Mary Poppins Returns has an impressive new cast that brings back a lot of famous characters from the original movie. Mary Poppins was first brought to life by author P.L. Travers, who famously resisted Disney's charms for a long time before she gave in and allowed him to turn her stories into a movie. Mary Poppins was a runaway success, and is widely considered to be Disney's crowning achievement. Released in 1964, it received a massive 13 Academy Award nominations and won five, including Best Actress for Julie Andrews, Best Original Score, and Best Song.
Travers wrote eleven original Mary Poppins stories, and with such a wealth of source material, it was always something of a surprise that there was never a sequel made. With 54 years gone by, Mary Poppins Returns now takes us back to Cherry Tree Lane, and Jane and Michael Banks, who are now adults.
While the Mary Poppins Returns cast list is (mostly) brand new, a lot of the characters will be familiar. Here's a rundown of who's playing who.
Returning Characters In The Mary Poppins Returns Cast
Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins: The titular nanny from both Travers' book series and the Disney classic, Mary Poppins is magical, strict, fun, and firm. In fact, she's practically perfect in every way. Played originally, of course, by Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins has become one of Disney's best-loved and most well-known characters.
In Mary Poppins Returns, the nanny is played by Emily Blunt, who has already earned rave reviews for her performance. It can't be an easy task to take on; Andrews made that role her own and will be forever associated with it. Yet, Blunt has managed to emulate Andrew's performance, while providing a unique, clipped spin. Fans of the original will surely be pleased with Blunt's turn.
Dick Van Dyke is Mr. Dawes Jr.: Dick Van Dyke played both Bert and Mr. Dawes Sr., head of Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, in Mary Poppins. This time around, he plays Mr. Dawes Jr., who was played by Albert Malet in Mary Poppins. Van Dyke is a firm favorite, and fans will be overjoyed to see the 93-year-old tap dancing on screen. Along with Andrews, he is the essence of Mary Poppins, and allowing him to play the now elderly son of the original bank manager in Mary Poppins Returns is the perfect way to include such a legend.
Ben Whishaw is Michael Banks: Michael Banks was a cheeky young boy in Mary Poppins, played by Matthew Garber, who passed away in 1977. Now an adult, Michael is a father to three, and a widow, grieving the loss of his wife. Mary Poppins returns to "look after the Banks children," referring to Michael and his sister, Jane, not the younger Banks family members. Michael is now played by Ben Whishaw, who best known for being the voice of Paddington, and playing Q in the James Bond franchise. Most recently he's received acclaimed reviews for his role in BBC drama A Very English Scandal, in which he starred opposite Hugh Grant.
Emily Mortimer is Jane Banks: Jane Banks is Michael's sister, played originally by Karen Dotrice, who has a cameo in Mary Poppins Returns. As a child, she too was cheeky, but a lot smarter than her younger brother. Now an adult, Jane is trying to help her brother through his grief, while looking out for her young nephews and niece. She is played by Emily Mortimer, a prolific film and television actress. She has provided voices for Disney in the past, including voicing Holly Shiftwell in Cars 2.
Julie Walters is Ellen: Ellen is Michael's housekeeper in Mary Poppins Returns, just as she was his parents' in the original. She is the only returning servant character to appear, with Julie Walters replacing Hermione Baddeley. Walters recently played a London housekeeper, Mrs. Bird, in the Paddington franchise, but is, of course, an extremely prolific actress from Harry Potter to Mamma Mia.
David Warner is Admiral Boom: The Banks family aren't the only people still living on Cherry Tree Lane. Played originally by Reginald Owen, retired naval officer Admiral Boom's name reflects his loud personality perfectly, with him firing a cannon every hour, on the hour (almost). David Warner takes up the role in Mary Poppins Returns, a recognizable British actor from many movies and TV shows including Ripper Street and Wallander.
Jim Norton is Mr. Binnacle: Mr. Binnacle is Admiral Boom's first mate, and assists him in monitoring all the goings on (weather included) on Cherry Tree Lane. He was originally played by Don Barclay (although his role was dubbed by George Banks' actor David Tomlinson). This time around, Jim Norton takes on the role. He is a well known British actor, and has had many theater and TV roles including playing Bishop Len Brennan in the sitcom Father Ted.
New Characters In The Mary Poppins Returns Cast
Lin-Manuel Miranda is Jack: A former apprentice to Bert (played in Mary Poppins by Dick Van Dyke), Jack is a lamplighter who befriends the young Banks children. He already knows Mary Poppins - presumably from Bert's tales - and is only too happy to set off on many adventures with her and the children. Lin-Manuel Miranda is best known for his smash hit musical Hamilton, which is now a global success. He's already worked with Disney, writing music for Moana and voicing Gizmoduck for Ducktales. In 2019 you can also catch him in the TV adaptation of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials. This is Miranda's biggest movie role to date, and the musical nature of Mary Poppins Returns suits him perfectly, as does the character of Jack.
Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson are Annabel, John, and Georgie Banks: The three youngest members of the Banks family are, obviously, new additions; their father was a child the last time Mary Poppins visited. Now Michael's a widowed father, and Annabel, John and Georgie are finding life tough. With the arrival of Mary Poppins comes a whole new adventure for them as she takes them into a fantasy land along with lamp-lighter Jack.
Meryl Streep is Topsy: The casting of Meryl Streep in a Disney musical can simply never be a bad thing. Streep plays Topsy, an eccentric cousin of Mary Poppins who hails from Eastern Europe, and her performance is said to be wacky and a whole lot of fun. Mary Poppins Returns reunites Streep and Blunt with director Rob Marshall, who also helmed Into the Woods.
Colin Firth is William Weatherall Wilkins: Colin Firth has already been in a musical with Streep, twice, in fact, in both Mamma Mia movies. This time, he's playing the strait-laced William Weatherall Wilkins, who now runs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank. As Michael Banks' finances fall upon hard times and the country sinks into a depression, the bank stands ready to repossess Michael's house. Will Firth's Wilkins have a change of heart like Mr. Dawes did in Mary Poppins? Or could he be immune to Mary's magic?
Angela Lansbury is Balloon Lady: Everyone's favorite teapot, Angela Lansbury appears in Mary Poppins Returns as a balloon seller in the park (a nod to the bird lady from the original, but not the same character). Lansbury has enjoyed a long and distinguished career and, like Van Dyke, she's still performing aged 93. This might not be her largest role, but she brings an extra sprinkling of magic to an already enchanting movie.
- Mary Poppins Returns (2018) release date: Dec 19, 2018