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How Mary Poppins Returns Convinced Meryl Streep To Join

Meryl Streep in Mary Poppins Returns

Entertainment trends usually spread fast, and that's exactly what happened with nostalgia. The longing to return to simpler time seems universal, resulting in endless reboots, revivals, and long awaited sequels. Disney has capitalized on this by creating live-action remakes of classic animated features, but it's also going the more direct sequel route with Mary Poppins Returns.

Mary Poppins Returns will pick up decades after the events of the 1964 classic, as the titular nanny returns to the Banks family when they are once again in need for her guidance (and the occasional musical number). The film will star Emily Blunt as the role made famous by Julie Andrews, as well as some living legends who make up the supporting cast. They include Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, and Meryl Streep. Streep is playing Mary's cousin Topsy, and recently explained why she decided to sign on for the mysterious role.

I had no idea what he had in his head. And when he and John invited me over to where they live to talk me through this idea, I thought, 'They're crazy, these two. They're just insane. They've lost their minds. But it was such a big vision, and it was so ambitious that I said, 'Oh well, I want to be in it, absolutely.' Right away.

I guess that's a compliment? Sometimes all it takes is the right vision to help a movie get off the ground, which is exactly what producer John Deluca and his colleagues Rob Marshall and Marc Platt had for Mary Poppins Returns. Per her conversation with EW, this new perspective was crazy enough to get Meryl Streep involved, which helps give some serious star power to the upcoming sequel.

It's currently unclear exactly what the team behind Mary Poppins Returns has in mind. While the story will tackle grief and loss, the upcoming movie isn't going to be a carbon copy of the 1964 original. The cast and crew all seem to be putting their own spin on the beloved character, and Meryl's comments reveal just how new and fresh Mary Poppins Returns.

The scale of Mary Poppins Returns is certainly much larger than the first movie, as is the capabilities Disney has to make Mary's magic occur on the silver screen. While the first movie was mostly practical affects and the occasional cartoon sequence, stunning CGI environments can be seen in the trailers for Mary Poppins Returns. Emily Blunt also seems to have her own spin on the beloved figure, which will hopefully allow the Quiet Place actress to carve out her own corner of the fandom.

As for Meryl Streep's part at Topsy, it's being mostly kept under wraps. The trailers for Mary Poppins Returns mostly focus on the Banks children and Mary, only showing brief shots of Streep and the rest of the supporting cast. Topsy is going to be the eccentric cousin of Mary Poppins, and looks to be her foil in many ways. Smart money says she'll also get a musical number, as Meryl has made herself quite the musical actress in projects like Mamma Mia! and Into The Woods.

Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins

As previously mentioned, Meryl Streep isn't the only living legend to have a supporting role in Mary Poppins Returns. While Streep will get to chew the scenery as Poppy, she'll also be sharing the screen with the likes of Disney icons Angela Lansbury and Dick Van Dyke. The latter is of extra significance, considering his role in the original Mary Poppins movie.

Dick Van Dyke starred as Bert the chimney sweep in the first Mary Poppins movie, arguably the actor's most iconic role. Given the film's modern iconography, Dyke has a special place in hearts of Disney fans. While he'll not be reprising his role as Bert, his upcoming Mary Poppins Returns appearance will still have a very special connection to the original film.

While Bert is what Dick Van Dyke is known for in Mary Poppins, he had a second surprising role when the classic hit theaters. He also played Mr. Dawes Sr, Mr. Banks' boss at the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank. The character could barely walk, and seemed only focus on business. But Dawes Sr. floated into the air in his final moments, inspired by George Banks leaving his job and putting the family first.

In Mary Poppins Returns, Dick Van Dyke will be playing Mr. Dawes Jr., the son of George Banks' former employer (played by British actor Arthur Malet in the original). Dawes Jr is shown briefly in the first trailer for the movie, and looks almost identical to the character Van Dyke played in the first film. His second role was kept a secret when Mary Poppins was released, and was announced through the use of an anagram during the film's credits.

Angela Lansbury is also joining the cast of Mary Poppins Returns, a Disney legend in her own wright for playing the voice of Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast. Lansbury was also shown briefly in the trailer, although her role is even more mysterious than the rest. She's simply credited as "The Balloon Lady", which likely hints at out how the Banks kids will meet her.

The Balloon Lady is probably a nod to the Bird Lady from the original Mary Poppins. "Feed the Birds" is one of the more emotional and surprisingly sincere aspects of the classic disney movie, showing different colors of Julie Andrews' iconic voice. We'll just have to wait until Mary Poppins Returns finally arrives in theaters, to answer the myriad questions asked by the fans.

There are sure to be endless comparisons for Mary Poppins Returns to the original, so it should be fascinating to see how moviegoers react to the highly anticipated project. Emily Blunt is being inspired by both the novels and Julie Andrews' original performance, reportedly being a little less "practically perfect" than her predecessor. Additionally, Marc Shaiman is writing a slew of new songs for the project, which will be compared to the iconic score of Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins Returns will arrive in theaters on December 19, 2018. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.