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Los Angeles, 29 November 2018
1. Actress Emily Blunt poses for photographers
2. Actor Lin-Manuel Miranda (right) and wife Vanessa Nadal pose for photographers
3. Actor Dick Van Dyke poses for photographers
4. Actor Ben Whishaw poses for photographers
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Emily Blunt, on following Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins:
"She is so iconic and Julie Andrews is so iconic and, so, I feel a bit like Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman on that. You know, it was an instantaneous, 'Yes' for me. I was so excited. But then followed by, you know, what I had to turn into white noise, which was people gasping like, '(Gasps.) You're playing Mary Poppins!'"
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Ben Whishaw, actor - on how this new "Mary Poppins" film is a bit closer to the original P.L. Travers novels than the 1964 original:
"The thing about the books is that they're not sort of narratives. They're sort of episodes. They're little vignettes, little adventures. So, they've taken some of those adventures and then they've woven that into a story that's about, really about Michael and Jane having grown up."
7. Actress Emily Mortimer poses for photographers
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Emily Mortimer, actress - on why Mary Poppins has relevance today:
"Right now, more than ever, if feels that we've lost our way a little bit. And we need to be restored. And that's something what Mary Poppins does for the Banks children -- both as young children and now as grown-up, jaded people, is remind them about the power of the imagination and how you can escape."
IF EARLY RESPONSE TO 'POPPINS' SEQUEL IS INDICATION, ACTRESS EMILY BLUNT WON'T BE IN A QUIET PLACE FOR SOME TIME
When Emily Blunt looks back on 2018, she's likely to say, "It was a very good year."
In spring, her thriller "A Quiet Place" -- co-starring and directed by her husband John Krasinski -- made some big noise with both critics and audiences. With a production budget of under $20 million (USD), it amassed a nearly $350-million worldwide box-office take. All these months later, the film still has a 95-percent positive critical rating at Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of the year's best-reviewed films.
Now Blunt heads "Mary Poppins Returns," the sequel to the 1964 Walt Disney musical classic starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. And while the new film's Oscar buzz isn't quite deafening, after a blast of pre-Thanksgiving screenings for critics and awards-season voters, both Blunt and the movie are beginning to show up on numerous lists of possible Oscar contenders.
Before now, only one of Blunt's films, the 2006 comedy "The Devil Wears Prada," grossed more than $100 million in the United States.
Thursday (29 NOVEMBER 2019) at the "Mary Poppins Returns" world premiere in Los Angeles, Blunt acknowledged she's having a tough time enjoying the ride.
"Terrible, terrible time," she joked, before getting serious: "It's so very hard to digest and absorb what's happened with this year. It's just so overwhelming. It's just hard to compute. You know, this love project that John wrote and I was working with him for the first time and it had this sort of stratospheric life and, then, now it's 'Mary Poppins' and that's so wildly different, and it's just awesome."
Not that either film came easily. While "Quiet Place" was shot on a relative shoestring, "Poppins" is a lavish sequel that has the added pressure of comparisons to a beloved predecessor.
Composer Marc Shaiman commented, "It's exhilarating and the most fearful phone call that we ever got because now. 'Oh my God! We really have to do this.'"
His partner Scott Wittman added, "It's like winning the lottery, and then all the relatives call. You know what I mean? It was that scary," he continued, with a laugh.
Blunt said she put aside thoughts of Andrews' Oscar-winning portrayal of the magical nanny, and decided to come up with a Mary Poppins of her own -- one a little more quirky and eccentric, closer to that in the original eight "Poppins" novels by author P.L. Travers.
"She (the character of Mary Poppins) is so iconic and Julie Andrews is so iconic," Blunt explained, adding there still was a bit of a fear factor in taking the gig. "You know, it was an instantaneous, 'Yes,' for me. I was so excited. But then followed by, you know, what I had to turn into white noise, which was people gasping like, '(Gasps.) You're playing Mary Poppins!'"
Set 20 years after the action in the 1964 film, Blunt's Poppins returns to Cherry Tree Lane to find her charges, the Banks children, have become jaded adults.
Co-star Emily Mortimer, who plays Jane Banks, said that while the film is a period piece, it and Mary Poppins herself have contemporary relevance.
"Right now, more than ever, if feels that we've lost our way a little bit," Mortimer explained. "And we need to be restored. And that's something what Mary Poppins does for the Banks children -- both as young children and now as grown-up, jaded people, Is remind them about the power of the imagination and how you can escape."