'It was my first realization of, "Oh, mothers are going to really want to talk to me after this"'
You never forget your first time on Cherry Tree Lane.
Stepping onto the iconic street, recreated and rejuvenated by director Rob Marshall’s team, was EW’s pinch-me moment on the set of Disney’s forthcoming sequel Mary Poppins Returns — but for the actors and filmmakers who regularly tread those slick springtime cobblestones, other moments during shooting packed the epiphanic punch that, yep, the world of Mary Poppins is back again.
For Lin-Manuel Miranda, who plays Jack the lamplighter, there were a couple of major moments: His first fitting, for one, when he caught a glimpse of Mary Poppins’ famous talking parrot umbrella. Perhaps more memorably, Miranda recalls his first time hearing the film’s new score by veteran songwriting duo Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. The new tunes raised goosebumps for the Broadway composer: “Honestly, hearing Marc and Scott’s songs for the first time was really exciting. It’s such a love letter to [original composers] the Sherman brothers. Marc and Scott really grew up listening to and loving those guys, so it just feels of a piece with the music from the original. That’s the best way to describe it. The orchestrations are massive, and they’ve captured the spirit of it so well. It’s whimsical when it needs to be whimsical with this undercurrent of sadness, but insanely catchy. It’s got that aftertaste of melancholy when it needs it, and it’s really lovely. When I heard it, I got really excited, because this is not some quote-unquote ‘modern’ Poppins. This just is the next movie.”
For Emily Blunt, who plays the title role, one thrilling moment came during one of the movie’s biggest musical numbers, wherein Miranda’s character and a group of lamplighters use the lights of London to guide the lost Banks children back to their neighborhood. “I actually had one of these big pinch-me moments when I saw about 30 people coming down Cherry Tree Lane,” Blunt recalls. “We had a camera on a crane and another camera on a truck and it was just one of those very classic, cinematic, men-dancing-like-men, incredible, beautifully lit moments, and I just turned to Rob and said, ‘My God, we’re really making a big old movie, aren’t we?’”
Blunt had another major moment of realization — this time, off set. (Pertinent info: Blunt has two daughters, ages 3 and almost 1). “I hadn’t really thought much about the broad scope of things, but I was with my daughter Hazel in a playground the other day and had my baby strapped to me, and these four mothers came up and were like, ‘Oh my God, Mary Poppins! On the playground!’” Blunt says, laughing. “It was my first realization of, ‘Oh, mothers are going to really want to talk to me after this.’ This woman said, ‘You’re going to be inundated with moms,’ and I immediately said back, ‘There are worse people to be inundated by!’ Which is so true.”