Mary Poppins Returns: Julie Andrews gives her verdict on Emily Blunt casting

'I feel a little more trepidation with this [character] because she’s so emblematic of people’s nostalgia,' Blunt said of the role. 

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The Independent Culture

There's no dodging around the fact that Emily Blunt's casting in sequel Mary Poppins Returns is going to divide opinion: on whether she's the right choice, or whether anyone should be revisiting a role so iconically portrayed by Julie Andrews. 

Admittedly, Mary Poppins' transferral into stage musical has seen many actresses slip into the shoes of Disney's magical nanny, but taking a new Poppins to screen is a beast in of itself. "I feel a little more trepidation with this [character] because she’s so emblematic of people’s nostalgia," Blunt told Entertainment Weekly about the role. "It’s such an important character in people’s childhood."

Thankfully, Andrews herself - who was practically perfect in the role over 50 years ago - seems to have lent her full support to Blunt's casting in a sequel to the 1964 film. Blunt herself told EW that director Rob Marshall had already spoken to Andrews; "Rob said he was in the Hamptons, and he saw [Andrews], and he said, ‘It’s top secret, but Emily Blunt’s playing Mary Poppins.' And she went, 'Oh, wonderful!'"

"I felt like I wanted to cry," Blunt continued. "It was lovely to get her stamp of approval. That took the edge off it, for sure."

Interestingly, the actress also revealed her version of Poppins wouldn't actually be a direct continuation of Andrews', and would instead draw stronger inspiration from P.L. Travers' vision of her in the original books. "We’re delving into the books a lot more," she explained, "which is a different version of the character, I’ll say that much. She’s a little meaner, yeah."

Blunt joins the likes of Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda, playing lamplighter Jack, and Ben Wishaw - set to play a grown-up version of Michael Banks

The new film's full synopsis reads: "In Depression-era London, a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, along with Michael's three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, and with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives."

Production on Mary Poppins Returns is due to begin in London early 2017; it'll reach cinemas on Christmas Day 2018.