Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw Overcome Their Fears In Mary Poppins Returns

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Jane (Emily Mortimer), Michael (Ben Whishaw), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) greet Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) upon her return to the Banks’ home in Disney’s original musical MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family..

Michael and Jane Banks are back in Mary Poppins Returns, but they are adults brought to life by Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer.  They play key roles in the new Disney sequel that opens in theaters on December 19, and both are extremely excited to see the audience’s reaction to this film.

The two-month long rehearsals (which is rare) allowed them to get to know each other (and gossip!), which made their on-camera relationship seem so real.

Photo: Jana Seitzer

Both Ben and Emily agree that director Rob Marshall is like no other director.  “You feel his love.  You feel his excitement about what you might bring to the table,” says Ben Whishaw, who tends to be quieter and shyer than his co-star.

For Emily Mortimer, that can be key in how everybody gives their all to ensure the movie is the best it can be. “He’s so encouraging, and makes you feel special,” she explains. It also reminds her of how her own father approached life. “My dad always said that if you tell people they’re beautiful or wonderful and clever and talented and special and amazing, they are.”

In that sense, director Rob Marshall succeeded in getting an incredibly heartfelt performance from Ben Whishaw, who had never sung before. The attic scene, called A Conversation in the Mary Poppins Returns soundtrack, made me search for the tissues when I saw the movie.

Overcoming fears and challenges on the set of Mary Poppins Returns

Of course there were challenges on the set of Mary Poppins Returns, especially when filming the last scene, which I won’t spoil for you. “It’s weirdly much easier sometimes to play misery,” says Ben Whishaw, who spends most of the movie suffering through the blows life delivers him, but manages to find joy and wonder again.

For Emily Mortimer, that final scene made her face her fear of heights… and singing. Leave it to director Rob Marshall to convince her she could overcome both. At a screening in Los Angeles, she admitted still couldn’t believe she managed to sing while suspended on a crane.

It was all worth it. When you see There’s Nowhere To Go But Up, you’ll see why.

Special thanks to Disney for inviting me to cover the world premiere of Mary Poppins Returns. 

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