The only Mary Poppins character from the 1964 original that appears in Mary Poppins Returns is Dick Van Dyke. Dick also happens to be the oldest, but don’t mention that to him as that has not stopped him at all from dancing.
Dick played the banker in the original film, and now he returns to play Mr. Dawes Jr., the son of the banker. Full circle, eh? Director Rob Marshall was not worried about Dick having to dance on the film, as he once recalled seeing the actor at a grocery store, “and he was literally dancing up and down the aisles while he was shopping.” So clearly Dick is always ready to dance. Dick recently sat down with the NY Times to talk about what went into his role for the new film, as well as his experience on the original classic.
When asked if he needed special preparation for his role as Mr. Dawes Jr., Dick said, “No. I’m always dancing. I work out every day, mostly in the pool. I go to the gym and do a little bit of weight lifting, but at my age, not a lot. I am arthritic, I must say. Too many pratfalls. But that wasn’t the problem.” In fact, Dick had the dancing down to a tee. It was this new character’s accent that gave him a headache. “[the problem was] making sure I sounded like a Brit. I’ve taken it on the chin for 60 years about my atrocious Cockney accent in the first movie,” Dick said, adding, “No one has ever forgotten it. Because of that, they had a language gal almost handcuffed to me. She made me sound pretty good. They won’t laugh at me on this one.”
Mary Poppins Returns, which stars Emily Blunt as the magical nanny, is out now, and Dick is hoping that a new generation of children are introduced to it. “I get a lot of mail from little kids who love Mary Poppins, Dick revealed. “There’s something timeless about what Walt did. I think this movie could have used a little of his influence. I thought there was too much computer animation; sometimes it went on too long and didn’t move the story forward. But I’m hypercritical. [Laughs.] Other than that, I think it’s a great tribute to Walt.”
And even at 93, don’t expect Dick to bow out anytime soon and quit performing, as when asked what was next for him, he said, “I don’t know — certainly not retirement. I have a jazz band that I sing with and a quartet. We perform a lot.” Well it certainly sounds like Dick is a lot more active than people half his age. Kudos, Dick.