Rob Marshall Interview: ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ director
For Rob Marshall, the road to “Mary Poppins Returns” began in 1964 when the original Disney classic was released. “It was the first film I saw as a child,” he explains. “It introduced me to this world of film in an incredible way.” Despite revisiting it several times, “I never quite imagined that it would fall in my lap as a sequel 54 years later.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Marshall above.
In this long-awaited followup, the title nanny (Emily Blunt) is back to help the Banks brood — the now grownup children Michael and Jane, along with Michael’s three kids — through a time of hardship and teach them some valuable life lessons with the help of a little magic and some new catchy songs.
Given his attachment to the material, Marshall was “daunted by the idea” of “following in those great footsteps.” But at the same time “I did feel that if anybody was to do it, I wanted to be that person because I feel it’s in my blood. Musical filmmaking is in my blood, but I also feel that the film ‘Mary Poppins’ is so deep inside me too. I wanted to be able to approach this film with a great deal of respect for that first film, and care and love.”
At the same time the man who brought “Chicago” (2002), “Nine” (2009) and “Into the Woods” (2014) from the stage to the screen was excited for the opportunity to “do something I’d never done before, which is create an original musical from the very beginning.” And he did just that with screenwriter David Magee, composers/songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, and his professional and life partner John DeLuca.
Marshall previously earned an Oscar nomination for directing “Chicago,” which also brought him a DGA victory and bids at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs. For his work on the small screen, he won three Emmys for “Tony Bennett: An American Classic” (Best Variety Special, Best Variety Special Directing, Best Choreography in 2007) and one for “Annie” (Best Choreography in 2000).
The original “Mary Poppins” was a big hit at the Oscars, contending in 13 categories including Best Picture and Best Director for Robert Stevenson. It won five of those bids, including Best Actress for Julie Andrews. Will the sequel recapture that awards magic? “Mary Poppins Returns” arrives in theaters on December 19.