It’s rare for an actor to still be working at the age of 91. It’s rarer still for them to perform a starring role in the sequel to the film that made them famous more than half a century earlier, but that’s precisely what Dick Van Dyke will be doing in the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns.
The man who played chirpy chimney sweep Burt in Disney’s 1964 hit will be alongside Emily Blunt, who is stepping into Julie Andrews‘ giant shoes, Meryl Streep and Angela Lansbury.
And Van Dyke has sound reasoning for not packing it all in just yet. Speaking to Hollywood Reporter, he said: “I think it’s the worst thing you can do. Certain people who do retire suddenly age. I think you have to stay active.”
Chicago director Rob Marshall will be in the chair. Evidently ecstatic to land the job, he said: “The iconic original film means so much to me personally, and I look forward to creating an original movie musical that can bring Mary Poppins, and her message that childlike wonder can be found in even the most challenging of times, to a whole new generation.”
Amusingly enough, one thing that the original is famous for is Van Dyke’s less-than-convincing Cockney accent, but it turns out that he was blissfully unaware of his shortcomings. Reflecting back on this, he said: “Nearly everyone in the Mary Poppins cast was a Brit but no one said anything,” he explained in a recent interview with The Guardian. I was given an Irish coach whose Cockney was much better than mine. Years later I asked Julie [Andrews]: “Why didn’t you tell me?” She said it was because I was working so hard.”
Mary Poppins Returns is scheduled for release in 2018, fittingly enough on Christmas Day. If it can come anywhere close to emulating its illustrious predecessor, which bagged a total of five Oscars, we’re in for a special gift. To get yourself in the mood, tune into Saving Mr Banks this week.