When Mary Poppins Returns hits the silver screen December 19, audiences familiar with the original Mary Poppins will be thrilled to recognize a few familiar faces—aside from the title character.
Admiral Boom and Binnacle, the eccentric neighboring former Navyman and his sidekick, are back; Ellen the housekeeper is still dashing around overwhelmed; Willoughby’s owner Miss Lark can still be found walking her pup on Cherry Tree Lane as if no time has passed. But it’s Jane and Michael Banks, played by Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw (The Crucible) who prove that it’s been 24 years since Mary Poppins first flew into their lives.
As the only returning characters who seem to have aged, Mortimer and Whishaw drew from the original 1964 film—but not from the actors you might think. “We were both really taken by the performances of the adults, their parents, in the original movie by David Tomlinson [George Banks] and Glynis Johns [Winnifred Banks] and how eccentric and odd and perfect those guys are and what it would be like to be their grownup children was something that was a useful way in," Mortimer says.
Though a frequent stage performer, Whishaw is best known for his film and TV work, including the Bond films and this year's A Very English Scandal, while Mortimer is known for her screen roles in shows like The Newsroom and movies like Bright Young Things. “Obviously, it’s a much lighter world than most of the things we’ve been doing of late, but we were responsible in grounding this that was something more domestic, more relatable,” says Whishaw.
“You can’t approach it any different from anything else you ever do,” Mortimer adds. “You have to find the reality in the moment and I think Emily [Blunt] and Lin[-Manuel Miranda] would say the same thing. It’s a serious business even when you’re creating something so magical and whimsical you have to commit to the moment and find the reality in it.” Watch their full video interview above and hear more from the cast and creative team on the making of Mary Poppins Returns below!