All good Disney properties must eventually be remade, it seems, and on Monday news broke that Mary Poppins, the 1964 musical about the world’s most magical nanny, would be returning to the big screen. Director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Into the Woods) is attached to direct, but there’s no word yet on which actress might play Mary.
And that means we can wildly speculate which actresses might be “practically perfect in every way” in the title role.
It’s a tougher gig than you might expect: Mary Poppins is composed, prim, firm in the way she enforces her authority yet always lovable and occasionally whimsical. Yes, Julie Andrews left some very large shoes to fill stylish, sensible shoes, but big ones nonetheless. The fact that Marshall is helming this project makes us think it will likely be a musical, so the new Poppins has to have a decent set of pipes as well.
Here are five actresses we think are fit to carry that magical umbrella.
There would be a certain beauty to Hathaway, who acted alongside Andrews in both of the Princess Diaries films, inheriting the role. It helps that she can sing and she can do a British accent. If casting were based solely on the ability to emulate Julie Andrews, Hathaway would be a shoe-in: She showed off her well-honed imitation of Andrews during her first Saturday Night Live hosting gig in 2008. The sketch offered a wonderfully dark explanation for what “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” means.
That Poppins laugh is perfect.
2. Kristen Bell
As a result of voicing Princess Anna in Frozen, Bell is already part of the Disney family. She can carry a tune, and we’d like to think she’s already Mary Poppins-ing it up at home with her two daughters. In fact, the biggest stretch in imagining Bell in the role would be picturing Mary Poppins as a blond. There, pictured it. It works.
3. Emily Blunt
Blunt may have an edge in this race; she previously worked with Marshall in Into the Woods, and her fans would be happy to see her star in a musical where her character doesn’t suffer the rather sad fate she did in that movie. (Please do not make a version of Mary Poppins where Mary falls off a cliff.) Also in her favor? She comes by that accent naturally. By the time this movie goes into production, Blunt may want a break from the action films that are making up an increasingly large part of her filmography.
Again, Mbatha-Raw wouldn’t have to fake the accent. Were she cast as Mary, it would mean her second role in a Disney remake: She’s already playing a talking feather duster in the live action Beauty and the Beast. And she can sing, too. In fact, she did her own singing when she played a pop star in 2014’s Beyond the Lights.
5. Amy Adams
More recently, Adams has favored dramatic roles, but don’t forget that she showed off her lovely singing voice in Enchanted and The Muppets. And both of those movies suggest she could pull off the level of magic and whimsy we’d want in a Mary Poppins movie. We’ll consider her turn in American Hustle as proof that she can also do a decent British accent.
Which actress do you think would be the best pick as the new Mary Poppins?