Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer play the grown Banks children in Mary Poppins Returns. The story centers around Michael Banks and his three children living in their childhood home on Cherry Tree Lane and recently lost his wife. Jane, his sister, is still very involved in Michael’s life and comes over a lot to visit and check on his family. She has followed in the footsteps of her mother and works for an organization called SPRUCE (the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Underpaid Citizens of England) during a time called ‘the Slump.’ We sat down with the screen siblings to chat about their characters in Mary Poppins Returns.
Watch the full interview here.
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Emily Mortimer shares with us that her children fill her life with joy and wonder and help in ‘abating the pain and the fear and the loneliness that is just sort of constantly there.’ Mortimer brought her oldest son Sam to the premiere and planned on bringing her youngest to the one in London. She loves being able to see the hustle and bustle of the red carpet, press junkets, and movie through their eyes because it allows her to step back and appreciate it more.
“We’ve had such a sweet time together these last few days and I just kind of looking over at him, and seeing his little face,” Mortimer said. “It just makes it all seem okay. You know.”
At the time of this interview, neither of her children had seen Mary Poppins Returns yet, but her daughter May found her mothers picture in the novelization of Mary Poppins Returns.
“She’s never been more impressed by me ever,” Mortimer said. “It was so funny. She kept telling everyone we met. Mom’s in a book!”
It’s funny that she was more excited about her mother being in the book than on the big screen.
Rob Marshall said he got his first choice of all the actors. How does it feel for him saying that, and to be in such an iconic sequel of a movie?
“Well… When Rob likes you, he really, really, really, really… does,” Ben Whishaw said. “He doesn’t hold back. You feel his love. You feel his excitement about what you might bring to the table. Having worked with some directors who don’t have that quality, I really value that. In a way that’s everything.”
“My dad always said that if you tell people they’re beautiful or wonderful and clever and talented and special and amazing, they are,” Mortimer said. “You feel like that’s Rob’s strategy.”
They say together. “You do believe him!”
“Why would you not!” Whishaw said.
“He’s so encouraging, and, and makes you feel special and that you have a right to be there,” Mortimer said.
As I mentioned in my review, Karen Dotrice, who played Jane in Mary Poppins as a child, makes a brief cameo in the movie. We wanted to know what it was like for Emily Mortimer to talk with her about this iconic role.
“For the first time, she saw Cherry Tree Lane since she was a little girl,” Mortimer said. “She was really moved, and sort of blown away by the whole thing. Both with her and with Dick Van Dyke, it was just an extraordinary thing to have these connections to the original movie, and it felt so validating that they were excited about it, and into it, and felt thrilled by the whole experience. It was good because it was, obviously it’s a lot of nerves around taking on this thing,” Mortimer said.
What was the most challenging scene for you both to create?
“I think that the final scene when we’re in the air on the balloons was quite challenging,” Whishaw said. “Because that had to be the climactic moment. It’s weirdly much easier sometimes to play misery and grief, but being open-hearted and happy can be quite hard.”
“Especially when you’ve been miserable the whole movie,” Mortimer said. “I remember feeling quite confused by how to be when we walked into the house, and it was all empty of all the furniture, and we were clearing out the stuff, and saying goodbye to the house. The temptation was to, ‘oh my god this is a terrible moment in their lives’ so really make a meal of it. And Rob was really good, and he said, ‘You’ve done your grieving, just say goodbye to your house and try to be [happy]. Because the sadness is going to come from seeing people trying to be happy and do their best and get along with it.’ Which is what most of us spend our lives trying to do, not wallow in the pain,” Mortimer said. Rob said to ‘”keep the ball in the air and keep it optimistic for these children that you’re trying to rally.”
The chemistry between Whishaw and Mortimer is much like siblings. They shared with us that they loved to sit together and talk and giggle and gossip. There was a lot of down time between numbers that they got to hang out. They both agreed that their favorite scene in the movie is the “Trip a Light Light Fantastic” number.
Make sure to see Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer in Mary Poppins Returns in theaters December 19th!
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