‘Mary Poppins’ return brings world some magic, cast say

LONDON (Reuters) – The return of Mary Poppins to the big screen brings some much needed magic to the world in uncertain times, the cast of the new film about the beloved nanny said on Wednesday as they premiered the highly anticipated movie in London.

More than 50 years since Julie Andrews won over children – and adults – around the world with her portrayal of the strict but kind nanny, Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns” sees her doing just that, visiting the now-grown up Michael and Jane Banks in their time of need.

Despite cold December weather, the film’s picturesque Cherry Tree Lane blossomed outside the Royal Albert Hall venue, with plenty of the blooming plants sprouting up the stairs to a replica of the Banks’ house.

British actress Emily Blunt led the cast down a blue carpet, just hours after receiving another award nomination for the role based on the books written by P.L. Travers.

“She has a lot of relevance for people around the world when things feel rather fragile,” Blunt told Reuters of the character. “She’s a great unifier.”

Blunt said she had not spoken recently to Andrews, who won an Oscar for her performance in the 1964 “Mary Poppins” film, but had heard she had seen the sequel.

“I hear she’s just seen the film and loved it so that means a lot to us,” said Blunt, who like Andrews, sings in the movie. 

“I hope that generations to come will sing these songs… They’re catchy and wonderful.”

The new film is set some 20 years after the first film, with audiences now introduced to Michael Banks’ own three children.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the award-winning “Hamilton” musical, plays lamp lighter Jack – a similar role to Dick Van Dyke’s chimney sweep in the original movie.

“Mary Poppins doesn’t come along when everything’s OK. Mary Poppins comes along when there’s trouble,” he said. “I feel like the world is in a scary time and so it feels like a movie the world needs right now.”

As guests arrived for the premiere, a few miles away British Prime Minister Theresa May was facing a confidence vote triggered by lawmakers in her Conservative party – a ballot she later won.

“It’s incredibly … ironic somehow that we’re having the premiere tonight just as this vote … is happening,” actress Emily Mortimer, who plays Jane Banks, said.

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“I think we all need a dose of Mary Poppins … She helps people see things from a new perspective.”

Last to arrive was Oscar winner Meryl Streep, who also stars in the film.

“It could be seen as being a sort of a little bit of a joyless moment in time and it’s good to remember what’s lovely in life,” she said.

Reporting by Hanna Rantala and Marie-Louise Gumuchian; additional reporting by Ella Wilkes-Harper; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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