So much enthusiasm has to be allowed: Emily Blunt enchants everyone.
Not only because the actress, who was born and raised in London, is getting a lot of magic and wonder out of her unfathomable handbag in “Mary Poppins’ Returns” (theatrical release: December 20th). Not only because she has the guts to reinterpret one of the most iconic characters in cinema history with chutzpah, without revealing the original. Not only because it makes even weak films (“Girl On the Train”, “The Wolfman”) bearable. Not to mention the good ones (“The Devil Wears Prada”, “A Quiet Place”, “Sicario”). No, the 35-year-old has the rare gift of listening to the people sitting across from her and taking them seriously with humor. The fact that the mother of two, who is married to director and actor John Krasinski, is still full of energy at the end of an interview marathon is also quite magical.
teleschau: Her colleague said earlier that she thinks Mary Poppins is pretty sexy …
Emily Blunt: Who was that? Emily Mortimer (plays the role of Jane in the film, the editor)? She has a pretty loose mouth. (laughs) The fact is: Mary Poppins is pretty vain, and of course she looks very chic too. And she admires herself in every reflective surface – which I quite enjoyed.
teleschau: How else was it for you to take on such a great legacy after 54 years?
Blunt: It’s a pretty complex question because it touches so many emotional layers. Believe me, everyone who worked on this film was aware of the legacy. The bar was so incredibly high. The fact that “Mary Poppins” is still so firmly anchored in the minds of so many people speaks volumes … The music is crucial for this. Even people who have never seen the original film know the songs as if they had invaded every childhood in a kind of osmosis.
teleschau: And yet did you agree to it?
Blunt: We all knew what was coming, and I knew I was following in pretty big footsteps. I don’t want to deny that I had doubts – but on the other hand, I love the challenge. A little fear drives me to perform better. “Mary Poppins” intimidated me more than anything I’ve done before.
teleschau: How did that affect your work?
Blunt: No. On the contrary: Precisely because of this, I approached the role in the same way as everyone else. I had to: After all, everyone I told about it got gasping, so that I kept asking myself: “What the hell are you getting yourself into?” The fact that I fell in love with my role pretty much kept all my fears in check.
teleschau: What is your relationship with the original?
Blunt: I loved this movie as a kid. Of course, who doesn’t? In concrete terms, however, I only had a few individual scenes and songs, “Is that a wonderful day” for example, or the scenes in the bank that scared me as a child. What I remembered well, though, was that there was something comforting about Mary Poppins: she was a figure of authority who straightened things out and brought order to chaos. I felt safe with her and I think all children felt the same way.
teleschau: Do you think that is still the case today?
Blunt: I believe that children just love to immerse themselves in all the fantasies because Mary Poppins turns everyday situations into magical experiences. Bathing or tidying up – with her it will be a trip to a wonderland. And: With her, children lose their fear of difficult issues, such as the loss of a loved one. Because the sequel takes place in the time of the Great Depression, Mary Poppins is also relevant today: Back then, it was a time of uncertainty that we are experiencing again today. I think we all long for a Mary Poppins who just makes it all right.
teleschau: What do you like most about Mary Poppins?
Blunt: That it teaches people to be impartial: Life should always be about accepting others. If we don’t judge, other perspectives automatically open up to us. Mary Poppins is not a superhero, she is simply a person who brings out the best in others.
teleschau: And that shows the men what an umbrella is?
Blunt: What I particularly like about Mary Poppins – and that was very modern in the 1930s when PL Travers wrote the books: she doesn’t need a husband, she is self-employed and knows how important that is. She is a woman who gets things done without being dependent on anyone.
teleschau: Such things are easy to teach your own children: Have you shown the films to your daughters?
Blunt: The little one is still much too young. But my older daughter loves the original film, we kept watching it after we finished filming. Hazel has become a real hardcore fan of Julie Andrews. But then I had to tell her a little jealous: “You already know that there is another Mary Poppins movie and your mom is playing the lead role?”
teleschau: Does that mean you didn’t even see the original before filming?
Blunt: Exactly. I waited until all of my recordings were in the can. It was very important to me that I could implement my own ideas. I didn’t want to compromise. Also, nobody in the world would want to see a bad copy of Julie Andrews.
teleschau: Julie Andrews is now 83 years old. Have you spoken to her yet?
Blunt: Unfortunately not yet, but I would really like to. She wrote a very gracious email to Rob Marshall (director, editor) the other day after seeing the new movie.