Dame Julia Elizabeth Andrews, DBE, was born Julia Elizabeth Wells on October 1, 1935. Julie Andrews is a BAFTA, Emmy, Grammy and Academy Award-winning actress, singer, and author. Andrews rose to prominence after starring in Broadway musicals such as My Fair Lady and Camelot, as well as musical films like Mary Poppins (1964) and The Sound of Music (1965). Of late, she has had a major revival of her career as a result of her role in The Princess Diaries and its sequel as well as the three “Shrek” films. Recently, Andrews also made her debut as a theatre director.
Wild About Movies caught up with the Oscar winning Best Actress (“Mary Poppins”) last week in Los Angeles, where she talks about reprising her role as the Queen in “Shrek 3,” how the fart jokes in the Shrek films don’t bother her in the least, as well as about her upcoming autobiography.
Wild About Movies: Julie, the role you play as the queen, is quite demanding, even though it is just your voice they recorded. It was a little more physical for you.
Julie Andrews: And I think it’s great. I love it. I think the Queen really comes into her own, and I’m delighted.
Wild About Movies: When you got the call that you were coming back, is that something that you definitely said yes to?
Julie Andrews: Absolutely. No question.
Wild About Movies: You do a little bit of humming of some tunes that might be familiar.
Julie Andrews: It’s funny how many people pick up on that. Really, it is. I just love the fact that she does this head butt twice and it makes her slightly delirious. I love that slight satire. It’s terrific.
Wild About Movies: The thing about these animated movies is they are around forever, and twenty years from now they’ll be putting out a special, special edition!
Julie Andrews: When they are done as well as Shrek is done, it’s such a joy, because you know it’s going to be an iconic movie.
Wild About Movies: Is that part of the appeal for being in one of these?
Julie Andrews: Well it’s certainly – you’re very grateful I think. The quality of this third one is superb. It’s luminous and it’s pretty and I’m so pleased that everybody else picked up on it. Everybody in all my interviews yesterday, they were saying, (gasping) ‘It’s just – who knew that digital animation could go even further than it was.’
Wild About Movies: Has the process changed at all in the three films, or is it pretty much been the same, just a repeat each time?
Julie Andrews: Well, no, the actual work process doesn’t change, you go into a booth all by yourself, and you don’t meet your fellow actors, which is sad. It’s just the way animation is done. We do, thank God, all meet up later. Or when we travel somewhere together, we go on the flight together, or something like that.
Wild About Movies: But this being the third movie, you obviously both know your characters so well, can you suggest anything?
Julie Andrews: They are open to suggestion.
Wild About Movies: Do you believe in happily ever after or is that just a myth?
Julie Andrews: I do, I think I do, I think happily ever after probably comes from here first (pointing inside), and how much two people want to do happily ever after, depending as you say what it is. We’re both so blessed. How could it not be happily ever after?
Wild About Movies: Is there any frustration after you’ve done the recording and you see the movie, and it all works, but you know you could have done something else to make it work better?
Julie Andrews: Well, if they’re not quite satisfied with what you’ve done, you can go back in, or vice versa, you can say, ‘I’d love to try that again if I could.’ But they ask you to give so many variations on the same line. I don’t know how much you did, but with mom they weren’t sure with Harold and everything. And so we actually have no idea what it will be until you see it up there on the screen.
Wild About Movies: The death of the King is a really sensitive subject to have in a movie that 5 year olds are going to go see. Did they record it a lot of different ways because they weren’t necessarily sure?
Julie Andrews: Well, a lot of my ‘Harold’s’ they could have been a pleading or as – ‘Harold, get yourself together, or it could have been any of those, and they chose the one that’s in the movie right now. I don’t remember which version that was.
Wild About Movies: Are there a lot of hidden discoveries when you see it?
Julie Andrews: Oh yes, and that’s great fun. And some wonderful ah-ha moments, when you say, ‘I’m so glad they did that, because it makes her character feel better.’ Also in a regular movie, you are holding your character in a live action movie, you’re holding your character in your head the whole time. In this particular case I think the director is holding the characters in his head, so he just keeps asking you for this, or asking you for that, and obviously knows when he’s got it. And so the actual concern of where am I going and will this match with that, that part is taken away.
Wild About Movies: Who was your favorite fairytale princess?
Julie Andrews: I’m a huge ballet fan. For me, the loveliest princess is probably Sleeping Beauty because it’s such a glorious ballet and she’s such a nice princess. She’s generous and sweet and lovely.
Wild About Movies: As a classically trained actress, do you have misgivings about being in a movie that has fart jokes?
Julie Andrews: Are you kidding? I live with a guy that writes them all the time in his movies. (She is referring to her husband, the renowned director, Blake Edwards.)
Wild About Movies: What are you working on now?
Julie Andrews: You know I have a book imprint, publishing imprint of children’s books. I’ve been working very hard on that. I had a book just come out. No. 3. Not necessarily mine, but that I’ve been responsible for, coming out this year. Also, I’m working on my autobiography, which will come out next April. I’m on such a deadline. I feel slightly cross-eyed.
Wild About Movies: What’s it called?
Julie Andrews: I haven’t finally decided so I’m not going to tell you. I thought I had one, but then the publisher said, ‘It is a good title but we’ll see.
Wild About Movies: I know what it should be…
Julie Andrews: What?
Wild About Movies: My favorite things.
Julie Andrews: Aww.
Wild About Movies: Have they talked about making any of your children’s books into movies?
Julie Andrews: Yes. There’s a lot of talk going on about them. As a matter of fact, two of them are now being talked about as theater musicals. One of the little books is being done for children’s theaters all across the country, which is lovely, and we’re working on that—songs and script, which my daughter and I are writing.
Wild About Movies: Do you have summer plans?
Julie Andrews: I’ve been saying to Blake, can we just go away for a few weeks, because I’ve been so busy with my nose to the grindstone with the autobiography. As I said, I’m feeling slightly cross-eyed from concentrating.
Wild About Movies: You haven’t decided though?
Julie Andrews: No.
Wild About Movies: What was it that made you sure you wanted to do the biography? You said during Princess Diaries you weren’t sure about writing your autobiography?
Julie Andrews: I don’t know. The company that asked me, Hyperion, (a division of Walt Disney) sweetly and doggedly have been after me for about 10 years now, will you, will you, will you? And I finally said yes. I don’t know if I can, but I’ll try. They gave me a very small down payment and I’ve been trying to give it back to them ever since. But they won’t accept it back. So I guess I wasn’t very smart. Then, of course, deadlines kept going by so now it’s a question of OK. They did a very smart thing. You know I write with my daughter and they said to her will you keep your mother at it. Will you start interviewing her. So she’s been a tremendous help. She’s been helping me focus and does a lot of the research. You can’t imagine how much research there is. When you’re writing it, it’s like what was the theater where we rehearsed? I think it was that, but was it? Then you have to run the data. Did I send the dog home ahead of time or did I travel with it? I don’t’ remember.
Wild About Movies: Is there a deadline?
Julie Andrews: Yes. Like last week. It’s down to the wire.
Wild About Movies: Are you signed up for Shrek 4?
Julie Andrews: Oh, if they do it, you bet.