We all know the 1934 story by P.L. Travers: An English nanny named Mary Poppins magically descends on a London family and uses kindness, discipline, and an odd sense of adventure to change the lives of the Banks family forever. Thirty years after Mary Poppins was first published, the fictional icon came to life on the big screen, and in Technicolor, with the help of Walt Disney, Julie Andrews, and Dick Van Dyke. Now, Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Van Dyke (!) are back to reprise the beloved roles in the sequel Mary Poppins Returns.
When the first teaser for the film's second act premiered during the Academy Awards in March, longtime fans of the fantastical story were immediately curious and, admittedly, concerned about whether or not this would exceed the high marks of the original — could it do Andrews and Van Dyke's version justice? Turns out it does, but, surprisingly, not because it tried to replicate what'd already been done. Blunt recently told Refinery29 that she didn't want to one-up the story's legacy but create her own version of Poppins while still paying homage to Andrews' award-winning role.
Modernising a classic character is no easy feat, which is exactly why the producers locked down Hollywood hair and makeup veteran Peter King to design a Poppins fit for Blunt. And when we asked if he secretly did watch the '64 version ahead of shooting (or least print out some photos for inspiration) he firmly replied, "Not at all."
With nothing but a distant childhood memory in his mind, King set out — collaborating with costume designer Sandy Powell, director Rob Marshall, and the stars of the film — to make sure the newest Poppins is just as memorable as the last. So, we asked him to tell us everything: How Blunt's Poppins resembles the original, why Meryl Streep's hair is cut into a trendy orange bob, and exactly how Van Dyke felt about playing one very familiar character. His answers, ahead.