The casting of Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins Returns was met with universal approval. That was hardly a surprise, as not only does the 34-year-old bear a striking resemblance to Julie Andrews but she possesses the same spirit and presence, too.
Ben Whishaw, who is playing Michael Banks in “Mary Poppins Returns,” has now opened up about his original reaction to Blunt’s casting, while also explaining how the actress has somehow managed the impossible by both “honoring the folk memory of Julie Andrews” and making the character “her own.”
“I just thought it was a brilliant piece of casting. I think she’s going to be incredible in the film. She’s a brilliant actress full-stop, but she’s also a brilliant comedian and a brilliant singer.”
“From what I have seen, and what I can gather, she is doing that very difficult thing of honoring the folk memory of Julie Andrews that is in everyone’s childhood, and also really making it her own role. That’s going back to the P.L. Travers books.”
“I think she has found something really original. I’m really excited to see it.”
Whishaw was always going to be particularly brutal when it came to judging Blunt in the role, too, as the original "Mary Poppins" was the first film that he ever saw. Whishaw admitted that he quickly became “completely obsessed” with the classic as a kid.
This obsession was one of the main reasons Whishaw signed up for the sequel, which will also star Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, and what promises to be an emotional cameo from Dick Van Dyke, too.
“’Mary Poppins’ was the first film that I ever saw. I loved it so much. I was completely obsessed as a little person.”
“So, I just signed up for ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ for that part of myself. I tried to remember that part of myself. You wanna make something that would be as delightful to that person as the original was. So you just keep hold of that spirit.”
“It was nerve-racking because it is a classic film. But I feel really lucky to have been collaborating with such great people and I am very intrigued to see how it will turn out.”
We’ll finally get to see how “Mary Poppins Returns” turns out when it is released on December 25, 2018.
Meanwhile, Ben Whishaw voices the titular character in "Paddington 2," which is released on January 12.