Lin-Manuel Miranda isn’t playing Dick Van Dyke’s character in “Mary Poppins Returns.” But according to the “Hamilton” creator, who goes into production on “Poppins” early next year, he performs a similar role as the one Van Dyke’s Bert played in the original.
“It’s straight up a sequel,” he said in an interview conducted for the cover story in Variety‘s 2016 Gotham Issue. “Michael and Jane Banks have grown up, and they find themselves in their own spot, and Mary Poppins comes back to take care of Michael’s kids. I play a lamplighter named Jack who sort of grew up apprenticing to Bert. So I know if Mary Poppins shows up, it’s gonna get awesome. I perform that function in the movie, of saying: ‘Y’all don’t know about Mary Poppins. When Mary’s around, cool sh– happens.’ “
He hasn’t gotten any advice from Van Dyke — at least not yet. “I haven’t met Dick Van Dyke. I’d love to meet him. I cried like everyone else did when he showed up on ‘The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60’ and started stepping in time. Just horizontal tears out of my face.”
He continued, “I showed my son the film, and my son is not even 2 years old. When the music started my son went — ” Miranda’s face lit up and he let out gasp of wonder. “Which I’ve never seen him do. He just sat rapt. For someone who’s 20 months old, that doesn’t happen. I’m really excited I get to be part of that legacy. That movie is everyone’s childhood. Mine too. Although I never got through ‘Tuppence’ [the song ‘Feed the Birds’], because that lady made me so sad that I would burst into tears. It took me a long time to actually see the end of the movie.”
Disney has doubled down on Miranda, with his role in the “Poppins” sequel just one gig with the studio alongside his co-songwriting credit on upcoming animated film “Moana” and then a team-up with Alan Menken on the songs for a live-action redo of “The Little Mermaid.”
“My God, those Disney musicals,” he said. “I feel really lucky that I was a kid when they went on that run of animated musicals, starting with ‘The Little Mermaid.’ Not just animated movies, animated musicals. Howard Ashman [the late writer-lyricist of ‘Mermaid,’ ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Aladdin’] figured out, ‘Oh my God, I can make even better musicals under this system than I can Off Broadway.’ I have never been more transported in my life than when ‘Under the Sea’ first started when I was nine years old. I said, ‘I cannot believe what is happening to me,’ and that feeling of vertigo in a movie theater. Something I’ve been chasing ever since. To be part of that legacy, and then ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Lion King,’ it was just this incredible run that happened when I was ages 9 to 14. It’s very formative to me. I’m thrilled to be a part of that tradition.”