Mary Poppins Returns is nearly a month away and we’re so excited! Our dreams came true last year when we got to visit the set of the upcoming film and chat with Lin-Manuel Miranda, who plays Jack, in addition to Marc Platt, who is the producer, to learn some things about what to expect. Today, we’re going to give you some insight into what we found out from production designer John Myhre about the actual sets used in filming! From the parrot head umbrella to hidden Mickeys, here’s what we learned:
- Every part of the set has a touch of London.
There’s simply no Mary Poppins without London, and for Mary Poppins Returns, this is no exception. In the words of John Myhre, “[The movie] is a bit of a love letter to London.” After hearing the location manager describe something she noticed as “London-y” during a scouting trip, Myhre took the word to heart and ran with it — explaining to his art department, “Everything we do needs to be ‘London-y.’” It soon became his source of inspiration for all of the things he had built for the set, from the curved streets to even the recreation of Big Ben.
- Cherry Tree Lane was reimagined as a more humble place.
AKA home to the Banks, the white mansion on Cherry Tree Lane was always an iconic aspect of Mary Poppins. Myhre said that the filmmakers wanted to have key components, such as a park across the street, that stayed true to the original story, while creating a newly imagined home that would be a bit more accessible. He elaborated, “The kids shouldn’t be living in big white mansions … our Cherry Tree Lane is a little more humble, a little more gritty, a little bit more real.” We are so here for this!
- The parrot head umbrella can actually talk IRL.
Yes, you read that correctly. Mary Poppins’ parrot head umbrella can actually turn its head, blink its eyes, and speak! And no, it isn’t CGI. Myhre talks about the reasoning behind wanting to make the umbrella come to life: “We’ve got three kids and we all felt like the kids [were] going to have a much better time talking to a parrot head umbrella that can actually talk to them. There’s one that’s been made that is completely auto-animatronic … I guess you could say it’s a little nod to the original Mary Poppins, but this one is very sophisticated.” How cool is that?!
- Instead of using green screens, giant green props were built for the animated scenes.
If you’re curious about the magic behind the animated scenes, let it be known that no actual green screens were used in filming. Instead, giant props were built first and then later painted green. “[Director Rob Marshall] wanted a stage design that was a reflection of the songs and covers, so there are giant books and all sorts of fantastic things that we actually built [and] painted green to let [the cast] interact in that world [and] to be able to pull them out into the animation,” Myhre explains.
- The leeries have a home in Regent’s Park.One of the biggest musical numbers in the film star the leeries, (the lamplighters like Miranda’s character Jack) so it only makes sense for them to have a place they all can call home. Myhre mentioned that director Rob Marshall wanted a special place for all of the leeries to hang out, and that would also be hidden in plain sight. He further expands on this concept: “We came up with the idea of sort of an abandoned section of the old park. We would imagine that this is an overgrown section of Regent’s Park that you never get into anymore. This is the place where there is a dance number that has everything to do with the leeries … the gas lights, the bicycles, the lamp posts.” Don’t mind us if you spot us breaking out in dance mid-movie.
- There are hidden Mickeys! While there aren’t hidden Easter eggs with the toys in the nursery, Myhre did reveal something that makes our inner-Disney fan squeal: “I’m a huge Disneyland fan, and Rob is too, so I put in six hidden Mickeys in [the set of] the abandoned park.” Raise your hand if you’re going to be on the lookout for these with us!
Well, excuse us as we pack our bags and move into this amazing set. Catch Mary Poppins Returns when it hits theaters on December 19. And don’t miss out on more insider information from our set visit with an upcoming interview with Emily Blunt!