History has not been kind to Americans bringing London accents to “Mary Poppins.”
Dick Van Dyke was skewered for decades for his over-the-top accent as chimney sweep Bert in 1964’s “Mary Poppins.” The legendary comedic actor even apologized in 2017 for “inflicting the most atrocious Cockney accent in the history of cinema.”
Next up, Lin-Manuel Miranda stars as East End London lamplighter Jack in “Mary Poppins Returns” (opening Dec. 19). The “Hamilton” star knows he has his work cut out for him.
“I know (my accent) will be scrutinized for as long as I’m alive, if Dick Van Dyke is any indication,” Miranda, 38, says with a laugh. “And that’s fine.”
Miranda studied and worked extensively with dialect coach Sandra Butterworth while filming his role alongside the new Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) in director Rob Marshall’s musical. The hardest part for Miranda was stopping.
“It took a while to shake (the accent) after we wrapped. I was on set with a British crew in London,” he says. “I was surrounded by the accent. It was very easy to stay in it and play around with it.”
Even in between scenes, Butterworth would give on-the-spot vocal counsel. But Miranda insists he was most concerned that his true self came through over dialect process.
“I needed it to feel authentic to me,” says Miranda. “I didn’t want to torture myself to the point that it didn’t sound like me coming out.”