Playing a character called Balloon Lady, she is part of a cast that already includes Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, Dick Van Dyke, Lin-Manuel Mirand, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, and Colin Firth. Disney also confirmed the release date, Christmas Day 2018. Rob Marshall is directing the film.
Bye Bye Birdie Tony winner Van Dyke, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for creating the role of chimney sweep Bert opposite Oscar winner Julie Andrews in the 1964 film Mary Poppins, will appear in the sequel.
In a December Hollywood Reporter feature about artists in their 90s, veteran actor Van Dyke mentioned Lansbury’s participation in passing, saying, “[The sequel] supposedly takes place 20 years later and the kids are all grown up…It's a great cast—Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury and that guy [Lin-Manuel Miranda] from Hamilton.”
Lansbury won her Tony Awards for her performances in Mame (1966), Dear World (1969), Gypsy (1975), Sweeney Todd (1979), and Blithe Spirit (2009). Now 91, the actor was nominated for the Oscar twice, beginning with Gaslight in 1944, and nominated for Emmy Awards 18 times, many for her performance in the series Murder, She Wrote.
Lansbury has a long history with Disney as well, having starred in Bedknobs and Broomsticks and voiced Mrs. Potts in the animated musical Beauty and the Beast.
The screenplay is by David Magee (Life of Pi) based on the Mary Poppins stories by PL Travers, with Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) writing all new songs. Filming has already begun at Shepperton Studios in the U.K. Producers are Marshall, John DeLuca, and Marc Platt.
About the original Mary Poppins film, Van Dyke said, “There was a spirit about that thing from the very beginning…Walt [Disney] had me in, and I heard the score and saw the scenes storyboarded on a wall, and I just knew.”
According to Disney, “the film is set in 1930s Depression-era London (the time period of the original novels) and is drawn from the wealth of material in PL Travers’ additional seven books. In the story, Michael (Whishaw) and Jane (Mortimer) are now grown up, with Michael, his three children and their housekeeper, Ellen (Walters), living on Cherry Tree Lane. After Michael suffers a personal loss, the enigmatic nanny Mary Poppins (Blunt) re-enters the lives of the Banks family, and, along with the optimistic street lamplighter Jack (Miranda), uses her unique magical skills to help the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives. Mary Poppins also introduces the children to a new assortment of colorful and whimsical characters, including her eccentric cousin, Topsy (Streep).”
Van Dyke discussed the Mary Poppins sequel in an interview with Entertainment Tonight: