Director Rob Marshall is revealing why screen legend Julie Andrews will not be appearing in Mary Poppins Returns. While many fans associate Andrews with her iconic role as Maria von Trapp in the 1965 film musical The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins is arguably one of the most important films in the actresses’ stellar career. The 1964 Disney classic only marked the big screen debut for the then-Broadway star, it brought Andrews her first and only Oscar win for Best Actress.
Naturally, when Disney announced the sequel in 2015, the first question that was undoubtedly on fans’ minds was whether Andrews would somehow be making an appearance. In an interview with EW this week, Marshall explains that while Andrews has “one thousand percent” been supportive of Mary Poppins Returns, and she’s particularly thrilled with Blunt being cast to play the titular role. Marshall says:
“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.”
Marshall, who first worked with Andrews on the Broadway version of Victor/Victoria, says the screen icon turned down a chance to be in the film for one simple reason: She didn’t want to take away any attention from Blunt. Marshall adds:
“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.’”
While fans of the original Mary Poppins will likely be saddened to learn Andrews will not appear in the sequel, the actress’ reasoning commands a huge amount of respect. After all, she defined the role of Mary Poppins in 1964, and clearly wants to give Blunt an opportunity to make the role her own for a new generation of fans.
When all is said and done, fans will undoubtedly be happier living with the memory of Andrews’ version of Mary Poppins in the classic original, rather than seeing her play a cameo as another character, simply to acknowledge that she was involved in the project.
That’s not to say Mary Poppins fans won’t get a little bit of the classic Disney version in the film. Dick Van Dyke, who memorably played Bert in the original film, will assume the role of Mr. Dawes Junior (Van Dyke also played Mr. Dawes Senior in the original Mary Poppins), and Disney legend Angela Lansbury will appear as well, as the Balloon Lady.
Andrews, meanwhile, will soon be reprising another role on the big screen, as the voice of Gru’s mom in Despicable Me 3. The actress first provided the role of the character in 2010’s Despicable Me, but did not appear in the film’s first sequel.