'Mary Poppins' sequel has perfect casting, Sandy Kenyon says

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Sandy Kenyon reviews the new movie 'Mary Poppins Returns'

The secret to making a good movie is starting with a great cast, and the star who plays the title role in "Mary Poppins Returns," Emily Blunt, is ideal.

In the sequel, the two children from the original movie are all grown up and trying to cope with adult challenges when their nanny returns to help them once again.

Mary Poppins is described as "practically perfect," and the original movie lived up to that description. So the follow-up film required ideal casting, "because she's so appallingly rude," Blunt said recently, adding the iconic character is also, "vain and stylish, and yet of great depth."

Her portrayal is more tart and less sweet than the character, played by Julie Andrews in a 1964 movie that loomed large over this one.

Director Rob Marshall said he "really wanted to stay true to that film, but also create a new path for this film, a new story line, an original musical."

Blunt was the first person he approached to be in his cast, and Lin Manuel Miranda was the second performer approached.

At the time, Miranda was still on Broadway in "Hamilton," and he recalled that he and Marshall talked between a matinee and evening performance of the hit show.

"And he sort of gave the whole pitch, and he said the only people we've talked to are Emily and you," Miranda said. "That meant the world to me. You know, you've known me since 'In the Heights.'"

Miranda said that first Broadway show was the launching point of his career that led to this moment.

"(It) was my way of writing my way into this world," he said. "Writing my own opportunity, and to have a part written for me, from people at the top of their field, feels like the fruit of the harvest from back then."

So did he feel ready to carry so much weight as a star of the film? Was he nervous?

"Emily gave me the best advice at the beginning, and it goes back to director Rob Marshall," he said. "It's very easy to get in your head when there's so much going on and it's such a big set. And Emily said, 'Rob is not going to move on to the next scene until he has what he needs.' And that took away 95 percent of my anxiety."

One of the messages of Mary Poppins is that "everything is possible, even the impossible." And the cast and crew proves that true.

"Mary Poppins Returns" is from Walt Disney Pictures, owned by the same parent company as WABC-TV.

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