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Emily Blunt, from Mickey to Mary
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Emily Blunt, from Mickey to Mary

Friday, 01 February 2019
By Frank Rousseau
Frank Rousseau

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5 min read

Fifty-four years after the Robert Stevenson classic with the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Julie Andrews, Disney has brought us a new screen adaptation of P. L. Travers’ novel, for the big kids we are. Emily Blunt slips effortlessly into the role of the delightful British nanny.

Bringing Mary Poppins, a much-loved, five-times Oscar-winner, back to life is no small challenge. This time, the story is set in the 1930s, during the Great Depression, and the nanny with the upwardly mobile umbrella is back to take care of the Banks family, 20 years after her first visit. And there’s work to be done! After making a name playing a bitchy secretary in The Devil Wears Prada, Emily Blunt, 35, steps neatly into one of the most loveable and charismatic roles of her career so far.

Emily Blunt
Emily Blunt
Before taking on the role yourself, what did Mary Poppins mean to you?

I’m pretty sure it was one of the first films I ever saw as a child. I must have been about six. When I found out I would be playing Mary in the sequel, I didn’t want to watch it again. I always knew that Julie Andrews was a diamond to be treasured. I wanted this to be my version, not something to compare. It’s a very different story anyway, set after the Wall Street Crash. The children, Michael and Jane, have grown up into rather sad adults. Fortunately, Mary drops in to put a bit of magic into the everyday!

Why do you think Mary Poppins is still so popular after all these years?

Is there any child who hasn’t dreamed, even for one second, of being able to tidy their room simply by clicking their fingers? There is something very comforting about Mary. She’s the nanny we all dreamed of having at home, even if she could be quite strict at times! The wonderful thing about this character is that she does good purely for the sake of others. She’s truly a heroine who immediately understands how she can make other people feel better. She’s kind, and it’s a wonderful thing to have her back, especially these days when there seems to be so much hatred and fear of others. Another thing I love about this film is that it’s so poetic. We desperately need poetry just like we need our children to be children, and enjoy stories that are right for their age.

Emily Blunt
Emily Blunt
On the subject of childhood, do you remember your first watch?

Yes. It was a Mickey Mouse Swatch with a Velcro strap. I can see it now! It was all kinds of colours and I specifically remember that the pink was fluorescent. It was like magic at night! I loved that watch but I lost it. It happens, especially when you’re a little girl…

My first watch? A Mickey Mouse Swatch with a Velcro strap.
Emily Blunt
What's the first thing you look at when buying a watch?

Maybe it’s silly, but when I buy an item of clothing, I like to feel the fabric, the texture, and it’s the same with a watch. I have a weakness for brushed steel and white gold. Or pink gold, which adds a more delicate, feminine touch. Obviously, what’s inside the watch has to be exciting too, but the truth is I’m more interested in the aesthetic, the overall harmony of the shapes and proportions, than the purely technical aspect. I’m not a great fan of watches with an overly geometric, angular form. I prefer soft lines and discreet dials. A fluorescent pink Mickey Mouse watch might not be my first choice today!

Do you have a large collection of watches?

I own fewer watches than I do shoes! Having said that, a beautiful watch is the ultimate accessory. Sometimes, we women can’t stand the idea of a bare wrist, in which case a bracelet is fine but a watch is something else altogether. It elevates an outfit, it adds to your style. Personally, I like to match the colour of the strap to my shoes. It’s that extra touch that differentiates between women with taste and women who presumably aren’t so concerned.

Leather strap? Fabric? Steel?

Steel is the most resistant but it’s also much heavier, and as I have small wrists… As a general rule, I prefer leather straps, but it really depends on the watch and what I’m wearing with it.

Analogue or digital?

Analogue! I love the mental gymnastics of seeing the big hand and the little hand and immediately knowing what time it is. I’m not a fan of big fat pushers, except on a man’s watch.

What's the best time of year to give someone a watch, or to treat yourself?

Christmas always seems the perfect time but thinking about it, at the end of the day there is no ideal moment. It’s really a question of paying attention and following your instinct.

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