Those aren’t film tricks or special effects. That truly is Dick Van Dyke, 91 at the time, dancing up a storm on a desk in “Mary Poppins Returns.”
The climactic moment, teased in the film’s trailer, is a showstopper for Van Dyke, and one of two memorable appearances by legendary actors – the other by Angela Lansbury – in the sequel to 1964’s “Mary Poppins” (in theaters now).
Van Dyke, who just turned 93, starred in the original film with two roles: as Cockney chimney sweep Bert and as aged banker Mr. Dawes, who died laughing in the end. In “Mary Poppins Returns,” set 20 years later, Van Dyke literally jumped at the chance to play Mr. Dawes Jr.
“Every frame is him,” says director Rob Marshall. “He’s fearless, has such a joy and he loves to dance. He’s truly an original.”
Marshall made contingency plans for the routine he and choreographer John DeLuca had worked out for Van Dyke before the actor’s two days of shooting at London’s Shepperton Studios.
They set up a stool and a chair as steps leading onto the high desk. Stars Emily Blunt (as Mary Poppins) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (as lamplighter Jack) were positioned at both sides of the desk – to be in the scene and to assist Van Dyke in getting up to the desk.
Marshall says he has run into Van Dyke at Ralphs, the star’s local grocery store in Malibu, Calif., and knew he can still shake it.