‘Mary Pop­pins Re­turns’ as Emily Blunt

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - ENTERTAINMENT - RUBEN V. NEPALES


Emily Blunt brings her own charm and grace to the mag­i­cal nanny in “Mary Pop­pins Re­turns.” Bravely tak­ing on the role fa­mously orig­i­nated by Julie An­drews in the cher­ished 1964 orig­i­nal, Emily read P. L. Travers’ books on the char­ac­ter noted for her hat and par­rot um­brella. And she made it a point not to watch again “Mary Pop­pins,” which she saw as a child.

As a re­sult, Emily puts her own stamp on the vain but car­ing nanny in di­rec­tor Rob Mar­shall’s “Mary Pop­pins Re­turns,” which also stars Lin-Manuel Mi­randa, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mor­timer, Colin Firth, Julie Wal­ters, and has won­der­ful ap­pear­ances by Dick van Dyke (Bert/Mr. Dawes Sr. in the orig­i­nal) and An­gela Lans­bury.

Julie An­drews does not make a sur­prise ap­pear­ance but Meryl Streep, who worked with Emily Blunt in “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Into the Woods,” shows up in one num­ber as Mary Pop­pins’ aunt.

Emily, who wore a color block dress by Rok­sanda in this re­cent in­ter­view at the Mon­tage Bev­erly Hills Ho­tel, also talked about her life with hus­band, ac­tor-di­rec­tor John Krasinki, and their two daugh­ters.

Ex­cerpts from our chat:

Who put the magic in your own child­hood?

I would have to say my mother’s mother— my nana, we called her—she was like a Mary Pop­pins for us. She was a very mag­i­cal per­son, quite ec­cen­tric and bizarre. So she re­minded me of Mary Pop­pins (laughs). Funny, warm and lov­ing, she was the kind of per­son who could rus­tle up an in­cred­i­ble feast with a few items in her fridge.

And she was an amaz­ing artist. She would make up sto­ries for us and was end­lessly lov­ing. So I would say my nana was a huge in­flu­ence on all of us.

What do you re­mem­ber about watch­ing “Mary Pop­pins” when you were a child? And what mem­o­ries of see­ing the orig­i­nal came to your mind when you were of­fered the role? I am­pretty sure it was one of the first films that I ever saw. Prob­a­bly at a re­ally young age, 6 maybe. And be­cause I de­cided be­fore I played Mary Pop­pins not to re­watch the orig­i­nal as an adult, I did have this sear­ing mem­ory of her that I wanted to honor. Yet this was go­ing to be my ver­sion of her. I didn’t want to just im­per­son­ate Julie An­drews, who is so beau­ti­ful, and what she did should be trea­sured, pre­served and not butchered by me, hope­fully.

So I knew if I was go­ing to take on this role, I just had to com­pletely carve out a new space for my­self as this is the next chap­ter in a dif­fer­ent time, a darker time, dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion.

How did your chil­dren re­act when they saw your ver­sion of Mary Pop­pins?

They have seen the orig­i­nal. It was al­most like I was wor­ried that they were go­ing to re­ject my ver­sion (laughs) be­cause they are such die-hard Julie An­drews fans. I thought Hazel would be like, “Well, you are not Mary Pop­pins. She’s Mary Pop­pins.”

But I ex­plained to her. I said, “You know how you have just seen Mary Pop­pins? Do you want to see mommy play Mary Pop­pins? Mommy is go­ing to play Mary Pop­pins in this film.” That must be so bizarre for my kids to un­der­stand what I do for a liv­ing. God knows what they think I do.

Did you take care of kids in one of your first jobs be­fore be­com­ing an ac­tress?

I was a babysit­ter. I babysat from a re­ally young age, from 14. Then, I also worked in a cater­ing com­pany. I was usu­ally wash­ing the dishes in the kitchen. So it was a com­bi­na­tion of babysit­ting and the cater­ing com­pany work.

Is it stress­ful when you shoot those big mu­si­cal num­bers with many

ac­tors and dancers in­volved be­cause if you make a mis­take, ev­ery­body has to do the scene again?

You are right and I think very of­ten, I did make mis­takes. You could see 30 lamp­lighters like out of breath (laughs). “OK, let’s go back, let’s go back.” And I had an easy task. I was just lifted by the lamp­lighters, and they were do­ing all the lift­ing.

I am sure it was very of­ten me mak­ing the mis­takes be­cause they are pro­fes­sional dancers. But that was a re­ally big num­ber. That was one of the most ex­cit­ing times for me on a shoot.

Can you talk about work­ing again with Meryl Streep?

I adore be­ing around Meryl Streep. I love breath­ing the same air as her all day. She is so ex­cit­ing to work with as an ac­tress, com­pletely un­ex­pected and sur­pris­ing. She throws curve balls at you all day. And she is ab­so­lutely bonkers in this role, and she is so funny. That’s ac­tu­ally her swing­ing around the chan­de­lier. She is com­pletely mad.

Meryl said to the kids who were do­ing a scene with her— ev­ery­one was hang­ing around be­tween takes—“Have you ever seen a prat­fall?” The kids were like, “No.” She goes, “Watch this.” She stood and just went like that—she just hit the deck. I thought she was dead and I was like, that’s it, that’s how Meryl Streep dies.

It was ex­tra­or­di­nary. She fell flat on her face and ev­ery­one gasped. The crew ran for­ward, but she stood up and was like, “I learned that at Yale (laughs).” She is so awe­some. The kids were like, “She is my hero af­ter that.”

Still on kids, were you bul­lied as a child?

Kids didn’t un­der­stand why I couldn’t speak prop­erly. Stut­ter­ing is some- thing that peo­ple still poke fun at. It is a dis­abil­ity. You can’t tease just be­cause peo­ple sound and look funny when they stut­ter. I looked and sounded funny. The kids were like, “Why can’t you say it, just say it!” Even a teacher of mine was like, “Spit it out!”

And that is a prob­lem. Peo­ple are very mis­in­formed on the is­sue. A lot of adults are still go­ing through [stut­ter­ing]. There are many adults out there who have never been given the right treat­ment. They find it im­pos­si­ble to get the kind of job that they de­serve and which they are highly qual­i­fied for. They can’t rep­re­sent who they are in these meet­ings be­cause they are hin­dered by their speech im­ped­i­ment. It’s just been an in­ter­est­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me with the stut­ter­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions that I have worked with.

What ad­vice would you give to young­sters who are be­ing bul­lied?

My ad­vice to kids is—my daugh­ter said it best— she was at this sum­mer camp and a kid was mean to her.

I said, “So, what are you go­ing to say to that girl to­mor­row if she says some­thing mean?” She goes, “I am go­ing to say, I am go­ing to go find a kind kid.” I went, “There you go, that is the per­fect thing to say. There are al­ways kind kids around you and there are al­ways peo­ple around you who are happy to talk to you and are there for you and don’t feel alone. Ev­ery­body gets bul­lied, ev­ery­body goes through it and ev­ery­body has some­thing. I prom­ise you there’s light on the other side.”

That is what I say to all of those kids. It will pass, and you will grow and learn from it. To be dif­fer­ent and be an in­di­vid­ual is the most im­por­tant thing in the world.


Emily Blunt brings her own grace and charm as the mag­i­cal nanny in “Mary Pop­pins Re­turns.”

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