The casting breakdown for “magical nanny types” isn’t messing around.
Legendary actress Angela Lansbury has joined the cast of Disney’s upcoming sequel Mary Poppins Returns, playing a character named the Balloon Lady who wreaks helium havoc in the park during one of Mary Poppins’ outing with the Banks children. The character was introduced in Mary Poppins Comes Back, the second book in P.L. Travers’ series (where she was known as the Balloon Woman).
Mary Poppins Returns picks up two decades after the events of the 1964 film and culls from the rest of P.L. Travers’ book series about the mezzo-soprano caregiver, who returns to assist her now-grown former wards as they face crises in their adult lives.
The news of Lansbury’s casting first broke unofficially in December when Dick Van Dyke (who will appear in the film) let slip that the acting icon was among the ensemble members in the forthcoming live-action sequel, which stars Emily Blunt as the practically perfect Mary Poppins, Lin-Manuel Miranda as a fanciful lamplighter named Jack, and Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw as grown-up Jane and Michael Banks. The cast also includes Meryl Streep as Mary’s cousin Topsy, Colin Firth as banker William Wilkins, as well as Julie Walters, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson.
Lansbury is, of course, a treasured member of the Disney family, having lent her voice to Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast and starred in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, two beloved films.
Mary Poppins Returns is directed by Rob Marshall, produced by Marshall, Marc Platt, and John DeLuca, and features a script by David Magee and new music by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. The movie will be released on Dec. 25, 2018.