Mary Poppins Returns producer Marc Platt and director Rob Marshall have confirmed that Lin-Manuel Miranda will indeed rap (period-appropriate style) in the Disney sequel. While Miranda has been acting professionally in film, television and theater for over a decade now, he really shot to fame three years ago thanks to his 2015 stage musical Hamilton. The actor/songwriter picked up numerous accolades - including, multiple Tonys - for his efforts on the show, which itself tells the story of the U.S. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.
Miranda costars in Mary Poppins Returns as Jack, a lamp-lighter - and the former apprentice to Dick Van Dyke's chimney sweep Bert from the original Mary Poppins - who joins the practically perfect nanny (Emily Blunt) on her second visit to London to help the Banks family. The Mary Poppins sequel is the latest in a string of Disney and Miranda collaborations that includes the animated film Moana (which features songs/music by Miranda) and the DuckTales reboot cartoon series (where Miranda voices Gizmoduck).
Seeing as Mary Poppins Returns boasts Miranda's first major live-action film role since he brought Hamilton's tale to life through such music styles as rap and hip-hop, it's only fitting that he get to put his rapping talents to use on the big screen next. Platt revealed the news when Screen Rant spoke to him about Miranda on the Mary Poppins sequel's set:
Wonderful song and dance man, wonderful actor, which is what he's doing in this film. And he inhabits the role of Jack and creates a wholly original character, playing this leerie. And he gets to do all the things that you want to see Lin do. He gets to be charismatic. He gets to bring light into the world. He sings. He dances. And, believe it or not, 1934 music hall style he even gets to do a little rap. It's quite extraordinary.
Marshall, in a separate interview from the film's set, also sang Miranda's praises and spoke about wanting to carry the modern sensibility and energy of his work on Hamilton over to Mary Poppins Returns, in order to bring the film's Depression-era 1930s setting to life in a way that will resonate with audiences today. The filmmaker further confirmed that Miranda will rap in the movie, similar to how Bert performed as a one-man band at the start of the original Mary Poppins:
Here’s the thing about Lin, and if you spend time with him you would see…he's like a bright pure spirit, and that's truly who he is. So in addition to all the amazing skills he has as a writer and a composer, there's not a jaded quality about him, which is very unique. And we were looking for a wonderful companion to Mary Poppins who goes on these adventures, someone with that same spirit, that sort of purity of spirit. This is the first project he chose to do after “Hamilton,” and the contemporary thing was actually very helpful, because we made this film that is set in 1934, in 2018.
And oddly enough, he is kind of an everyman, his character, and Lin understands that. The kind of character Dick Van Dyke played, which is the kind of character he's playing, not a chimney sweep, but a lamplighter, but there are a lot of similarities. At the beginning of the film he's rapping like he’s a one-man band, which just felt so right for him. The big question was what he would be interested in doing as his first project after “Hamilton,” and I think he was excited to be seen as an actor again and not as a composer or writer. Plus, I think he was excited to do his first big film, and seeing as how he had just become a father to another beautiful child, it just sat right with him.
Based on these quotes, it seems Mary Poppins Returns is aiming to pay homage to its predecessor by recapturing its whimsical spirit, yet at the same time updating and renovating it for moviegoers in 2018. Recruiting Miranda and having him rap in ways that are reminiscent of Van Dyke's solo numbers from the original 1964 film feels like a smart way to go about doing just that, all things considered. At the very least, it ought to help convince more people to finally hop aboard the Hamilton train and give Miranda's historical musical extravaganza a shot - one they most certainly should not throw away.
- Mary Poppins Returns (2018) release date: Dec 19, 2018