Mary Poppins Returns opens December 19th. Until that time, prepare yourself for a glut of promotion because not only does Disney have to sell this movie, they have to justify it in the context of how much people love the original. The film’s star, Emily Blunt landed the cover of Harper’s Bazaar’s January issue. If you have a moment, I encourage you to click the link and look at the photo spread. I found Richard Phibbs’ photos and the outfits absolutely enchanting. The interview itself isn’t bad either. It was deeper than I expected but still playful (a little like a movie about an English governess). In it, Emily discussed overcoming a childhood stutter, preparing to play Mary Poppins and how she and husband John Krasinski are completely hands-on parents to their two girls, Hazel, four, and Violet, two.
On why she didn’t watch the Julie Andrews film in preparation: Even though I’d seen the film as a child, I decided not to watch it when prepping. She was so clear to me from reading that I decided not to be intimidated by the iconic Julie Andrews in the iconic role, and just approached it as I would any other part.
On when the weight of this role hit her I was about 50 feet in the air, hanging from a crane, having to look effortless… But then one of the camera guys came up to me and said [she slides into Estuary], “It was really emotional, seein’ ’er come back.”
On how acting helped her childhood stutter: Because I couldn’t speak fluently, I watched and listened. I’d be on the Tube, and I’d wonder about people and invent back stories for everyone. There’s always been a natural desire to walk in the shoes of others. It (acting out parts) started quite young, because it was the only tool I had to speak properly. I was that kid, upstairs in my room, trying out stuff in the mirror. But I’d never tell anyone about it. It was always very private.
On parenting: We are both massively hands-on, and we love it. I’m so lucky with John. But I was colossally unprepared for how life-changing it is. Like all mothers, I think, “What was I doing with my day before I had children?” It’s so full-on and they need you so much; I do find myself in a perpetual state of distraction.
On living in Brooklyn: There’s a multicultural, villagey feel, we don’t have a car, we walk everywhere and people are cool, they leave us alone.
On filming in London: I rediscovered how much I adore it. I love the attitude here, the general irreverence and authenticity. I love being back and seeing my friends and going to all the familiar places. When you grow up, it sometimes feels that version of yourself is slipping through your fingers. To rediscover something is really special.
I always feel parents who boast about being “hands-on” are setting themselves up for criticism. No matter how involved you feel you are with your kids, there’s always going to be someone who thinks it’s not enough. Maybe because they aren’t photographed with their kids Emily feels she needs to reassure us. I don’t doubt it’s true, I just don’t know why people feel the need to say it. I’d never assume otherwise, until the kid writes a tell-all. As for remembering what I did with my day before being a mother, I remember exactly how I spent my days. I have different responsibilities now that I have kids but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have them before.
The quote that got to me the most was the one about the camera guy. I’ve been kind of wondering why I was so excited for this film and I think his comment about seeing Mary Poppins come back sums it up. I loved the film as a child, I was comforted by it like most were. I had a rough time when my kids were babies. When I had my first, I put “Disney films” on my Christmas list and my parents sent Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins. I admit, I’d meant the Disney cartoons and was a little bummed until I watched it. It felt like Mary had come back to me as a mom. Now that my kids are teens, I need her again. And I think a new version for this new phase of life will be practically perfect… in every way.
Photo credit: Richard Phibbs/Harpers Bazaar