Emily Blunt was shocked at how well her veteran castmate Dick Van Dyke danced on the set of Mary Poppins Returns.
The 93-year-old actor is the only member of the cast of the 1964 original to return for the long-awaited sequel – and Emily, who stars as the titular magical nanny, discovered he’s still fit as a fiddle.
During one scene Dick, who plays the son of Mr. Dawes, one of his two characters from the first film, dances – and the 35-year-old says he didn’t need any special effects or body doubles.
“Dick Van Dyke is so lithe nobody could believe that it is him actually dancing,” she tells U.K. chat show host Graham Norton.
When he wasn’t busting moves, the British actress and her castmates asked Dick to regale them with tales from the past.
“We all sat around him like kids wanting to know all about the original,” she explains. “He is so instantly magical, positive and so full of life, it was very moving having him around. It was very special.”
One cast member who paid close attention to the nonagenarian was Lin-Manuel Miranda, who plays Jack, a Cockney lamplighter who takes his inspiration from Bert, Dick’s beloved Cockney character from the original.
Commenting on his approach as an American playing an Englishman like Dick, he says, “I was very aware of Dick’s accent and he is 93, so I knew that whatever I did, it would be talked about for the rest of my life!”
A notable absence from the film is the 1964 version’s star, Julie Andrews. Emily reveals that this was a deliberate choice as Julie wanted to give her replacement a clear run at the role.
“It was always the plan,” she adds. “I think early on she very graciously said that she wanted it to be my show. That was very nice.”