After a string of increasingly dark roles including Edge of Tomorrow (2014), Sicario (2015), and Oct. 7’s hotly anticipated The Girl on the Train, Emily Blunt is ready to lighten up. “I enjoy the challenge to be versatile… [but] I want to find the silliness again,” she tells EW.
And her next major role will be a big departure from The Girl on the Train: She’s stepping into Julie Andrews’ iconic shoes as Mary Poppins in Rob Marshall’s Mary Poppins Returns, currently slated for a December 2018 release. “I feel a little more trepidation with this [character] because she’s so emblematic of people’s nostalgia,” Blunt says. “It’s such an important character in people’s childhood.”
While Andrews’ version of the magical nanny was sweet but firm, Blunt says her Mary Poppins will be slightly different — closer to the character from P.L. Travers’ original series. “We’re delving into the books a lot more,” she explains, “which is a different version of the character, I’ll say that much.” When she’s reminded that book Poppins is slightly tougher than fans of the 1964 film might expect, Blunt gives a coy smile: “She’s a little meaner, yeah.”
Blunt hadn’t yet spoken to Andrews when she sat down with EW in early August, but Mary Poppins Returns director Rob Marshall had — and he relayed the experience to her. “Rob said he was in the Hamptons, and he saw [Andrews], and he said, ‘It’s top secret, but Emily Blunt’s playing Mary Poppins,'” Blunt recalls. “And she went, ‘Oh, wonderful!'”
“I felt like I wanted to cry,” she says. “It was lovely to get her stamp of approval. That took the edge off it, for sure.”
For more on Emily Blunt and The Girl on the Train, pick up this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands now, or subscribe online at ew.com/allaccess.