Which Mary Poppins star paid for a role in the movie?

By Alexandra Heilbron on November 22, 2018 | 4 Comments

Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins Returns. Inset: Dick Van Dyke as Bert in the 1964 Mary Poppins
One of the stars of the original 1964 feature film Mary Poppins has admitted the only way he could get a role as a banker in the movie was to pay Walt Disney $4,000.

Dick Van Dyke, who had already been cast in a starring role as chimney sweep Bert (above, inset), also wanted to play the elderly banker, Mr. Dawes Sr., but Walt Disney just couldn’t picture it.

During an interview on ABC’s Mary Poppins Returns: Behind the Magic – A Special Edition of 20/20, which airs tonight (Nov. 22), the 92-year-old star told Lin-Manuel Miranda that Walt refused to give him the second, smaller part. “I said, ‘I’ll do it for nothing.’ Actually, I had to give him $4,000 dollars. I had to pay him to do the part,” Van Dyke revealed, adding, “And I’d do it again.”

Van Dyke went on to say that he was thrilled to hear there was going to be a sequel, titled Mary Poppins Returns. The new movie, which takes place years later, featuring Jane and Michael Banks now grown up with children of their own, stars Emily Blunt as the magical nanny.

He said, “I got excited, of course, that there was going to be one, and, of course, my first question was: ‘Can I be in it?'” he told Lin-Manuel Miranda, who stars opposite Blunt as street lamplighter named Jack — a role similar to the chimney sweep Van Dyke played in the original.

Van Dyke (pictured in a scene from the new film above) was welcomed with open arms to the sequel, landing the role of Mr. Dawes Jr., the son of his original banker character.

Mary Poppins Returns debuts in theaters on December 19, 2018. ~Alexandra Heilbron

Comments & Discussion

  1. Kris • November 22, 2018 @ 12:04 PM

    How sad that a legend like Mr. Van Dyke had to pay to be in it….makes no sense.

  2. Van • November 22, 2018 @ 1:55 PM

    It’s not sad. It’s just a funny little anecdote of show biz. He didn’t have to pay to be in it. He had to pay Walt to give him the second part (of Mr. Dawes Sr.) because Walt couldn’t envision what Dick was seeing in his head.

  3. Jess • November 23, 2018 @ 10:49 AM

    Big oof

  4. Wendy • November 23, 2018 @ 11:51 AM

    This seems like he’s fabricated things maybe just a little to make it a more interesting story. I can believe Walt maybe didn’t think he could pull off playing a really old dude, but paying Walt money doesn’t seem plausible. Good story though.

  5. Bob F. • November 23, 2018 @ 4:34 PM

    When I was in high school back in 1953, I had to wait in downtown Urbana IL on the city bus, so I waited in a restaurant there that had a T.V. The CBS Morning Show was on as I waited and the host for that program was Walter Cronkite. There was also a young guy from Danville IL who had a five minute segment on that program. During that segment, he always told a story while drawing a picture on a drawing board. He was very entertaining, so I always enjoyed watching and listening to this funny skinny guy. This was my first introduction to the talents of Dick Van Dyke.

  6. Blaine Ziolkowski • November 24, 2018 @ 1:04 AM

    I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting the VanDyke family and if you don’t think Mr VanDyke would pay to play a role he really wanted, then you don’t know Dick!

  7. Jb Pelkey • November 24, 2018 @ 3:05 PM

    Mr Van Dyke was funny in his own show and good with kids in Mary Poppins what a shame he was not allowed to do more work without paying to do so what a shame indeed

  8. anne marie smith • November 25, 2018 @ 10:45 AM

    Oh, I’m reasonably sure that ol’ Dicky didn’t have to put out a DIME to play any roles whatsoever to anyone, Walt or whoever else! After all, we’re talking about Dick Van Dyke, here, true?

  9. anne marie smith • November 25, 2018 @ 7:14 PM

    Oh, I’m reasonably sure that ol’ Dicky didn’t have to put out a DIME to play any roles whatsoever to anyone, Walt or whoever else! After all, we’re talking about Dick Van Dyke, here, true?

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