Critics praise Disney's new Mary Poppins movie that will hit cinemas later this week in the US. In the new movie, Mary Poppins Returns, British-born actress Emily Blunt takes the lead role from Julie Andrews while changing the tone of the character into a more tart version, which Blunt says is closer to the character in the books.

Blunt, one of the few actors in Hollywood who shuns social media, remains infamous among many Americans after making comments that she regretted becoming an American citizen.

In 2015, Blunt appeared in an interview among Hollywood glitterati who spoke negatively about Republicans and then-candidate Donald Trump to The Hollywood Reporter after watching the first Republican debate while promoting an upcoming film in Toronto. Blunt said she regretted becoming a US citizen. "I became an American citizen recently, and that night we watched the Republican debate, and I thought, 'This was a terrible mistake. What have I done?'

In the debate hosted by Fox News, Republicans across the country were surprised by the critical tone of the hosts, especially with Donald Trump. Throughout the debate, Megyn Kelly sparred with Trump over his comments where Kelly said he called women "pigs" and "fat slobs."

Two weeks before Blunt's infamous comment, Blunt appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and said she was not "entirely thrilled" about becoming an American. "People ask me about the whole day. They were like, 'Oh, it must have been so emotional.' I was like, 'It wasn't! It was sad!' I like being British."

Blunt remarked to Kimmel that the US citizenship oath forced her to renounce her allegiance to Queen Elizabeth. Part of the American citizenship oath requires new citizens to "absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty."

"I had to renounce my Queen!" Blunt said.

"The thing that's weird is I do get to keep both my British citizenship and this, but you have to renounce her," Blunt told Jimmy Kimmel. "But it's kind of typically American -- not to be rude. I had to renounce her in the room but I don't actually technically renounce her. They were like, 'just say it, you don't have to mean it but just say it.'"

After her comments about becoming an American flared online, Blunt quickly apologized on the Today Show the next day. "I just, it was so not the intention to hurt anybody or cause any offense, so I really apologize to those I caused offense. It was just an off-hand joke. I think I'll probably leave the political jokes to late-night or something."

Two weeks later, she told Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show that she was "astonished by the outrage because it was meant completely as an innocuous joke. So I think I was more taken aback, so it did bum me out."

Blunt Humor

Blunt said Julie Andrew's Oscar-winning performance is different from her version of Mary Poppins. Blunt said her version is eccentric, batty, weird, funny, and vain.

In an ABC 20/20 program dedicated to the new movie, Blunt said she did not watch Julie Andrews' version since she was a child. Instead, she went back to P.L. Travers' more ascerbic version found in the original books for inspiration. The Australian-born author wrote eight Mary Poppins books beginning in 1934. Travers notoriously loathed the first Disney film.

P.L. Travers in 1924

Director Rob Marshall said he chose Emily Blunt to play Mary Poppins because of her wide range as an actress and that she can sing and dance.

In an interview on ABC, which is owned by Disney, Blunt said her Mary Poppins is similar to the original in the books. "She's completely eccentric and so rude. Deliciously rude and vain."

Mary Poppins Returns opens in US theaters on December 19.



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Clinton Gillespie is editor

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