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Disney Mary Poppins Returns’ Director Rob Marshall on Being Inspired and Inspiring Others #MaryPoppinsReturns

“I was honored to be invited to the #MaryPoppinsReturnsEvent, a Disney press junket for Disney Mary Poppins Returns. As a guest, my expenses were covered in return for a series of articles about my experiences and reviews of the programming.


I have been sharing my experiences of visiting Los Angeles for the Mary Poppins Returns Event over the last few days. I hope you haven’t missed any of it, but if you have you can click on Mary Poppins Returns movie to get caught up. Today, I’m sharing what I learned during our interview with director Rob Marshall. As bloggers fortunate enough to get to be a part of these Disney movie interviews we are usually the ones trying to set an upbeat mood with the talent. During our interview with Rob Marshall he returned that favor to us. Just look at how he greeted us.


I’ve said this to Leslie, my publicist, it’s always my favorite moment to be with you guys. No it is. It’s a whole different experience so thank you.


How can you not love that? We all did and it lead to a great interview with Rob Marshall.


Group photo with Mary Poppins Returns director Rob Marshall


About Disney Mary Poppins Returns

MARY POPPINS RETURNS stars Emily Blunt as the practically-perfect nanny with unique magical skills who can turn any task into an unforgettable, fantastic adventure; Lin-Manuel Miranda as her friend Jack, an optimistic street lamplighter who helps bring light—and life—to the streets of London; Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks; Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks; and Julie Walters as the Banks’ housekeeper Ellen; with Colin Firth as Fidelity Fiduciary Bank’s William Weatherall Wilkins; and Meryl Streep as Mary’s eccentric cousin, Topsy. The film also introduces three new Banks’ children played by Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh and newcomer Joel Dawson. Angela Lansbury appears as the Balloon Lady, a treasured character from the PL Travers books and Dick Van Dyke is Mr. Dawes Jr., the retired chairman of the bank now run by Firth’s character.


Mary Poppins Returns will be released in U.S. theaters on December 19, 2018.


Take a look at this latest Disney Mary Poppins Returns movie trailer


Disney Mary Poppins Returns‘ director Rob Marshall

What came through loud and clear through our interview with Disney Mary Poppins Returns‘ director Rob Marshall was both how he was inspired to create a new Mary Poppins movie and how we was able to inspire his cast to do the impossible. Actors and actresses who had never sung, dance, or travelled through the air by way of umbrella or balloons did so in Mary Poppins Returns. Take a look at what we learned about Rob Marshall and the moments that left us and will leave you INSPIRED.


Mary Poppins Returns director Rob Marshall

Photo credit


Inspiring your team is like being a parent

While those might not have been the exact words Rob Marshall used that is how he feels. In every Disney press junket I’ve been to there’s always one person that all the others show a great admiration for. In interview after interview, the cast will lavish that person with praise. For Mary Poppins Returns, that person was director Rob Marshall. As Ben Whishaw said in our earlier interview, ““When Rob likes you, he really, really, really, really… He doesn’t hold back. You feel his love. You feel his excitement about what you might bring to the table. In a way that’s everything…“ It’s a sentiment we heard often. From the comments of others to Rob Marshall quotes I pulled from our interview (see below), it’s clear. He takes his job as a director very seriously. He wants his cast to know he believes in them just as a parent would believe in his child.


You know it’s sort of interesting when I work with actors I really find they need to feel positive reinforcement. It’s such a simple thing to do. It’s like being a really good parent. I try and achieve that when we’re working. For example Ben Whishaw, who plays Michael Banks, he’s never sung before. He was sort of nervous about how do you do that and I always feel that people can do so much. It’s just feeling that they can and knowing that they can.


Mary Poppins Returns Ben Whishaw

Ben Whishaw is Michael Banks in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.


I like to protect them in rehearsals. We had over 2 months of rehearsal. It was during that time that you can fail and be bad. Then learn to get better and not feel judged. That’s a really important thing.


Mary Poppins Returns Director Rob Marshall with Emily Blunt

Rob Marshall and Emily Blunt on the set of Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 film MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.


I like to protect actors to make them feel they can do things and try things.


Rob Marshall’s inspiration for my favorite Mary Poppins Returns scene

My favorite scene in Mary Poppins Returns is the bathtub scene. It’s towards the beginning of the film. Besides coming in on a kite, it’s the Banks’ children’s first chance to experience the magic and wonder Mary Poppins can bring to their lives. I’ve always loved the water and the ocean. And in this scene Mary Poppins takes everything we can imagine and love about the ocean and brings it into a fantastical adventure for the kids. I just had to know what was director Rob Marshall’s inspiration for that scene. Take a look at what he shared.


Mary Poppins Returns director Rob Marshall

Photo Credit Jana Seitzer


It’s her first adventure. She arrives and so you have to look for something. The great thing about the PL Travers books is that even though there’s no narrative to any them they’re all just episodic. It’s all about taking an ordinary everyday event and turning it into something magical. An adventure that’s fun and even cleaning up your room turns into an adventure in the first film right? So I was looking for something that kids hate and it’s taking a bath.


Mary Poppins Returns bath tub scene

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins and Nathanael Saleh is John in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.


I thought how can she turn– because they’re so cynical, the kids, except for the little one who loves her and believes. They’re all sort of judgmental and wary. I thought the great thing about Mary Poppins, she does these adventures, but denies them ever happening and kinda’ just does them without announcing them.


All of a sudden that dolphin comes up. Mary Poppins goes not yet, and things like that. You know what’s going on. But I thought that could open up to a beautiful world and there is an underwater adventure. It’s not from a bathtub, but there is an underwater adventure in one of the Mary Poppins books. There are 8 of them. I thought well we could use sort of the feeling of the PL Travers underwater.


Mary Poppins Returns costumes from the bathroom scene, designed by Sandy Powell.

Mary Poppins Returns costumes from the bathroom scene, designed by Sandy Powell.


Then I came up with this idea of her seeing all the people from the neighborhood below the water as they’re moving through and trying to open the eyes of these kids that have grown up too fast, been forced to become adults too quickly.


They’ve taken on the adult responsibilities because the mother’s gone. I sort of found our way with that and then you work backwards. You’re like then they have to become a complete mess for them to have to take a bath in the middle of the day so then that’s the muddy park. It all sort of feeds together.


Watch the beginning of the Mary Poppins Returns bathtub scene in this clip


Easter Eggs in Mary Poppins Returns… How much? How many?

Let’s start with just how many Easter eggs are there in the Mary Poppins Returns movie. Between watching the movie, reading what others have noticed, and our interview with director Rob Marshall I counted 16 Easter eggs in the Mary Poppins Returns movie.


16 Easter eggs in Mary Poppins Returns

  1. The “Votes for Women” sash that Winnifred wore in the original Mary Poppins movie is the tail for the kite in Mary Poppins Returns.
  2. Carrying on like her mother Jane Banks is champion for the rights of others, this time a laborer.
  3. The parrot on Mary Poppins’ umbrella still talks.
  4. Disney animators were brought out of retirement to create a new dancing penguin scene created in the same style of animation as the first Mary Poppins movie.
  5. Some lyrics from the songs Richard Sherman wrote for Mary Poppins have made it into the soundtrack of Mary Poppins Returns. You can see and buy or download the Mary Poppins Returns movie soundtrack on Amazon with this link.
  6. Jack, the lamplighter was an apprentice to Bert, the chimney sweeper. Look for the moment he talks about that in the movie.
  7. The toy blocks have been replicated. The original toy blocks are in the Disney archives. Since Rob Marshall couldn’t get permission to use them, he recreated them for Mary Poppins Returns. They are in the attic scene.
  8. Also in the attic scene is the snow globe from the original Mary Poppins movie. The snow globe was also recreated.
  9. Dick Van Dyke returns but this time as the elderly bank owner.
  10. The table in the front hall is from the original movie. Rob told us how he saw at Club 33 at Disneyland and had to have it for the film if they let him, which they did.
  11. Rob Marshall’s team created their own version of the kite for Mary Poppins Returns.
  12. When Dick Van Dyke does a monologue listen for Feed the Birds playing.
  13. Angela Lansbury, Disney movie icon, makes a cameo as a speaking and singing balloon lady.
  14. In the closing scenes when everyone starts floating in the air you can hear A Little Let’s Go Fly A Kite.
  15. Towards the end of that scene, Mary Poppins sees her reflection in a balloon while a Spoon Full of Sugar plays in the background.
  16. Finally, and though not confirmed elsewhere, I do believe the opening scene pays tribute to the bird lady of Mary Poppins. When you watch Mary Poppins Returns you will have to come back and comment if you agree with me.


Rob shared with us how he was intentional and careful in how he used references to the first Mary Poppins movie. He wanted to strike a balance between showing it respect without overdoing it. He explained, “Those are very specific things from the first film that I really wanted to hold onto if I could. That’s for the people who love the first film who know it. It’s those first little Easter eggs.  I use myself as honestly as a barometer the whole time. What would I wanna’ see? I wouldn’t want to abuse it too much because it’s very easy to sort of overdo it, but I wanted to specifically and strategically place things that meant something to people.” 


Rob later said, “I strategically placed songs like the items, like the props and things.  In fact, the majority of (the Easter eggs) happens literally in the last 15 minutes. Because I feel like we’ve earned it  by that time. I feel like she looks in the balloon and you hear a Spoon Full of Sugar or they’re up in the air and you hear A Little Let’s Go Fly A Kite.


Mary Poppins sequel? What about a Mary Poppins prequel?

With 8 Mary Poppins books we had to know could there by another Mary Poppins sequel? What about a Mary Poppins prequel? This is what director Rob Marshall had to say about that.


That’s such a good question. I’m just sort of holding my breath to see how this movie’s embraced, hopefully, and how it does. If people accept it and are excited by it. And if it does I think there will be talk about it because there is a lot of material. We walked through it and cherry picked what we thought were the best adventures that we could musicalize and create like a set piece to. But I will say there was a lot left on the table as we were working through that.


Mary Poppins Returns Director Rob Marshall

Mary Poppins Returns Director Rob Marshall. Photo Credit Disney


A final thought from our interview with Mary Poppins Returns Director Rob Marshall

Rob shared this thought with us early on in our interview, but it resonated with me and I think it’s a great quote to close out our feature on director Rob Marshall.

I honestly felt like if we (the cast and team) did it together from the right place with a great respect for the first film and found our own way at the same time then we would at least have done it in the right way. Then you hope that it works.


I definitely feel it works with Disney Mary Poppins Returns. Go read the rest of what we’ve shared about Mary Poppins Returns and let me know what you think!


Watch Disney Mary Poppins Returns now playing at your local theater!


For the latest details on Mary Poppins Returns


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