Exclusive Interview with John Myhre of Mary Poppins Returns
Today I had the honor of speaking with Oscar award-winning Production Designer, John Myhre. John was the Production Designer for Mary Poppins Returns and played a lead role in the overall look of the film.
The Best Job in the World
In his own words, John has “the best job in the world”. He reads the script and then imagines the colors, styles, architectures, textures- everything that people will see and touch in the film. Mary Poppins Returns presented a unique challenge in that there were two different worlds that the team had to create – the real world and the magical Mary Poppins world. The two worlds would then combine by the end of the film, specifically in the park scene.
Everything we see in the film was on set for the film- tables, books, lampposts, etc. One set, in particular, was enough to compete with a Broadway production – the Royal Doulton Music Hall.
The crew was tasked with building an entire theatre set including the stage, proscenium, seating for the audience, walkways to get up and down from the stage. However, in order to create the animated look, a little trick was required. “If you can imagine seeing the most big, beautiful, amazing stage show you’ve ever seen on Broadway. With everything built, but it was all painted green. That’s what it looked like while we were filming.”
From there, the team worked very closely with an animation team. In fact, they had to pull animator’s out of retirement to work on this project- something that hadn’t been done in decades!
The Best Part of Mary Poppins Returns
One of the best parts of creating Mary Poppins Returns was the day Dick Van Dyke arrived. John was able to walk him through the set and show him the desk he would be dancing on. Rob Marshall had a vision of Dick Van Dyke jumping up onto the desk and tap dancing.
Being mindful that it had been 50 years since Dick had appeared in a Mary Poppins film, John had created a secret set of stairs to help him walk up to the desk. Upon showing him the stairs, Dick Van Dyke looked him in the eyes and said, “John, take those stairs away!” So, John dragged the stairs away.
“A minute and a half later, we’re watching Dick Van Dyke throw the double doors open, act out the scene and then jump. JUMP up onto the desk and do a tap dance. Unbelievable!”
A Mary Poppins Ride
John shared an interesting tidbit during our conversation. Both John and Rob Marshall are avid Disney fans. The two of them began talking about Mary Poppins Returns over 10 years ago. However, before they began working on the hit film, the two teamed up and designed a Mary Poppins ride for Disneyland. Will Disney build the ride? It is undetermined, but wouldn’t that be a magical addition to an already magical destination?
Listen to the full interview and hear more about John Myhre and his experience creating one of the most magical films of our time!
Mary Poppins Returns is available instantly on Digital 4K Ultra HD™/HD and Movies Anywhere and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™ and DVD March19—with a sing-along version and never-before-seen bonus features.
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