RB: Nanny McPhee's motto, "When you need me, but do not want me...then I must stay. When you want me, but no longer need me...then I have to go," has a very Mary Poppins–esque ring to it, I thought. Mary also disappeared as soon as the kids no longer needed her, and showed up just when she was needed most. Is that a connection you made at all?

ET: Actually, I disagree profoundly. It's not like Mary Poppins in the sense that they couldn't be more different characteristically. What's alike about them is that they're both nannies, so that's the connection. But as for everything else, it couldn't be more different. Mary Poppins is an out-and-out raging narcissist, I would opine, and her methods are very different. It's sort of like Shane and The Godfather. Just because they're nannies and they're females, and there are so few films that deal with strong female characters, that's probably why people compare them.

RB: What is about Nanny McPhee, not the movies but the woman, that you love so much?

ET: I love her mystery and her wit, and I love her judicious and consistent patience. But I also love her subversive and slightly anarchic view of the world. And I love the fact that really what she's about is trying to provide children with the tools to solve their own problems. She's not about saying this is what you do; she's not like Mary Poppins doing the tidying by magic so that everything gets put away on its own, which is jolly good fun but doesn't solve the problem. It's an immediate gratification, whereas Nanny McPhee is very much into delayed gratification.


Next Story