Awards season is officially underway and "Mary Poppins Returns" has lots to be excited about early on with four Golden Globe nominations.
The magical Disney sequel was nominated in the following categories: Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, Best Original Score in a motion picture, Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy and Best Actor in a Film Comedy or Musical.
The two top-billed stars of the film Emily Blunt and Lin Manuel Miranda both received nominations for best actress and actor respectively.
Blunt steps into the magical nanny's shoes and Miranda co-stars as Jack, an optimistic lamplighter who accompanies Mary Poppins and the Banks children on a magical and musical adventure.
Miranda took to Twitter immediately following the early announcement with the caption "Woke up to my phone leaping off the bedside table. Grateful for the nom, grateful to the Golden Globes, grateful to all of you."
He also included a screenshot from his phone showing a series of congratulatory texts from friends, his manager and the movie's songwriter Marc Shaiman.
Not surprisingly the award-winning Broadway composer, handpicked by director Rob Marshall, also received a nod for Best Original Score in a motion picture.
Blunt, too, seemed thrilled to learn the news.
"Thank you ever so much to the HFPA! I’m blown away and over the moon," she said in a statement.
"I delighted in playing every aspect of this extraordinary and iconic character," she continued. "The entire experience working on it was spellbinding and that’s largely to do with the incomparable Rob Marshall who took on this project with great love, depth and courage in his heart. I’m thrilled for Lin and for the recognition for our beautiful score as well as the film as a whole. Thank you again.”
Miranda was a big fan of the 1964 film and the music when he was growing up. "Those songs have a hold on us. And then the incredible performances, from those incredible children to Julie Andrew and Dick Van Dyke...it's just across the board wonderful."
Marshall said creating "an original musical" was "sort of overwhelming at the first."
"Because I thought, 'Well, here we are. We're writing an original musical for film,' which I'd never done before," Marshall said.
When Marshall was searching for songwriters for "Mary Poppins Returns,” he handpicked two of the biggest "Mary Poppins" fans around, award-winning songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
The pair’s clever and exuberant music powered the hit Broadway musical “Hairspray,” which they followed up with musicals “Catch me if you Can” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.
“I honestly didn't know what I was gonna do if we didn't get [the job]. How do I live the rest of my life if we don't get this movie?” Shaiman said jokingly. “And am I gonna move to a hut on a desert island?”
Wittman said the moment they were told they’d write for the film was “fantastic,” quipping: “But then you have to write it.”
Indeed, the pressure was on.
“You can imagine for us, sitting down to write a new 'Mary Poppins' movie and thinking, like, 'How do we possibly try to compare?'” Shaiman said. “Eventually, you have to stop thinking about that or the fear will incapacitate you.”
Shaiman composed the score and the songs in the film and co-wrote the lyrics with Wittman. They spent months working out musical ideas with the performers, custom-fitting their songs to the actors’ strengths.
“It was like getting the best musical-tailored suit possible,” Miranda said.
“Normally, you really are flying by the seat of your pants when you do a film and there’s no time to prep,” said Blunt, who was filming the blockbuster “Girl on the Train” while working on “Mary Poppins Returns.”
“She would come to us with ragged hair, having played a depressed alcoholic all day,” Shaiman said, “and then she'd be like, 'All right, I gotta be Mary Poppins!'”
In the new movie, Miranda had the honor of singing the movie’s opening number.
“Lin's character welcomes us into the movie and into the time and place,” Shaiman said. “He sings a very, you know, a sweet, gentle melody to welcome you into London.”
“I think we had maybe about 10 different numbers that we tried, because here we are launching into a sequel after 54 years,” Marshall said. “So we really wanted to make sure we started on the right foot.”
In the sequel, Blunt and Miranda also strapped on their dancing shoes.
“Dancing was a new undertaking,” Blunt said. “I think Rob [Marshall] assumed that I could dance. But obviously, he'd never seen my dance, you know. So I think it was a bit of a risk he was taking, you know. But we really drilled those dances.”
Rob Marshall said he knew she would be a good dancer. He said, “I knew that Emily-- has style. I knew that she could sing. I knew she was musical, so I was not surprised that she could dance.”
Miranda said it was trial by fire when it came to the dancing.
“[They said] 'Here’s your hat. Here is your cane. You’re gonna be good at these things,'" Miranda said.
He joked that it was “just after we wrapped” that he was comfortable with the numbers.
Audiences will get their chance to see those dances and hear the songs of “Mary Poppins Returns” on Dec. 19.
Shaiman called the movie, “Our love letter to the original film, the original filmmakers.”
“It’s all in there,” he said. “I think the audiences can rest assured that when they go see ‘Mary Poppins Returns,’ that they're not gonna get cheated out of anything they may wanna hear or wanna see. And then they're gonna get a whole lot of new stuff.”
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