When Rob Marshall first contacted Emily Mortimer about “Mary Poppins Returns” she recalls that it was a film “he felt was necessary in this moment that we’re in now. He wanted to bring back Mary Poppins as a sort of antidote to life.” For that reason, she was “totally swept up in the idea of needing to be part of it.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Mortimer and her co-star Ben Whishaw above.
This followup to the 1964 classic finds the title nanny (Emily Blunt) once again floating into the lives of the Banks family and teaching them some valuable life lessons with the help of a little magic and a few catchy songs. Whishaw takes on the role of the now-adult Michael Banks, who’s struggling to raise his three children after the death of his wife. His sister, Jane (Mortimer), tries to help, but they may find themselves out on the street if the bank forecloses on their family home.
Whishaw had never done a musical before, but he knew that Marshall would be “a brilliant guide through that.” The director “really taught me a big lesson about not worrying” and about how to perform the numbers even without being a trained vocalist: rather than trying to sing, per se, he learned to “inhabit the song.”
Though she has yet to compete at the Oscars, Mortimer won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress for Nicole Holofcener‘s “Lovely and Amazing” (2001). She also competed at the Goyas for Best Actress for “The Bookshop” (2017) and at the London Film Critics Circle Awards for “Young Adam” (British Supporting Actress in 2003) and “Dear Frankie” (British Actress in 2004).
In addition to his role in “Mary Poppins,” Whishaw has been nominated at the Golden Globes for his supporting performance in the limited series “A Very English Scandal.” Directed by Stephen Frears, it stars Hugh Grant as disgraced Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe, who tried to have his lover (Whishaw) murdered. Whishaw previously received BAFTA TV bids for “Criminal Justice,” “The Hollow Crown” and “London Spy,” winning as Shakespeare’s King Richard II in “Hollow Crown.” And “Criminal Justice” also won him an International Emmy.
The original “Mary Poppins” was loved by the Oscars, contending in 13 categories including Best Picture. It won five of those, including Best Actress for Julie Andrews. Will the sequel recapture that awards magic? “Mary Poppins Returns” hits theaters on December 19.
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