Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns takes place 25 years after the original film, although it has been 54 years since the first film was released. As such, you may notice some contemporary differences infused with the new film’s DNA. Most notably, more people of color and some modern-day hip-hop in the music. These are just some of the small details that blend in the new with the old. More so, the sequel brings in some of today’s biggest stars in place of some of the original cast.
One of those biggest additions is Lin-Manuel Miranda, who plays Jack, a lamplighter and one of Bert’s proteges. In the film, he helps out Mary Poppins, the self-appointed nanny of the Banks family. While he may not be as magical as the title character, he shares that same child-like wonder and sense of hope whenever he is around Mary, all the while breaking out into song and dance.
We had a chance recently to sit down with our fellow journalists to talk to the cast and crew of Mary Poppins Returns. There, Miranda talked about what it was like to get the call to be in the film and how the sequel isn’t the first time you hear rapping in a Mary Poppins film. Check out what he had to say here below.
Miranda was still working on Hamilton when he got the call to be a part of Mary Poppins Returns. Of course, by that time, his Broadway musical was already a huge hit and gained the attention of many studios. But it wasn’t easy for Miranda to find time for studio meetings since as he was working two shows a day.
“When I got a call from Rob Marshall and John De Luca, ‘We’d like to talk to you about something,’ that became an immediate priority. They came in to buy me a drink in between shows, I was still at Hamilton at the time, I had a two-show day. So I finished the matinee, and rolled across the street to the Paramount hotel, and met them for a drink, and they said a sequel to Mary Poppins. And I said, ‘Who’s playing Mary Poppins?!’ And they said, ‘Emily Blunt.’ And I said, ‘Oh, that’s good!.'”
Miranda credited the Marshall and De Luca for seeing the character of Jack in him. When comparing the character of Jack to his Alexander Hamilton, Miranda said the two could not be any more different.
“There is no childlike wonder in Alexander Hamilton,” Miranda said. “He had a very traumatic early life. He goes on that stage and he wants to devour the world so fast and he wants to do everything. Whereas Jack, in this movie, he was this childlike sense of wonder. He’s in touch with that imagination you all see in your kids when they can sort of play in their own imaginations. Jack never lost that.”
The Hamilton creator was humbled that the two saw those qualities in him. But Miranda taking on the role of Jack doesn’t compare to what he saw in his son’s eyes as he watched his father on the set of the film. “To watch his eyes like saucers while daddy danced with what seemed like 500 dancers and bikers, I will never forget the look on his face for as long as I live,” Miranda said.
As for the hip-hop influence on the film, Miranda encourages everyone to rewatch the first one because this isn’t the first time that there’s rapping in a Mary Poppins film.
“Everyone who says, ‘Wow, there’s rapping in Mary Poppins Returns,’ forgets that Bert has a 30-second rap about all the women he dated before Mary Poppins. We’ve all forgotten it.”
Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns opens in theaters on December 19, 2018.