'Mary Poppins Returns' Director Rob Marshall Breaks Down the New Cast [Set Visit]

I visited the London set of Mary Poppins Returns back in 2017 and came away thoroughly charmed. Director Rob Marshall‘s upcoming sequel to the Disney classic looks to have its heart in the right place every step of the way, complete with two thoroughly charming leads, elaborate musical numbers, and even an extended animation sequence where the cast gets to dance with cartoon animals. It all seems so lovely.

With the film now just over a month away, a new batch of images has arrived alongside a new featurette diving into how the film came together. And because we have even more from our original set visit that didn’t make the initial cut, we’ve packaged it all together with some quotes from Rob Marshall about the new cast, that big animated sequence, and more.

This is Not a Remake

One thing that was emphasized time and time again during our set visit was that Mary Poppins Returns is not a remake of the 1964 classic. No, this is a proper sequel, set several decades later and following the same characters and a collection of newcomers. It’s very much intended to continue the story of the first movie, not replace it.

Marshall explained that Poppins author PL Travers offered them a wealth of material to work with in her other books. Plus, it had to be a sequel because he would never even consider a straight-up remake of a movie as iconic as Mary Poppins:

There Had to be an Animated Sequence

Like many fans of the original movie, Marshall knew the sequel needed a scene where Mary Poppins and the other characters enter an animated world. So he found a sequence from another Travers book that would allow them to do just that:

However, it was this sequence (as well as other elaborate set pieces) that necessitated such a lengthy post-production process:

Only Emily Blunt Could Play Mary Poppins

If you take one look at Emily Blunt dressed as that magical nanny and think, “Yeah, I can’t imagine any other modern actress playing this role,” you’re certainly not alone. Marshall agrees with you:

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Like seemingly everyone who has ever worked with the award-winning Hamilton creator, Marshall has nothing but nice things to say about Lin-Manuel Miranda:

Miranda’s character in Mary Poppins Returns is essentially the new Burt, stepping in for Dick Van Dyke’s chimney sweep to act as companion to Mary and the Banks kids. And the role was built around Miranda’s unique presence:

Meryl Streep

When you gender-swap a character from a PL Travers book, why not cast the legendary Meryl Streep? Marshall explained how Fred Turvy became Topsy Turvy:

Mary Poppins Returns hits theaters on December 19, 2018.

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