But, wait -- why isn't she in Mary Poppins Returns, the follow-up to the movie musical that made her famous? After all, Disney recruited her co-star Dick Van Dyke to pop in, fully bearded as Mr. Dawes, Jr. (Dawes, Jr. is the son of Dawes, Sr., a character he played in plentiful makeup in the original.) Apparently, there is some confusion as to whether or not Andrews was actually approached to do a bit. Director Rob Marshall told Variety that there was a discussion, but that Andrews decided to step aside out of courtesy to Emily Blunt, who has picked up Poppins' umbrella. Marshall explained: "She said, 'This is Emily's show and I want her to run with this. She should run with this. This is hers. I don't want to be on top of that.'" (Producer Marc Platt disputed this, saying she was never meant to be involved.)
Per Variety, the role that Andrews might have occupied ended up being filled by another legend, Angela Lansbury. In the final sequence of the film, Lansbury is a magical balloon lady, who provides instant flotation devices to the characters with a song that's highly reminiscent of the original's "Let's Go Fly a Kite." This is vaguely confusing, considering Lansbury also starred in a live-action Disney musical, Bedknobs and Broomsticks from 1971. (Andrews and Lansbury have also have performed together. The video is a gem.)
To play the balloon lady would have also required Andrews to sing, which she hasn't done much of since a surgery in 1997 to treat non-cancerous nodules on her throat, which ended up permanently damaging her gorgeous voice.
Still, there's something almost perversely entertaining about the fact that Andrews is not inhabiting the sweet, kooky old lady part, but rather the growling hell beast of the sea. Her career is full of unexpected turns -- watch, for instance, the movie she made with her late husband Blake Edwards, S.O.B. -- and this is just another one of them.