When you’re rebooting a classic there is a lot of trepidation. There are the original people involved and whether or not they are going to approve, there are the fans and whether or not they are going to be okay with it, and a million other questions. When the idea of rebooting Mary Poppins came up director Rob Marshall knew how important it was that Julie Andrews approved. He talked about how he went to her and broached the subject to Entertainment Weekly. They already knew each other from Victor/Victoria but it was still important that the production got Andrews stamp of approval.
“She had known it was in the works, then we said, ‘We’re doing it,’ and she said, ‘Oh, thank God,’” the director recalls. “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.”
Marshall insists that Andrews is on board for the film not only in the reboot but also in the casting of Emily Blunt.
“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,” he says. “But Emily is the perfect person to carry the torch, and I know Julie feels the exact same way. She loves her.”
Andrews also realizes that while she will always be Mary Poppins on some level it isn’t her show anymore which is why she would not agree to make a cameo. Not because she didn’t agree or like the idea of a reboot but because it would take people out of the movie and take the focus away from Blunt.
“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.’”
It was important that the character was in good hands and Marshall’s involvement was apparently the thing that helped convince Andrews that Mary was in good hands.
“She said it’s time and she said, ‘I know it’ll be cared for,’” says Marshall. “And that’s the thing I think about every day when I’m at work. We all do.”
Mary Poppins Returns, directed by Rob Marshall, stars Emily Blunt, Lin Manuel Miranda, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Ben Whishaw, and Julie Walters. It will be released on December 25, 2018.