While on the Mary Poppins Returns Press Event, I had the opportunity to interview Emily Blunt for the second time. Last time we chatted she was sitting next to James Cordon for the Into the Woods press event. Since then she’s been busy having babies and making more movies, however, she looked as beautiful as ever and was so gracious in answering our questions.
Mary Poppins Returns
In Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” an all new original musical and sequel, Mary Poppins is back to help the next generation of the Banks family find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss. Emily Blunt (“A Quiet Place,” “The Girl on the Train”) stars as the practically-perfect nanny with unique magical skills who can turn any ordinary task into an unforgettable, fantastic adventure and Lin- Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton,” “Moana”) plays her friend Jack, an optimistic street lamplighter who helps bring light—and life—to the streets of London.
Emily Blunt talks Mary Poppins Returns
As she enters the room, we give her well-earned applause. She is so fantastic in the film, she really does Mary Poppins justice.
Hi guys. Oh, you just woke me up. There’s like no cynicism in here, it’s so nice.
Let’s talk about the costumes! Did you have a favorite?
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 a Ginger Rogers type of look. It’s not actually accurate for the time period to have a skirt that opened up like that. So that’s where the great Sandy Powell created all those very tight pleats. It looked very chic and sort of straight-lined. And then when I turned, the whole skirt kind of opened up and it’s just so exciting to work with Sandy Powell.
I mean all the costumes are so extraordinary but I think the red suit was pretty epic, loved it.
The film is so good. What scene resonated with you?
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. And she’s stern and shows great humanity and shows great depth. 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 so it’s sort of exciting to play someone who’s in command of the environment and yet pretends kind of not to be.
And she expects nothing in return so I would say that the 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.
What was the moment where you were like either with the table read or when you read the script initially or when you’re fully dressed when you’re like holy smokes?
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. 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.
And the kite. That 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. It was I was hit between the eyeballs with it. And then I remember I landed when we did the scene, and one of the crew guys, this is when you know it’s like a cool scene, he’s like the focus puller.
And he came up to me and he goes, I’ve got to say I got really emotional watching that, so sweet, cause it’s like she’s back. And we’ve waited 54 years and people have told me that, people who, some of the most cynical people I know were like I cried when she came and I didn’t realize how much I wanted her to come back until I saw her, saw your feet coming out of the clouds. It was so cool.
Describe the impact of Mary Poppins for you being a Mother.
I mean, I feel my whole household is full of imagination and childlike wonder cause my kids are so young and 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. They are gonna be like she is so not Mary Poppins, yeah.
There’s so much dancing! Was that challenging?
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 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. I would say that. 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. So I’ll 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.
This is YOUR version of Mary Poppins, how do you feel about that?
Well, I think she’s much closer to how she is in the book. That’s how I played her. And in the book, she’s incredibly rude and vain and funny and enigmatic and weird. She’s sort of bizarre and layered. So for me, it was sort of how do I find those cracks of humanity in a superhuman? I told Rob Marshall, I want all the sternness and imperious quality to her to drop when she goes into these fantasies. She should be like an adrenaline junkie and that sort of duality of the character.
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’s it 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 a gorgeous human. He walked on set and he just said I feel the same spirit here that was there on the first movie. Of course, we all wanted to cry. And we’d sit around him and just want him to tell us stories about the original and 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. 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.
As we were walking out, I mentioned how fun the group interview was the night before. I mentioned how funny James Cordon was for he hosted. Emily said that he was the funniest man she knew, “but don’t tell John (Krasinski) I said that!”
Check out these Pop! Vinyl Figures! from Entertainment Earth!
Mary Poppins Returns in theatres December 19th!
I was invited by Disney to attend the #MaryPoppinsReturnsEvent. All opinions are my own.