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Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda on magic in Mary Poppins Returns

Lin-Manuel Miranda on what he loved about the film

Lin-Manuel Miranda is an award-winning US composer, lyricist and performer, whose hit Broadway musical phenomenon Hamilton has snagged pretty much every award, from the Pulitzer Prize to a clutch of Tonys and Grammys.

Most recently, the 38-year-old received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Now, Miranda - who previously only had bit roles in small films and TV shows - has scored his big movie break in Mary Poppins Returns, which is currently showing here.

He plays Jack the lamplighter, a former apprentice of Dick Van Dyke's Bert from the original 1964 musical Mary Poppins.

The father of two boys, aged four and 11 months, said: "Back in the day, these were the guys who took care of the lights in London, turned them off in the morning, turned them on in the evening. There is something magical about it. Bringing light to London, and I think Jack does that as well.

"He gets to go on these incredible adventures with Mary Poppins and the children and he brings light to the world."

How did you become involved with Mary Poppins Returns?

They said Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins and I basically was in from that moment on. They laid out the story, explaining this was not a remake of Mary Poppins, which I think is an impossible thing, but a sequel continuing the stories in the books.

Just everything they said made me say, "I want to see this movie." So I'm thrilled to be a part of it.

There are some wonderful themes in the film, like finding that child within. How did you get that spirit on the set?

I'll never forget the moment we walked into the soundstage and saw 17 Cherry Tree Lane rebuilt brick by brick, like we were stepping into the original.

There have been moments like that throughout - whether it is Dick Van Dyke coming to work on set for a couple of days and hearing stories about making the original or it is hearing the orchestra play these new original songs that are such a love letter to the Sherman Brothers songs from the original.

And there is a certain magical element to the film. Why is now such a good time for it?

Mary Poppins is really timeless in a very particular way. I remember playing (the original movie) for my (first) son.

He wasn't even talking yet at that point, but the music started and he gasped, and he was not prone to gasping. It was just the effect of this incredible enchanting score and world, and we have done our best to evoke that.

What I love is (director) Rob (Marshall) and the creative team have really taken painstaking measures to evoke that wonder of the original. When we go into an animated sequence, it is a hand-drawn animated sequence like the original.

What were the locations in London that played a major part in this film?

Shutting down Buckingham Palace to take 100 bicycles down the mall, that was a thrilling night, and I will never forget sort of checking in to see, "Is the Queen home? Is she watching what's going on out here?"

(Then there were) just shots of me alone on a bicycle near London Bridge and on Borough Market and near St Paul's Cathedral, that's all been very exciting.

Is there any personal anecdote or connection with the original Mary Poppins?

I write music for a living, and that's been one of the great joys of my life. The Sherman Brothers are heroes to me, as they are to anyone.

There is this trick they do that was revealed in (the 2013 movie) Saving Mr Banks of zigging when you think they are gonna zag.

"A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go down." Every time they say "down" the pitch goes up, so I stole that for Hamilton in King George's song.

There is just one moment where he goes, "oceans rise, empires fall", and that is my little love note to the Sherman Brothers, just going down when they rise and going up when they fall, because it is just such an effective little technique and they sort of patented and perfected it on the first film.

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