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Disney may be preparing to release a sequel to the 1964 film Mary Poppins for the big screen on Dec. 19 with Mary Poppins Returns, but original star Dick Van Dyke revealed that he had to persuade Walt Disney to land a second role in the original.
During Thursday’s holiday broadcast of ABC’s Mary Poppins Returns: Behind the Magic – A Special Edition of 20/20, which gives viewers an inside look at Mary Poppins Returns, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Van Dyke sit down for a one-on-one discussion where they confer about Van Dyke’s role in the original and his excitement to share the magic of the beloved classic to a newer generation. It was during this discussion where the 92-year-old shared his secret fight to take on another role in the 1964 film.
In the original film, Van Dyke is recognized for playing the chimney sweeper Bert, but the actor revealed that he had to financially persuade Disney to allow him to portray the film’s banker, Mr. Dawes Sr., as well. “I said, ‘I’ll do it for nothing.’ Actually, I had to give him $4,000 dollars. I had to pay him to do the part,” the actor explained of his persuasion to Disney, also explaining that Disney wouldn’t give him the part of the banker despite Van Dyke asking for it.
After Miranda further pressed on whether Van Dyke ultimately paid Disney to play the banker, Van Dyke quipped, “And I’d do it again.” To this day, Miranda pointed out, many viewers fail to remember that Van Dyke played two roles in the family film, for he was unrecognizable when portraying the banker versus Bert.
“I always, when I tell my friends you’re in it. They go, ‘Oh, he’s playing Bert,’ I go, ‘Remember he played two parts in that movie,'” Miranda explained, something Van Dyke says he’s well aware of.
“It’s funny when you’re a kid and you see it, you don’t realize that. You don’t realize it’s you in that other part,” he added. “But you know when they made me up as the old man in the old one, I had to go to Walt and ask him for the part, he didn’t give it to me.”
Despite having to persuade Disney to allow him to star in the original, the veteran actor was welcomed to the sequel, returning to the story disguised as Mr. Dawes Jr.
“I got excited, of course, that there was going to be one, and, of course, my first question was: ‘Can I be in it?’ ” the actor told Miranda of his reaction to hearing of the sequel, which will have Emily Blunt taking on the role of Poppins and Miranda starring as Poppins’ friend, Jack.
Taking place years after the original, the 2018 musical sequel follows the lives of grown-up Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw). After the death of Michael’s wife, Poppins (Blunt) returns to help raise the new generation of Banks children, enlisting help from street lamplighter Jack (Miranda).
The Rob Marshall-directed film also stars Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson, Nathanael Saleh, Angela Lansbury and David Warner.
The 20/20 Thanksgiving special is set to feature Blunt and Miranda opening up about their roles in the sequel and their thoughts on following in the footsteps of Van Dyke and Julie Andrews.
The hourlong special will also include interviews with other cast and crew from Mary Poppins Returns, including director Rob Marshall; composer Marc Shaiman; lyricist Scott Wittman; Davies and Dawson, actors who play the Banks children; costume designer Sandy Powell; character designer James Woods; and animator James Baxter. The special will also feature interviews with Karen Dotrice, the actress who played Jane Banks in the original Mary Poppins, and Jeff Kurtti, a Disney historian and author.
Mary Poppins Returns: Behind the Magic – A Special Edition of 20/20 will air on Thursday, Nov. 22 on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.
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