Dick Van Dyke has been entertaining audiences for nearly 60 years and has since become a much-loved figure thanks to his cheerful, upbeat demeanor as well as his passion for all things musical. As well as appearing on our TV screens in shows such as Diagnosis Murder and The Dick Van Dyke Show, the actor is most renowned for his starring roles in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and of course, Mary Poppins.
Though his accent is somewhat dubious and hard to decipher at times, Van Dyke’s role of Bert, the chimney sweep, is loved wholeheartedly. The movie made both Van Dyke and co-star Julie Andrews into huge stars, and remains a favorite of many. News that a Mary Poppins sequel was in the works was a worry for some, but as work on the project progresses, it seems as though Mary Poppins Returns could well be something worth making a song and dance about — and Van Dyke has now confirmed that he will appear.
In an extensive feature on actors over 90, Van Dyke talks to THR about the original Mary Poppins, before confirming he will appear alongside Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins and Lin-Manuel Miranda as lamplighter Jack.
“There was a spirit about that thing from the very beginning. Walt [Disney] had me in, and I heard the score and saw the scenes storyboarded on a wall, and I just knew. This one supposedly takes place 20 years later and the kids are all grown up. It’s a great cast — Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury and that guy [Lin-Manuel Miranda] from Hamilton.”
The exact nature of Van Dyke’s appearance is not known, whether it will be a cameo or a slightly larger part, but Miranda’s character is said to be a protege of Van Dyke’s Bert, so it could well be that the pair will share scenes. He might be 91 years of age, but Van Dyke can still dance and sing, so it would be great to see that utilized in a reprisal of his role, if that were at all possible. The confirmation of his involvement might mean Andrews could come on board, too, even if it’s just for a fleeting appearance.
Mary Poppins Returns will revisit Jane and Michael Banks as disillusioned adults (rumored to be played by Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw), with the titular nanny returning when the pair suffer a personal tragedy. Mary Poppins Returns will be directed by Rob Marshall (Into the Woods), with a score and songs from Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray). Joining the aforementioned cast will be Colin Firth as William Weatherall Wilkins, President of Fidelity Fiduciary Bank. Fans of the original Mary Poppins will recognize that name as the bank where George Banks worked.
Rather like Disney’s upcoming live-action Beauty and the Beast, which was met with skepticism at first, Mary Poppins Returns is something most people are warming to as more news comes out concerning the casting and the direction the movie is taking. Certainly Van Dyke’s involvement is a big plus, along with the rest of the impressive cast list. Add to that the pedigree of Marshall, tied in with Shaiman and Wittman’s proven songwriting ability, and Mary Poppins’ Return could be a very welcome one indeed.