Dion Beebe Interview: ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ cinematographer
“Mary Poppins Returns” cinematographer Dion Beebe and director Rob Marshall were excited to “embark on a movie that is completely devoid of cynicism. You don’t get that opportunity very often,” Beebe says. A sequel to the 1964 Disney classic, the film finds the practically perfect nanny (Emily Blunt) returning to once again help the Banks family using a little magic, music, and mirth. Watch our exclusive video interview with Beebe above.
“I think in order to survive, we become cynical,” Beebe continues. “So to have this character who is feisty and opinionated, but is also joyful and does everything with good intention” felt like a spoonful of sugar for troubled times.
Beebe, who won an Oscar for Marshall’s “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005), needed to figure out how to “reconcile that iconic original with essentially a modern-day version.” The first film “is very stylized” with its bright lighting and fantastical sets. “They were not trying to create reality,” he explains, even in the real-world sequences.
But for this new version, they did want “a reality” in the photography that “gave us a different launching point into our heavily fantasy sequences.” They also departed from the original in how they transitioned between the real and fanciful worlds. “We transitioned often directly into fantasy,” Beebe says, and “often we ramped up slowly into the big numbers.”
On top of all that, “we knew we needed to bring new technology to the story,” particularly CGI. But Marshall also “wanted to keep one foot in the original, and I think there’s a couple moments certainly where we tip our hat to that, most notably the big animation sequence.”
In addition to his Oscar win for “Memoirs,” Beebe earned a nomination for Marshall’s Best Picture-winning “Chicago” (2002). He also took home BAFTAs for “Collateral” (2004) and “Memoirs,” and was nominated for “Chicago.” At the American Society of Cinematographers Awards, he picked up bids for “Collateral” and “Nine” (2009) and won for “Memoirs.”