Dick Van Dyke had to pay for a role in the original Mary Poppins movie, and he says he would do it again if it came down to it. In an interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda for ABC’s upcoming 20/20 special, Mary Poppins Returns: Behind the Magic, the beloved actor revealed that he had to fork over $4,000 — a fortune at the time — before Walt Disney would agree to let him have a second role in the iconic 1964 film.
Dick Van Dyke is best known for portraying chimney sweeper Bert opposite Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins, but he actually had a lesser known second role as banker Mr. Dawes, in the movie. Van Dyke looks nothing like Bert in the banker’s scene, virtually unrecognizable in a bushy white beard as he plays the banker, but Walt Disney was adamant about not letting him play two roles — until the actor offered to pay for it, per the Hollywood Reporter.
“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. And I’d do it again.”
Van Dyke went on to explain, “You know when they made me up as the old man in the [original film], I had to go to go to Walt and ask him for the part, he didn’t give it to me.”
For the upcoming sequel movie, Mary Poppins Returns, Dick Van Dyke plays Mr. Dawes, Jr. and he looks almost exactly the same as he when he played Mr. Dawes, Sr., 54 years ago.
“I got excited, of course, that there was going to be one, and, of course, my first question was: ‘Can I be in it?'” Van Dyke said.
Interestingly, Walt Disney wasn’t the only one who took issue with the casting for the original Mary Poppins. Even the original Mary wasn’t a shoe-in for the lead role in the 1964 musical fantasy film. In an interview with USA Today, star Julie Andrews revealed that Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers called her on the phone after her casting was first announced in 1962 and told her she was “far too pretty” to play the iconic flying nanny in the movie adaption of her book.
“But you’ve got the nose for it,” Travers reportedly said. The author was also opposed to Dick Van Dyke’s casting as handyman Bert.
You can see Dick Van Dyke as banker Mr. Dawes in the original Mary Poppins below.
Mary Poppins Returns: Behind the Magic will air on Thursday, November 22, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.