Julie Andrews Mary Poppins

Certain silver screen characters are inextricably linked to individual actors. Harrison Ford will always be Indiana Jones, Mark Hamill will always be Luke Skywalker and Clint Eastwood will always be Dirty Harry. For a long time, Julie Andrews' portrayal of Mary Poppins fell into that category, but that will change next year with Emily Blunt stepping into the role when Mary Poppins Returns debuts. Faced with the pressure of replacing Andrews, Blunt recently revealed that she's not looking to the original Mary Poppins for inspiration because she's going back to the original books to guide her instead. Blunt explained:

I started to watch the film and then decided that wasn't the way that would best serve me trying to come up with something original, so I just read the books and I found so much there. The books quickly became the source for me. I'm one of these people that, when I have an instinct about a character and I find an 'in,' I just go with it. The character jumped off the page and I immediately had an instinct about how to play her, and it's in the direction the books were leading me to go.

As far as inspiration goes, looking to the source material as a means to guide Emily Blunt's portrayal of Mary Poppins seems like a smart bet. This allows her to deviate from what has already been done on the silver screen, while still crafting the character from a place that feels authentic and genuine to what she's supposed to be. If she only tries to copy Julie Andrews' legendary performance, audiences will notice, and the film will suffer as a result. Blunt is instead crafting something new that will stand on its own -- drawing inspiration from the Mary Poppins books, and a dash of Hildy Johnson from His Girl Friday, per Blunt in a recent chat with EW.

Early descriptions of Blunt's version of the character have described her as a slightly meaner version of Mary (or as mean as Mary can reasonably get), which already seems to bode quite well for the upcoming sequel. Beyond that, the transition to a new version of the iconic character will be made considerably easier by the fact that this new story will take her to Depression-era London to care for a new generation of Banks children. It's a new world populated by new personalities. After all, with eight Mary Poppins novels to draw inspiration from, there's no shortage of material to adapt that has nothing to do with Andrews' performance.

Despite Emily Blunt's decision to adhere more to the book than Julie Andrews' performance in the original Mary Poppins film, it's worth mentioning that a certain degree of continuity will exist between these stories. Specifically, Mary Poppins Returns still exists in the universe of the first movie, and the sequel will include cameos from key Mary Poppins performers like Dick Van Dyke. While Mary may change ever so slightly as a new actress steps in for the role, the core DNA of a Mary Poppins movie will likely remain similar to the original.

Mary Poppins Returns will hit theaters on Christmas Day 2018. For more particulars about the rest of 2017's most highly anticipated theatrical debuts, make sure to check out CinemaBlend's comprehensive movie premiere guide!

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