David Magee Interview: ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ writer
Screenwriter David Magee admits that if anyone other than Rob Marshall were directing “Mary Poppins Returns,” he “would’ve been hesitant. But Rob is a master of movie musicals,” so the scribe decided to dive in headfirst. Watch our exclusive video interview with Magee above.
This sequel reintroduces the title nanny (Emily Blunt), who returns to the Banks clan — the now grownup children Michael and Jane, along with Michael’s three kids — in their time of need. The big question on Magee’s mind was whether or not he could “find a story” that would do justice to the P.L. Travers‘s original books. Marshall and producer John DeLuca, both of whom receive story credits, sent him “some initial ideas of what they thought they might like to play with, images, opening scenes,” all of which Magee loved.
Magee set out to write a script “that continued the story of ‘Mary Poppins'” instead of trying to remake the 1964 original. Although there are elements incorporated from the first film, including characters and set pieces, “we wanted to be careful that it wasn’t taking advantage of the fact that there was a beloved film.” He didn’t want to lazily “wink and nudge and point to references from that original film” just for the sake of nostalgia. Because this story “takes place decades later,” he adds, “those trappings” are still there, but have been “forgotten,” which precipitates Poppins’s return.
Magee earned Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Finding Neverland” (2004) and “Life of Pi” (2012), both of which brought him BAFTA and Critics Choice bids as well. Additionally, he competed at the Golden Globes for “Finding Neverland” and at WGA Awards for “Life of Pi.”
Will Magee earn more awards recognition for “Mary Poppins”? The original film contended for 13 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi. It won five of those bids, including Best Actress for Julie Andrews. That’s a high bar to clear, but Mary might still have that magic touch. “Mary Poppins Returns” arrives in theaters on December 19.