‘Mary Poppins’: Why Emily Blunt is Right for the Sequel
Considering Disney’s acquisition of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm in the last decade, one might think that the Mouse House would scale back on developing projects based on its classic archives. Think again. While we’re still waiting for the inevitable Disney Infinity film (please?), Disney is continuing to revisit older films with either live-action adaptations of beloved animated releases or — in this particular case — a sequel to a decades-old musical that generations hold dear. That’s right, folks. A Mary Poppins sequel has been in the works for some time. Thankfully, the project made a smart move in securing Emily Blunt to slip into the iconic role first played onscreen by Julie Andrews.
Ever since her breakthrough role opposite Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada a decade ago, Blunt has amassed an impressive career that has demonstrated her skill onscreen regardless of genre. The actress has earned critical praise for her work in everything from period dramas like The Young Victoria to tougher roles in action films like Edge of Tomorrow and last year’s Sicario. In the meantime, Blunt has established herself as a leading lady with an built-in fanbase and talent to spare. But is that enough for Blunt to take over such an unforgettable character as Mary Poppins, one that hasn’t been played on the big screen since Andrews’s Oscar-winning performance way back in 1964?
In addition to the fact that her natural English accent is the perfect fit for Poppins, Blunt possesses a certain classic beauty that makes her almost reminiscent of Andrews’s version. It doesn’t feel like much of a stretch to imagine Blunt dressed up in Poppins’s trademark hat and coat, umbrella in one hand and carpetbag in the other. Moreover (and most importantly), Blunt has proven that she is a gifted singer as well.
The actress earned critical acclaim as the Baker’s Wife in Disney’s own Into the Woods — based on the Stephen Sondheim stage musical — and, as such, has already delved into the world of fairy tales and supernatural family musicals. Sondheim’s work is known for being notoriously difficult to sing, with their complicated phrasing and flow. However, Blunt nailed it throughout that film as one of the main leads and effectively served as a standout among a cast of actors with more singing experience, such as Streep and Pitch Perfect alum Anna Kendrick. With that being said (and reports that Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda will co-star and help craft the music for the new film), Blunt has proven herself capable of effortlessly taking on the role of Poppins without missing a beat.
Sure, Disney’s Mary Poppins doesn’t really need a sequel, but in the age of reboots, sequels and constant revisits to nostalgic properties, development on a follow-up to that classic story is probably inevitable, especially given Disney’s recent proclivity to doing just that. In that context, Blunt could be the very best choice for the role. She has enough onscreen charisma to lure in audiences as well as more than enough acting and singing talent to make the role her own. If she decides to channel Andrews too closely, there’s the off chance that Blunt’s performance could have an adverse effect. However, if the script gives her enough juicy material to work with, Blunt could transform this Poppins sequel from a blatant cash-grab into a chance to reinvigorate a franchise that could have used more adventures much sooner.
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