When Rob Marshall asked Julie Andrews to make an appearance in Mary Poppins Returns, the 83-year-old actress, who played the famous nanny in the original film, turned him down. According to the director of the sequel, Andrews refused a role out of respect for Emily Blunt, saying she didn’t want to take away from Blunt’s spotlight as the new Ms. Poppins.
“She immediately said no,” explained Marshall at the film’s premiere, who, along with producing partner John DeLuca, pitched the role of balloon lady to Andrews at a Christmas party a couple of years ago. “She said, ‘This is Emily’s show and I want her to run with this. She should run with this. This is hers. I don’t want to be on top of that.'”
Blunt echoed the director’s words in an interview with Variety, saying that Andrews was “very hands-off” with Disney’s remake of the 1964 flick. “She said to Rob, ‘Do you know what this is? This is Emily’s version of her and I don’t want it to be that she’s playing Mary Poppins the whole way through but then I come in and there’s like oh, but there’s the real Mary Poppins, you know?'”
Despite turning down a spot in the sequel, however, Andrews has given the film a glowing endorsement, notes Marshall. “Emily is the perfect person to carry the torch, and I know Julie feels the exact same way. She loves her.”
The former Ms. Poppins isn’t the only one excited about the sequel, which has received rave early reviews from critics. Mary Poppins Returns is set to be released in theaters on December 19 in the U.S.