How did the original big-screen Mary Poppins end up sitting out Disney’s live-action update to the franchise that won her an Oscar — only to turn up as a seafaring DCEU badass in a surprise Aquaman cameo?
Aquaman producer Peter Safran says snagging Julie Andrews to voice a certain fearsome deep-sea character ended up being a pretty straightforward process, especially once it was clear that Andrews wanted to stay away from the spotlight of Mary Poppins Returns in order to let Emily Blunt have the Disney spotlight all to herself.
**SPOILER WARNING: There’s a pretty significant story spoiler for Aquaman below. If you want to see the movie without knowing key character reveals and plot beats beforehand, now’s your chance to swim back to shore!**
Safran recently told Vanity Fair that director James Wan and the creative team envisioned casting a distinctively British female voice for Karathen, a mythical and super-powerful creature who dwells in solitude at the bottom of the ocean. Although most Atlanteans believe Karathen is nothing more than a scary legend, Arthur (Jason Momoa) and Mera (Amber Heard) discover it's very real — and just as powerful as advertised — when they encounter the creature late in the movie.
Of all the “great British actresses” the team had in mind to voice the Karathen, Andrews reportedly was the first choice, and she collaborated with Wan via video conference to get some basic direction before diving right into her role. “She was fantastic,” Safran said. “She really nailed it, gave James everything he wanted, and that was it.”
Aquaman’s ending certainly leaves open the possibility that Karathen (and Andrews, since she’s pretty much defined the character now) could return in future DCEU movies, whether in a direct sequel or in any other extended-universe project where the appearance of the sea's most menacing denizen makes perfect sense. But for now, we’ll enjoy what DC’s already given us: Andrews makes her big-screen splash starting today, as Aquaman finally opens wide in theaters everywhere.