Producer John DeLuca Talks Mary Poppins Returns, Emily Blunt, And Meryl Streep

Credit: Disney

The return of Mary Poppins is finally upon us and why we cannot wait to finally find the time to watch the sequel ourselves, cast and crew cannot wait for us to watch it either.

Besides the fact that our favorite nanny will return to theaters, which alone is a reason to watch the movie, the cast is yet another. The movie is packed with great actresses and actors, who are led by Emily Blunt, who will be playing Mary.

Another amazing actress is Meryl Streep, who will be playing Mary’s cousin Topsy in the upcoming movie, which does not only have fans excited to see the actress sing and dance in another movie. The producers were thrilled as well, when Streep sent them an email announcing that she’d be in, which producer John DeLuca talked about in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

“I’ll never forget Meryl Streep’s email after we asked her,” DeLuca reveals. “It was an email that said, ‘Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. This is what we need at this time. I need to be a part of a project like this that is going to give hope, and as Mary Poppins comes out of that sky, to know that there is, behind those clouds, something that can get us through this.'”

It is quite obvious what Streep means with “at this time” – the Trump era. The actress, however, was not the only one who thought that way and as it turns out, so did the producers DeLuca and Rob Marshall, who teamed up again after they have already worked on Into the Woods together.

“We felt we had to find the ray of hope in this rather bleak, dark time,” DeLuca explains. “Even though Rob and I were living in London at the time, we felt it when the election happened. It reverberated around the world.”

Though, the sequel isn’t set in a happier time, as it is set in London during the 1930s, so roughly 30 years later compared to the time setting in Mary Poppins. The jump in time was deliberately done by the producers to create their own story while still paying homage to the original.

“We plowed forward in trying to, again as I said, pay homage, but still make a step in the future and have our own story to tell,” DeLuca says. “And then we decided to change the time period. The original was set back in a more happy time, which is what Walt did. And what we did, we went to the time that the books were written.”

While they already had a reason why they wanted to make the movie, there was another reason why the duo was eager to produce a sequel: Emily Blunt.

It turns out that there was no one else they wanted to play the titular role, especially after having worked with Blunt on Into the Woods:

“It was a no-brainer — he said, ‘There’s no one else,'” DeLuca says. “That’s another reason why we did it. There was both, not only Rob, the right director, but then there was the right actress — someone who was an actor through singing and could move and dance and have this joy but yet have that stern, British, no-nonsense, rather vain exterior.”

Though, the production of the movie was “a constant, working machine that is very, very closely scheduled and followed through,” it was also magical and DeLuca remembers a moment on set that left Rob Marshall, who has been a fan of Dick Van Dyke for a long time, speechless:

“He couldn’t even call ‘cut’ after he did this beautiful, emotional monologue,” DeLuca says. “The tears were streaming down his face. He just couldn’t say it. So, I just kind of butt in, and I cut it, cut the scene. It was so beautiful that he wasn’t able to speak.”

I, for one, cannot wait to see that scene for myself and generally just watch the movie and to witness the same movie magic that engulfs me every time I re-watch Mary Poppins.

Thankfully, Mary Poppins Returns is out now and proves that there’s still hope left in the world even during the darkest of times.

“There’s room for that, I think, now, and room for a pure hopefulness,” DeLuca adds. “I think that’s why people are responding. I think that it is time for this.”

Anna Hattingen

25 year old college student with a passion for Netflix & Chill and exploring the world (but not at the same time), currently based in London and enjoying life.
Anna Hattingen