Dick van Dyke sings and dances again in “Mary Poppins Returns” and Angela Lansbury puts in an appearance as the balloon lady, but the movie icon who ruled the original is missing. Julie Andrews declined a cameo role in the anxiously-awaited sequel to the beloved children’s classic. Was she jealous that Emily Blunt is taking over her role? No, her rejection stemmed from the exact opposite motivation. Far from exhibiting small pettiness, Andrews’ reason for turning down an offered cameo is just what you would expect from the classy star.
Director Rob Marshall revealed to Entertainment Weekly Andrews reaction to the proposal. “Julie was incredibly gracious, and we talked about it in a very general way but she made it clear right up front.
“She said, ‘This is Emily’s show, and I really want it to be Emily’s show. I don’t want it to be, ‘Oh, here comes that Mary Poppins.’ I don’t want that. I really want her to take this and run with it, because she will be brilliant,'” Marshall quoted Andrews as saying.
“She had known it was in the works, then we said, ‘We’re doing it,’ and she said, ‘Oh, thank God,'” Marshall said. “Then we said, ‘And we’re thinking of Emily Blunt,’ and she just threw her hands up in the air and said yes. I think a lot of people feel that way about Emily’s work.”
He added: “Julie will always be, for me and for everybody, the most astonishing performance as Mary Poppins, winning the Oscar and bursting onto the scene so brilliantly. But Emily is the perfect person to carry the torch, and I know Julie feels the exact same way. She loves her.”
So Andrews decided to stay away so Blunt could make the role her own.
“She immediately said no . . . She said, ‘This is Emily’s show and I want her to run with this. She should run with this. This is hers. I don’t want to be on top of that,'” Marshall explained.
Andrews told Marshall, ‘Do you know what this is? This is Emily’s version of her and I don’t want it to be that she’s playing Mary Poppins the whole way through but then I come in and there’s like oh, but there’s the real Mary Poppins, you know?'”
The new movie focuses on the Banks children, now grownup, and on Michael Banks’s three young children during the era of the Great Depression. The Banks’ former nanny returns to the family after a tragedy strikes. Her plan is to bring joy back into their lives with the help of lamplighter Jack, who is played by Lin-Manuel Miranda in an echo of the first movie’s Bert the Chimney Sweep. The van Dyke cameo doesn’t reprise Bert; movie icon is cast as the son of the original film’s villain Mr. Dawes, Sr.