Iconic movie star Julie Andrews was “practically perfect” in 1964’s Mary Poppins — and she earned an Oscar to prove it. But the grande dame of musical movies is sure Emily Blunt, who plays Mary Poppins in the new version (titled Mary Poppins Returns) descending into theaters in December, will make the role her own. “I admire her enormously,” Julie exclusively told Closer Weekly at the Raise Your Voice concert honoring the star in NYC on March 5.

“It’s a brand new film based on all of the other stories Walt Disney had in his trunk based on P.L. Travers’ Poppins character,” Julie explained. “It’s wonderful Emily is the new Poppins.” Looking back on the original, in which she starred with Dick Van Dyke, Julie, 82, marveled, “It was 50 years ago, and that boggles my mind!”

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Julie and Dick in Mary Poppins.

The original Mary Poppins — along with 1964’s The Americanization of Emily and 1965’s The Sound of Music — launched Julie’s acting career. “It was amazing,” she said, in no small part because she’d been hired to do what she loved. “Singing is very, very close to my heart. The giving of that sound… over the years you begin to realize how fabulous [it is that] you can make somebody forget [their troubles].”

Sadly, a spoonful of sugar didn’t help Julie after she had surgery in 1997 to remove nodules on her vocal chords that resulted in the loss of her famed singing voice. “It was devastating,” she said. But the star has gone on to write children’s books, star in The Princess Diaries, and last year, directed a production of My Fair Lady in Sydney. “It seems [my voice is] not all that I am,” Julie shared. Now she’s looking forward to seeing Mary Poppins Returns — and hearing Emily sing — along with the rest of us. “The gift of voice is not something that should be taken lightly,” Julie said. “It is a gift.”

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