“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.
How charming is Lin-Manuel Miranda?
I want you to picture a group of 25 women. We’re all in a meeting room seated around a conference room table. Every 30 minutes or so, another actor, actress, or talent associated with Mary Poppins Returns enters the room. We get about 20 minutes to interview each one as a group.
We were scheduled for 6 different interview sessions. Lin-Manuel Miranda was initially one of the first on our schedule. Unfortunately, he came down with laryngitis. He’s behind schedule but he still very much wants to meet with us. Can you imagine that? Here’s this celebrity, star on Broadway and soon to be on the big screen. He could go home and rest. He could do interviews with other media on any other day.. but no he still very much wanted to meet with us. And if that wasn’t charming enough, he greets us by saying, “You’re the highlight of my day. Hello.“
You’re the highlight of my day. – Lin-Manuel Miranda
In MPR all the other ‘real’ adults forget what it’s like to be a child except Jack. Lin-Manuel Miranda gets the honor of playing Jack in MPR a character much like Lin-Manuel himself, youthful and charming. This week, I am sharing my experiences of visiting Los Angeles for the #MaryPoppinsReturnsEvent and the interviews we had. Grab a spot of tea, and take a moment to get to know him. I hope you’ll enjoy my highlights from our Lin-Manuel Miranda interview.
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
7 More Moments Lin-Manuel Miranda Charmed Us
I already shared how Lin-Manuel Miranda charmed us with his presence and his greeting, but it didn’t stop there. Take a look at how the charm continued when we talked to him about the Mary Poppins Returns movie.
The moment Rob Marshall asked Lin-Manuel Miranda to be Jack in Mary Poppins Returns
Lin-Manuel Miranda described what it was like being a Puerto Rican male trying to make it on Broadway. Beyond roles like Bernardo in West Side Story or Paul in A Chorus Line, the opportunities are limited. That lead Lin-Manuel to creating roles and a script that he could cast himself in. That moment he got the call from director Rob Marshall was for him an accomplishment he had been working his entire career for. Here’s how he described it.
..To have Rob Marshall call you and tell you, it’s Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins and you’re the only other person we have in mind. We’re gonna build from there. It felt like the fruit of the harvest. The harvest I began when I was eighteen years old.
How did being in musical theater compare to a musical movie production?
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s quick answer that gave us all a chuckle, “You finish the eight minute dance number and you wait a year and a half for applause.“
After we had a laugh, Lin-Manuel explained, “The difference is the energy source. Doing eight shows a week is a yoga. You’re gonna hit the same positions every night but you’re gonna hit ’em differently depending on your energy, the audience, you’re fellow performers. And you have two [performances] the next day.“
Lin-Manuel continued, “The energy source in making a film is, especially a film like this, today you’re dancing with penguins. Tomorrow you’re singing with Meryl Streep. Friday you’re shutting down Buckingham Palace with 800 bikers. And you’re not coming back. We’re not going back to the penguins next week. You don’t get two shows a day with Meryl Streep. So the adrenaline source becomes this is a once-in-a-lifetime moment and you have to be completely present. And so it just shifts from the audience to the sheer one-of-a-kindness of it.“
The charming Mary Poppins Returns scene that Lin-Manuel Miranda is most proud of
Watching Mary Poppins Returns you can’t help but be charmed and amazed with each musical dance number. The choreography, the different settings, the dancing in different costumes it’s all enough to leave you breathless. There’s no doubt the cast worked hard. The weeks of rehearsal that went into the film show. But we couldn’t help but wonder, what scene was Lin-Manuel Miranda the most proud of.
Lin-Manuel shared, “There are moments that represent hours and hours of hard work like the eight minute, continuous dance sequence in Trip A Little Light Fantastic. Rob ran it as an eight minute dance sequence. There were sort of the three minutes of the song that are getting to that abandoned playground, and that was on location throughout London. And now we’re here, and now we’re in the sewer, and now we’re here. And then there’s that sequence. That sequence was run as if it was a Broadway musical number. From jumping on the lamppost to the flaming sticks balancing on my foot, that was all run with hundreds of cameras around. I’m very proud of that. I’ve never danced like that in my life.“
Reflecting on seeing Mary Poppins and what it meant to Lin-Manuel Miranda
So many of us grew up watching Mary Poppins. We don’t just recall the first time we saw Mary Poppins we recall the many times we watched this classic movie. Though for Lin-Manuel he spent most of his childhood not watching the movie all the way through. I’ll let him explain.
“I remember turning it off during Feed The Birds. Feed The Birds is the most emotionally devastating melody in the history of cinema. I was not ready for it as a kid. I remember crying and turning it off. I didn’t see the end of Mary Poppins ’til I was like in high school because that song was just too sad. It was just too sad for my tender little heart. So I remember the first two-thirds of it on repeat. And then Feed The Birds would come on and I was like, “Oh, okay, I’m gonna go play.” That was my experience growing up with it.
How did Lin-Manuel Miranda create Jack’s charming accent?
We can hear a bit of Mary Poppins Returns‘ Jack’s charming accent in this clip.
Lin-Manuel Miranda explained the work that went into creating Jack’s unique accent and the impression Dick Van Dyke’s Bert’s accent left on him.
“I realized going in was that no matter what I did my accent would be scrutinized for the rest of my career, if Dick Van Dyke is any indication. But the fun of that is, music is sort of my catalyst for everything. I had an amazing dialect coach named Sandra Butterworth and she became my closest friend and ally on set, whispering in my ear between takes. She realized that music was my way in. So it was not just listening to music sung in the east end Cockney accent, it was music in the 1930’s. Because it’s not just about that part of the world, it’s about the time of the world. It’s about the when as well.“
“I listened to a lot of Anthony Newley, who was a big sort of music hall star who then also wrote a Broadway musical called Stop the World, I Want To Get Off in the 1960s. I listened to a lot of his early stuff and that was my sort of north star for the accent.“
That bike, did Lin-Manuel really name his bike?
Through much of Mary Poppins Returns we see Jack riding a bike in ways you don’t quite expect to see an adult ride a bike. He told us not only is he truly riding that bike in all the scenes you see, but he named it Gertie. Take a look at what he said.
I called it Gertie because she was not your average bike. This is not your Schwinn 10-speed. This is an old bike with a 20 pound ladder in a basket on your right side. So you’re constantly accounting for that. I would bike to craft services. I would bike around. I biked that thing all over Shepperton Studios until it was second nature to me. And then in the sequences where all the kids and Mary Poppins are on the bike, we just had a set of training wheels that we C.G.I.’ed out. So it’s really me driving those kids on that bike. There’s just a certain limit to how far they can tip over thanks to the training wheels.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s final thoughts on inspiring children as Jack in Mary Poppins Returns
“I was inspired by him (his son). We started making Mary Poppins Returns right when my son was turning two. He was just gaining language. For my character, the biggest note Rob Marshall gave me is that all the other grownups forget what it’s like to be a child except for Jack. My biggest research was watching my son play in Princess Di park in Kensington Park in London, watching his boundless imagination.“
“We are all born with that. I think it’s inherent in us until life does what it does. That was my secret weapon in finding Jack was I had a two-year-old research assistant who kept me childlike and kept me in that mode.“
With his genuine nature and gleeful answers to our questions, we couldn’t help but me in awe of Lin-Manuel Miranda and the work he’s doing. This won’t be the last we see of him on the big screen. But for now, go see him in Mary Poppins Returns.
Watch Disney Mary Poppins Returns playing at your local theater starting December 19, 2018!
- Get to know the talent behind Disney Mary Poppins Returns with these Interviews with the cast and producers
- Mary Poppins Returns Emily Blunt (“Mary Poppins”) interview
- Mary Poppins Returns Ben Whishaw (“Michael Banks”) & Emily Mortimer (“Jane Banks”) interview
- Mary Poppins Returns Director Rob Marshall interview
- Mary Poppins Returns Pixie Davies (“Anabel Banks”) & Joel Dawson (“Georgie Banks”) interview
- Mary Poppins Returns Composers Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman interview
- Other Disney Mary Poppins Returns stories
For the latest details on Mary Poppins Returns
- Visit the Mary Poppins Returns website movies.disney.com/mary-poppins-returns
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