Disney invited me to attend the #MaryPoppinsReturnsEvent, this Emily Blunt interview is a result of the trip. The opinions expressed here are my own. Some interview questions and responses have been edited to improve readability.
Emily Blunt sat down with us to talk about her role as Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins Returns. I’m sharing highlights from our conversation below.
Emily’s Favorite Costume in Mary Poppins Returns
I have to say I really loved the red suit with the skirt that kind of flowed out when I danced with 30 Lamplighters. I was like YES! And I remember Rob Marshall really wanted like a Ginger Rogers type of look to that and it’s not actually accurate for the time period to have a skirt that opened up like that. So that’s where Sandy Powell, the great Sandy Powell created all those very tight pleats so that it looked very chic and sort of straight-lined. And then when I turned, the whole skirt kind of opened up and Sandy Powell is just so exciting to work with. I mean all the costumes are so extraordinary but I think the red suit was pretty epic, loved it.
Speaking of awesome costumes, check out these adorable Mary Poppins Returns Funko Pop! Vinyl Figures that feature some of the fun costumes from the movie.
- Mary Poppins Returns Mary with Kite Pop! Vinyl Figure
- Mary Poppins Returns Mary with Skirt Bag Pop! Vinyl Figure
- Mary Poppins Returns Mary Pink Dress Pop! Vinyl Figure
- Mary Poppins Returns Jack the Lamplighter Pop! Vinyl Figure
Emily’s favorite scenes in Mary Poppins Returns
God there were so many that I loved. I mean, I love the poignancy of the ballad that I sing to the kids cause it’s sort of her revealing her most tender side cause she’s such a weird eccentric lady. She’s stern and yet shows great humanity and shows great depth because she comes into their lives to heal and to bring order to chaos and reintroduce the idea of magic but she doesn’t let you know that.
It’s sort of exciting to play someone who’s in command of the environment and yet pretends kind of not to be.And expects nothing in return so I would say that scene with the kids was really moving and then I loved that big, the ‘cover is not the book’ number, with Lin, it was like wild, you know. That was really fun.
The moment she truly felt like Mary Poppins
I would say the arrival scene where I am dangling 60 feet from a crane and Rob Marshall played the amazing orchestral music from the speakers, like blared it from the speakers so that it was very transporting and really exciting but I was kind of terrified at that. I thought I was alright with heights and then I was up there and like I’m not. And I remember hanging up there and looking down to Lin Manual-Miranda was like that big (pinches her fingers together). And I was like Oh My God.
But I think that was the moment because I had the coat, the hat, the umbrella, the feet, the kite. That was when I, it was one of the only moments I allowed myself cause I kind of had to block out the fear of how iconic she was in taking this on for most of the shoot. But that was the moment where I allowed myself that moment of I’m gonna vomit, like it was really insane. I was hit between the eyeballs with it (being Mary Poppins).
How playing Mary Poppins impacted Emily as a Mother
I mean, I feel my whole household is full of imagination and childlike wonder cause my kids are so young. So I do feel like I’ve sort of rediscovered life through their eyes really. I mean Hazel is a bit disappointed that there aren’t dolphins in her bathtub so I feel like actually in a way, Mary Poppins has kind of shot me in the foot. Like I know I’m only going to be less than. So I think for everyone else like all of their friends are gonna be like ‘your Mum’s Mary Poppins, that’s so cool’, and my own kids would be like, ‘you should see it, it’s not’. They are gonna be like ‘she is so NOT Mary Poppins’, yeah.
What was Emily’s biggest challenge filming Mary Poppins Returns
I mean, the dancing was a bit daunting because I’d never done those sort of big show stopping Hollywood numbers and the great Rob Marshall and his incredible choreographers as well as the incredible director. So we were in safe hands. I feel like Lin Manuel and I were sort of on a par with dancing abilities so we were in it to get there, Thank God. If I had been dancing like Justin Timberlake, that would have been really embarrassing. But then on a deeper note, I think the initial idea of taking her on because she is so iconic and Julie Andrews is so iconic and the character has this searing imprint on people’s lives.
It’s often the first movie that anyone ever saw and so it was that, I needed to get over myself I think and sort of approach her as I would any other role. And allow everyone’s sort of gasping reaction when I said I was gonna take on Mary Poppins. Everyone was like [GASP] Oh My God. There’s just so much energy coming at you that you have to allow that to be white noise and just approach her as I would any other character. So I think it was the initial overcoming of that. And then I just completely fell in love with her. I was just so mad about her by the end. I just loved it, loved it.
How Emily’s version of Mary Poppins is different
Well I think she’s much closer to how she is in the book. That’s how I played her. nd in the book, she’s incredibly rude and vain and funny and enigmatic and weird. She’s sort of bizarre and layered and so for me, it was sort of how do I find those cracks of humanity in a super human and where are they? And I said to Rob Marshall, I said the sternness, I really want all the sternness and this sort of imperious quality to her, like to drop when she goes into these Fantasias. She should be like an adrenaline junkie and that sort of duality of the character.
You know, that when she goes into these adventures, you’ve got to see her childlike wonder and her thrill and enjoyment of it. And then when it’s over, she pretends none of it happened and she had nothing to do with it. So it’s like so cool playing someone with that duality to them.
What it was like working with Dick Van Dyke
Oh My God. It was so overwhelming I have to say because he’s so sprightly and cool. Just what a gorgeous human and he walked on set and he just said I feel the same spirit here that was there on the first movie, and of course, we all wanted to cry. And we’d sit around him and just want him to tell us stories about the original. He sang “Jolly Holiday” to me. I was just like that’s it, I could die now, that’s it. I could die and be happy. It’s just lights out, awesome moment.
And I think probably actually my other moment of Oh My God, I’m playing Mary Poppins was in the scene with him where he has that beautiful monologue that was so gorgeous to Michael Banks and we’re all crowded around him and the music starts, and he finishes the monologue and in the scene, he crosses his arms and he looks up at me like that. And I just remember looking at those iconic blue eyes and I was like Wow, that was so wild.
Be sure to stop back by to read my other interviews with the cast of Mary Poppins Returns.