There are a lot of things for Lin-Manuel Miranda to consider as production gets underway on the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns. For one, there’s the pressure of living up to the beloved 1964 musical starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. There’s also all the dancing and singing rehearsals that go into mounting a major live-action Disney musical. And of course, Miranda has to perfect his English accent, as he’s playing a 1930s London lamplighter and starring opposite a native Brit, Emily Blunt.
Luckily for Miranda, however, he’s got an advantage: Meryl Streep.
Streep is also appearing in the upcoming sequel as Mary Poppins’ cousin, Topsy, and in a recent interview with The New York Times, Miranda revealed that he’d consulted his Oscar-winning costar about her own favorite accent.
“I asked Meryl Streep, who’s in the film, what her favorite British accent is,” Miranda explained. “She said [Margaret] Thatcher. Thatcher was a self-created persona. [Thatcher] took elocution lessons, and made up her own accent. … I did it with full humility, knowing my best accent wouldn’t touch [Streep’s] work.”
Van Dyke has famously been mocked for his own so-so Cockney accent in the original film, and Miranda said he’s been studying up to make sure his own accent sounds as accurate as possible.
“I’m watching British stand-up comedy — East End guys — and I’m also listening to a lot of music, like Billy Bragg,” Miranda said. “The East End accent now is very different from in the ‘30s. You’ll see that mistake on both sides a lot. I’ve seen British productions of American shows and it’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s a New York accent, but I’m not sure what decade.”
Mary Poppins Returns takes place several decades after the original, following the now-grown-up Banks children (Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer) in 1930s London. The cast also includes Colin Firth and Julie Walters, and Van Dyke is also set to make a cameo appearance. It’ll hit theaters on Dec. 25, 2018.