her."
If you’re feeling nostalgic, though, Dick Van Dyke has a cameo in the new Mary Poppins.
Unlike Julie, there was no hesitation when it came to joining the new Mary Poppins cast. In an actor-on-actor conversation, Lin-Manuel Miranda asked what his reaction was to Mary Poppins part two. “Well, I got excited, of course,” the actor shared. “My first question was, ‘Can I be in it?” Awwww, bless!
This time around he won’t be playing old chimney-sweeping Bert — the Bert stand-in for this movie is actually Lin-Manuel’s character, the lamplighter Jack. Instead, Dick Van Dyke is echoing his other character, Mr. Dawes Sr, by playing the banker’s son, Mr. Dawes Jr, because you know, like 30-ish years have passed since Mary Poppins first visited the Banks family.
Wait, you didn’t know he played the crotchety old banker who discouraged the kids from feeding the birds? Well, he was! In fact, he really argued to get that role.
“I had to go to Walt [Disney] and ask him for the part. He wouldn’t give it to me,” Dick explained. “I said, ‘I’ll do it for nothing.’ Actually, I had to give him $4,000 — I paid him to do the part.”
And Dick looks nearly identical to Mr. Dawes Sr., growing in a familiar looking white beard and requiring far less prosthetics this time around. “They made me a gorgeous head of hair and a beard and everything,” he said. “I said, ‘Do you know you’re making up a 91-year-old man to look like a 91-year-old man?'”
Despite the lack of Julie Andrews, the new Mary Poppins feels vetted by its old stars.
So even though Julie Andrews will be missed in this fresh adventure, we feel calm knowing that Mary Poppins Returns is highly endorsed by Ol’ Bert and, well, Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins Returns hits theaters December 19, and we’re looking forward to seeing what Emily Blunt pulls out of her carpet bag. But if you still want to hear Julie’s mellifluous voice this season, you can catch her Mary Poppins’ big box office competition, Aquaman, where she’ll be voicing the sea creature Karathen.
Or just watch Sound of Music or Princess Diaries again, don’t be weird.