Lin-Manuel Miranda moves to London, promises terrible British accent

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Lin-Manuel Miranda has a promise. He'll make the world forget its many problems when he unveils his English accent for Mary Poppins Returns.

Miranda, creator and original star of Broadway's smash hit Hamilton, is underway with his next movie endeavor, playing the role of a lamplighter named Jack alongside Emily Blunt as the magical nanny in Disney's Mary Poppins Returns (out Christmas 2018).

Dick Van Dyke received barbs for his Ameri-Cockney accent as Bert the chimney sweep in the 1964 classic Mary Poppins. Miranda, a lifelong New Yorker, is sure his London accent in the sequel will take that ire to new heights.

"Well, if they didn’t like his, they are going to be furious with mine," says Miranda, 36. "I intend to represent a corner of London with my accent that has not yet been invented.

"I'm going to have the worst accent in the history of English accents — I’m going to sound like I’m from another planet," he adds gleefully. "I am really trying to manage expectations."

Miranda has clearly already mastered the British art of self-deprecation since moving to London for Mary Poppins rehearsals last month. The prep work will resume once he's finished promoting Disney's Moana (in theaters Wednesday).

He channeled the South Pacific Islands while writing songs for Moana with Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foaʻi. The team collaborated long-distance as Miranda was in New York performing Hamilton.

But since his final Hamilton show in July, Miranda has been able to deep-dive into London for Mary Poppins. He moved with his wife, Vanessa Nadal; son Sebastian, 2; and dog, Tobillo, for the extensive shoot, which is expected to last through the first half of 2017.

"Right now, we're holed up in London," says Miranda. "All I need is my keyboard and my family, and I’m good."

He has been an occasional visitor to London, notably during a "babymoon" before Sebastian's birth, when he caught a number of West End plays. This marks the first major stay for Miranda, who wrote and sang about never wanting to leave his Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights in his first musical, In the Heights.

But America's newest export is loving London, saying European coffee is "just better" than American joe.

"So I'm happy about that. But I love being in a city with a really great subway system. I love taking the Tube. I love the parks. I’m soaking up as much of it as I can," Miranda says. "The fun for me is seeing the little things that are slightly different."

There have already been memorable jaunts in London's famed parks and the London food haven Borough Market.

"We had mulled wine and tasted cheeses. It’s that kind of culture, that stuff that’s very British and very fun, that we’re really enjoying," Miranda says.

The 2015 MacArthur Fellow is hopeful the vibrant city will provide a creative spark, even from quirkily named British food.

"I'll see if there are any musical ideas that come about from eating bubble and squeak," Miranda says of the shallow-fried dish made with leftover vegetables. "I’m excited about how living in London will inspire me."

USA TODAY


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