Emily Blunt has said Julie Andrews does not make an appearance in Mary Poppins Returns because the veteran star did not want to steal attention from her.
The Devil Wears Prada actress takes over the role of the practically perfect nanny from Andrews in the sequel, 54 years after the original and while Dick Van Dyke does make a cameo in the film, Andrews chose not to participate.
Arriving at the film’s European premiere at the Royal Albert Hall, Blunt told the Press Association: “I really understand why she didn’t and it means a lot to me that she chose to not do it in the way that she did.
“She said she just didn’t want it to be her show, she wanted it to be my show, and I thought it was so gracious and so sweet and I understand that need to preserve and treasure that iconic image we all have of her, I really get that.”
But Blunt said she understands Andrews has seen the film, adding: “I haven’t spoken to Julie yet but I hope to speak to her because I think she’s just seen it and she wrote Rob Marshall (the director) the most beautiful email about it and loved it so that meant a lot to all of us.”
Blunt also said she had to overcome her nerves to take on the role, which has landed her Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.
She said: “I was initially a bit intimidated because it’s such iconic territory to walk through but I think more than anything I just adored playing her so much.
“I think she’s such an extraordinary character so I just tried to approach her as I would any other role really.”
She also had to work on delivering Poppins’ precise way of speaking, saying: “I wanted something quite true to the time period of the ’30s and fast paced and clipped and she should sound practically perfect so she’s got to sound posher than me, she’s even posher than my mum, really posh!”
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda also stars in the film as lamplighter Jack, an apprentice to Dick Van Dyke’s original character Bert.
Miranda said far from being intimidated, he jumped on the chance to work with his hero.
He said: “I didn’t think of it as pressure at all, on the contrary I thought I am going to get to be in a movie with Dick Van Dyke, who has more energy at 92, I just found out he turns 93 tomorrow, than I will ever have in my life.
“I just want a little of whatever he’s drinking. I just think he’s human caffeine.”
Miranda added that his own rapping in the film pays homage to Van Dyke’s performance in the 1964 film.
He said: “I’m just taking a page from my friend Dick Van Dyke, who raps in that first Mary Poppins movie.
“You’ve all forgotten but he’s got bars on bars about all the women he knows besides Mary Poppins just to make her jealous, it’s so gangster.”
Mary Poppins Returns is released in UK cinemas on December 21.