Julie Andrews won an Oscar for playing the title role in “Mary Poppins” more than half a century ago and on Thursday’s edition of the “Today” show, she gave an glowing endorsement to Emily Blunt who is taking on this iconic role of a no-nonsense nanny. Dame Julie readily admitted to being “a huge fan” of Blunt, who proved to have singing chops in the movie version of Stephen Sondheim‘s tuner “Into the Woods.” And, Andrews declared, “I love her; she’s real, and fun, and very talented.”
Filming has just finished on “Mary Poppins Returns” and while Andrews declined the chance to appear in this long-awaited sequel, she said she gave her approval “wholeheartedly” to the idea. In this follow-up Poppins’ original charges, Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane (Emily Mortimer), are now grown up. Michael, his three children and their housekeeper, Ellen (Julie Walters), live in the house on Cherry Tree Lane.
“Mary Poppins” was the top-grossing film of 1964 and reaped a lucky 13 Oscar bids, winning five. Besides that Best Actress trophy for film newcomer Andrews, it took home film editing, score, song (“Chim Chim Cher-ee”) and visual effects. The big winner that night was the screen version of the 1956 Broadway musical “My Fair Lady” that had launched Andrews. After being passed over for the film, she wreaked her revenge when Audrey Hepburn, in the role of Eliza Doolittle, was snubbed by the academy.
Dick Van Dyke, who was both chimney sweep Bert and bank president Mr. Dawes Sr. in the original film, returns to play Dawes, Jr. in this version with Oscar winner Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”) in the new role of banker William Weatherall Wilkins.
Broadway sensation and recent Oscar nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton,” “Moana”) plays street lamplighter Jack while three-time Oscar champ Meryl Streep is Poppins’ crazy cousin Topsy and five-time Tony winner Angela Lansbury is the Balloon Lady. This tuner is to be released on Christmas Day, 2018.