Nanny McPhee Returns - Lil Woods, Asa Butterfield, Oscar Steer, Eros Vlahos and Rosie Ritson
Nanny McPhee Returns - Megsie (Lil Woods), Norman (Asa Butterfield), Vincent Green (Oscar Steer), Cyril Gray (Eros Vlahos) and Celia Gray (Rosie Ritson) © 2010 Universal Pictures

In Nanny McPhee Returns, Emma Thompson reprises her role of the magical nanny with a knack of helping children learn lessons that will help them throughout their lives.

The sequel focuses on Isabel Green (Maggie Gyllenhaal), whose husband is away at war, leaving her and her three children, Norman (Asa Butterfiedl), Megsie (Lil Woods) and Vincent (Oscar Steer) to run the family farm. The kids are constantly fighting, a situation that is exacerbated when their posh cousins from London, Celia (Rosie Taylor-Ritson) and Cyril (Eros Vlahos) come to live with them.

Lil Woods, Eros Vlahos and Rosie Taylor-Ritson flew to Los Angeles to promote the movie and spoke with us about their roles and the film.

Can you tell us a little about your characters?

Nanny McPhee Returns - Lil Woods, Asa Butterfield and Oscar Steer
Megsie (Lil Woods), Norman (Asa Butterfield) and Vincent Green (Oscar Steer) receive an unexpected shock © 2010 Universal Pictures

Lil Woods: Megsie is nine years old. She a big tomboy and not at all a girly girl, and she doesn’t like making a fuss over things. She’s very direct, and she gets on with things. She’s the mender of the family; if there’s something, like a gatepost that goes wonky or a window that smashes, she’s there to fix it every time.

Eros Vlahos: Cyril is a posh young chap who gets up to lots of mischief and fighting and makes lots of remarks that are quite funny. He comes to the farm against his will with his sister, Celia, because they’ve been sent away from London. When he arrives, there’s lots of mud, and he obviously doesn’t like it because it ruins his clothes. There are not sweets around the house and there are chores!

Rosie Taylor-Ritson: Celia is obnoxious at the start of the film, she can’t do anything for herself, has to have 1,000 maids and then one day her parents decide to send her and her brother off to the country.

Had you all seen the first Nanny McPhee film?

Nanny McPhee Returns - Asa Butterfield, Eros Vlahos, Lil Woods, Oscar Steer and Rosie Ritson
Norman (Asa Butterfield), Cyril Gray (Eros Vlahos), Megsie (Lil Woods), Vincent Green (Oscar Steer) and Celia Gray (Rosie Ritson) bring home the piglets © 2010 Universal Pictures

Eros: Yeah, we’d all seen it.

Lil: I spent most of the first film underneath my seat in the cinema, but after that I got a bit more used to it. I must have watched it about five times before I knew I was being cast for it.

Rosie: It’s one of those films which you always have on DVD in your home. It’s a timeless film.

Did you meet early to bond or at least get to know each other?

Rosie: We had four weeks of rehearsal beforehand and we kind of just all clicked anyway since they cast the film really well. And then Eros and I got partnered up for brother and sister quite early on.

Were you all nervous when you met Emma Thompson?

Nanny McPhee Returns - Eros Vlahos
Cyril Gray (Eros Vlahos) © 2010 Universal Pictures

Eros: When I first met Emma at one of the auditions, I think with the way she is you don’t really feel nervous at all because you walk in and she says ‘hi’ to you and you feel a bit star struck, but then she’s so down-to-earth that you can just have a conversation with her. Within five minutes, everyone felt comfortable talking to her. She’s so nice.

Lil: I felt a bit nervous just before I met her but then I met her and she was lovely. She was completely down-to-earth. She’s just a normal person so I just completely settled down and relaxed.

I understand that Emma Thompson jumped in the water and swam around to give you something to look at when you were supposed to be watching magical pigs doing synchronized swimming. Describe what that was like.

Lil: We burst out laughing which was the reaction they wanted.

Nanny McPhee Returns - Rosie Taylor-Ritson
Celia Gray (Rosie Taylor-Ritson) © 2010 Universal Pictures

Rosie: She was really committed to it too.

When you weren’t looking at Emma, what were you really looking at?

Rosie: Me and Lil and Oscar, who plays Vincent in the film, were looking at long sticks with tennis balls and tape on them and Emma said, ‘Oh no. This doesn’t work. We can see that you’re not laughing.’ So the next take she got pushed into the water fully clothed. It was really cold and she was in her jumper and she started committing to it by doing all the synchronized swimming.

Lil: So the reaction you see in the film, that’s us laughing at Emma.

How much does American TV influence you?

Nanny McPhee Returns - Eros Vlahos and Rosie Ritson
Cyril Gray (Eros Vlahos) and Celia Gray (Rosie Ritson) unwillingly head to the countryside © 2010 Universal Pictures

Rosie: You really notice a difference when you are flicking through channels between English accents and notice straight away which is American and which is English.

Eros: I think the main difference for me is when you watch English shows, there are a few soap operas, long running TV series that are on two or three times a week. You watch them and then you watch an American show like House or Lost and you see the real differences. Lost, for instance, every episode is the quality of a movie. Then you watch Eastenders!

How do you all like it here in the States?

Eros: It’s great! Everything is bigger and cheaper.

Lil: The food is ginormous!

Rosie: Huge portions.

Eros: And the cars, wow they’re big!

Lil: And no one walks in America. We were walking down to get some food and we got really strange looks!

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.