On the Eve of 'Sound of Music' Reunion, Julie Andrews Reveals "I Was a Very Sad Little Girl" driving herself and her manager to our meeting in her SUV (can you "I did all of my learning on My Fair Lady," she says, noting that at the . and shortly thereafter she began seeing Blake Edwards, a director. Think of their marriage as "Mary Poppins Meets Godzilla. Writer-producer- director Blake Edwards, Andrews' spouse since , is a out and about, letting one amorous beau out the back door while greeting another one at the front. Julie Andrews reveals how she met husband Blake Edwards But she is particularly pleased she did as she met Blake while travelling to one.
I thought not, but I will. Look, I wouldn't begin to knock the kind of success I had in The Sound of Music, because I think the film gave a tremendous amount of pleasure to an enormous number of people. But, yes, after a while, when you've done other things you think are fairly worthy and people mostly remember and love The Sound of Music, you say, "Oh, God, I wish I weren't so put in a box. Aside from the roles you've played, is it possible that there's something about your personality that convinces people you're nothing if not sweet, sweet, sweet?
Well, I think my Englishness or something intimidates people. I remember that when I was doing my television series inall the writers were sitting in front of me discussing how they could help my image. Now, there I was, doing a great musical hour with a wonderful orchestra, and yet it seemed I was still coming across a bit icy and a bit too polite. The writers told me they wanted to show people how I really am, so I thought about it for a second and said, "Well, I could ball the band.
Nobody thought that was funny at all- and I got so depressed about it, because if they didn't get it, then sure as hell, my show was absolutely doomed.
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Which turned out to be the case. Last year, in S. Did you think that S. Actually, I wondered if I would get a lot of hate mail from ardent fans who'd want to know how I could do such a thing.
In fact, the reaction was exactly opposite. Ladies would come up to me and say, "Congratulations! How did you feel about doing that scene?
Well, Blake had written the movie with me in mind a long time before he could get it made, so I think I probably had about eight years to prepare for that moment. I did have some fears and trepidations, but after a while, I just decided to go with it. God knows it was done in fun and with such good taste, and I also knew that if it didn't work, Blake probably wouldn't use it.
I knew I was safe with Blake. After that, my only worry was that I couldn't bring it off, so I added a few press-ups to my regimen every day, because if I was going to do it, I might as well make it look good.
She did make it look good. Did you have any qualms about asking your wife to appear topless in S. Maybe initially I did but I thought, Hey, that's what I want her character to do, so Julie had to make the adjustment.
I think that from now on, Julie will be more accepted as an actress, period. But I don't think she'll ever avoid hiding that quality of sweetness. I mean, if she plays a murderess, she'll be a sweet one. If we can return to love and lilacs for a moment, how soon after you met did you decide to work together? That's how we met.
But we were both involved with other people. I don't think either of us thought anything about the other at the time. Are you sure about that? You told me that when you saw me at a party, you thought I was terribly attractive. It was very surface. The real meeting and kind of getting to know each other and being turned on to each other, I guess, was when I went to see Julie about doing Darling Lili. Were both of you married at the time?
Bleeding form a lot of wounds.
- Just a spoonful of vitriol for Julie Andrews
And both feeling that we didn't want to get involved with anybody else. That was the last thing I was going to do, but suddenly this very attractive man walked into my house and pitched an idea to me, and I responded, and that's how Darling Lili came about. Did you respond to the idea or to a very attractive man? If we could just interrupt here: Blake, you went on to direct Julie in five movies, including "10", S.
Aside from the fact that she's your wife, why do you keep working with her? I just think she's enormously talented, much beyond the talent she perceives in herself. Julie's one of the better actresses in the business, and she has a wonderful instinct for what's appropriate, what's correct.
But I don't think she's even come close to her potential yet. And I don't mean just dramatically; she has a wonderful comedic quality that hasn't been fully tapped, either.
Dramatically, nobody's really explored what she can do. There were some moments that came close during her birth scene in Hawaii, for instance, but I have a feeling that as Julie gets a little older and starts getting into more character roles, her dramatic potential will be realized.
Do you agree, Julie? I'm just sitting her listening to the boss. I can answer that: No, she does not agree. Is that true, Julie? Well, it never occurred to me, but now that Blake mentions it, I guess it is. That seems to be a pattern in my life: Something happens, and then 1 get time to reflect on it and put it into some kind of perspective. Blake very lovingly just said some nice things, and I think I'll try to weigh and sift them and look at the film a couple of times, and maybe with time and distance, I will get some perspective on it.
Probably because it was a very difficult, multifaceted role. I mean, I'd sometimes be playing a woman trying to pretend to be a man, then sometimes play a man with a woman's feelings and sometimes just be straight on.
There were so many things to work out. As someone who likes to be in control, I felt wobbly. There was something else, too: When you get older, you kind of get on to yourself. You know the tricks you play to get by, and you like them less and less if you care about your work. I was trying hard to get away from them and was sometimes falling back, and so I wasn't as pleased as I'd like to have been with my performance.
Not that Blake didn't help me enormously and bring out something good; he did. But looking back on it now, I wish I'd had more time, done fewer tricks and said lines differently. As Blake told me, though, it's done, and let's put it to bed now. Isn't that the nature of movie acting? But she can't make peace with that, either. Andrews laughs and begins nervously wringing her hands I have never seen anything I've done that I wouldn't like to go back and do again.
I'm quite sure that if I were given that opportunity on a movie, it might be a little better in spots, but the same kind of thing would happen again because you can always find things you want to change. Beneath the comedy, however, it seemed to us that you were constantly forcing audiences to examine their feelings about homosexuality. Were you perhaps confronting your own sexuality as well, Blake?
Yeah, in some sense; sure I was. I think everybody goes though that; I don't know anyone who hasn't. Many years ago, when I began analysis. That sort of thing is operative in everybody. It's latent and it's there, to one degree or another, so why not deal with it? I mean, what's so terrible? You are what you are, and if it frightens you, deal with it. Do you think that people who've seen that film have drawn certain inferences about you?
Oh, I don't think so. I don't think the inferences have been drawn openly as yet, but if it happens, I won't be surprised, because homosexuality was also one of the themes I used in "10". In that movie, I took my first steps cinematically, in dealing with the homosexual problem, and I did it in a very minor way with the Robert Webber character.
In the background of this wonderfully funny, zany movie, you see a homosexual songwriter in torment because he is fighting with his young boyfriend, and later on, while talking to Dudley Moore, he breaks down on the phone. I was testing the water a little, and I made the songwriter a kind of macho combat-Marine character so that I could get away from stereotypes, and it was very acceptable.
Each of those movies-and S. Blake's premise in these is to do it comically, so it doesn't hit you right in the face. I don't know about that. I think a lot of my comedy can be compared to blind siding, which is a football term: A quarterback will be looking to throw a pass down field when all of a sudden, he'll get nailed by a tackler he hasn't seen. Suddenly, he's wiped out, and 1 think that's my job-to sort of blind-side people in order to shake them up and make them think.
I prefer to do it in the comedic arena, because it makes it more palatable and easier to digest. When you deliver a message very heavily, it becomes preachy and too many people just lock up. I much prefer to deliver a sermon through laughter. No, I'm too analytically trained to let that hang me up. I don't really remember what my fears or fantasies were when I started analysis, but they were scary, and I thought, Oh, my God, I'm a fag.
And little by little, I found out that I was a very normal human being who might have had some homosexual fantasies and who had had what would be considered-and I hesitate to use the term-homosexual childhood adventures. They were perfectly normal explorations that we all do with other kids, but a lot of people won't even admit that. Anyway, within a couple of months' time, I realized quite honestly- and with great relief-that I was not a homosexual. Not because I couldn't have dealt with it but because I preferred not to be a homosexual in this country, particularly then, when they were so discriminated against and when they were all in the closet, so to speak.
Anyway, after finding out I was very heterosexual, I said, "Terrific! I wasn't even consciously aware of all those fears before my first months of analysis but that kind of thing floats right to the surface. It did with me, too. In preparing for this interview, we were surprised to find how much sexual gossip there is about both of you. You've undoubtedly heard it; why do you think the rumors exist?
I think we can credit them to a miserable newspaperwoman-I won't dignify her by mentioning her name- who, shortly after Julie and I met, wrote something implying that Rock Hudson, Julie and I were a sexual threesome.
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She also implied that Rock and I had spent a lot of time together in San Francisco leather bars. We were shooting Darling Lili then, and I walked up to Rock and repeated the story to him, and I loved his response: Also, you know, Blake is married to a lady by the name of The Iron Butterfly.
The Nun with a Switchblade. I can only tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. And now I've become a champion of the homosexual cause, and it's true-and it's because I sit in group therapy and watch tortured intellectuals who've struggled all their lives with their homosexuality. When I hear the things that come out of these people and when I see what pious clergymen and fearful heterosexuals impose on them, I do want to speak out on their behalf.
Having said that, I also want to say I don't champion homosexuals any more than I champion blacks or any other discriminated-against minority. There's all forms of bigotry to deal with, and I think what Blake's been talking about is just part of a vast tapestry that you're seeing.
Blake just hasn't done it all yet. I love it anyway because if people are sniping about our sexuality, it's the very proof of what I say: They're so fearful of their own sexuality that they have to snipe at others'. I may in the past have sniped at other people because of such things as color or race; I don't know. But I've never sniped at anyone in terms of sexuality. Well, you weren't exactly throwing bouquets in S.
But at least you didn't spare yourself: The protagonist was a crazed film director dealing with an enormous flop-not unlike your own Darling Lili. Was that the truth? Of course it wasn't; I'm not a stupid movie maker. When we were ready to film Darling Lili. I was certainly production-wise enough to know it was impractical to consider a lengthy exterior shoot in Ireland.
It's not just that there isn't much sunshine there; you can shoot a movie in consistent bad weather, but you can't count on that in Ireland, either.
There are days when either it's pissing rain or you get intermittent sun; for the most part, Ireland's just a bad place to shoot a movie. I investigated that immediately and wanted to shoot the aircraft sequences in South Carolina, which can be made to look like German or French countryside; but Paramount stuck to its decision to shoot in Ireland, so off we went.
Well, the second unit ran millions of dollars over budget just waiting to get 'clear air' shots there. After that, I was under constant money pressure from the studio, but that wasn't nearly as hard to take as the rest of the stuff they did to me. What was the problem? People who were at Paramount at that time would say things to me and then deny they'd said them, and after a while, I began to doubt my own sanity.
It got so serious that I finally decided I'd never take a call from them or have a conversation of importance without recording it for my own benefit. Did you record everything? Oh, yes; I certainly did.
One time, the studio's Paris representative hired some French director to be in charge of our second unit and told me I'd authorized him to do that the night before. Well, I'd taped that conversation, and we'd never said a word about it. Another time, when we couldn't find an inn for some exterior shots and were running into bad weather again, I told Paramount to bring me home because I could save some money by building the goddamned thing in the studio.
It took me forever to finally convince them, and in the meantime, we just sat in Paris. Well, I started thinking that maybe Charles Bluhdorn-the head of Gulf Western, which had just bought Paramount-was getting bad information. I told him that when I had a dinner with him in Paris, and he said, 'There's only one thing that's important: If this film is a success, you're a hero.
If it isn't, you're finished. That was his answer- I've got it on tape. Did you go to that dinner with a tape recorder under your shirt? No, a friend of mine who was a ham-radio operator set up a whole taping operation in another room. Bluhdorn and I were in my hotel room, and when my friend turned on his equipment, it sucked up so much juice that while I was talking to Charlie, all the lights in the hotel went dim, as if somebody were being electrocuted.
I knew what had happened, and it was all I could do to keep from cracking up. It really sounds as if you'd already cracked up. Were you a little crazy at that point? I absolutely felt that I was - it go so bad that I became totally paranoid.
Julie thought I was going a little crazy, too. Considering Blake's behavior, did you think that life with him was going to be filled with those kinds of crises? I don't know what I thought, except that our life was rather crazy at that time. We had Blake's two kids and my kid, and we were trying to begin a relationship while also traveling and filming. I obviously realized what was happening to Blake and empathized, because I saw many instances of things that were stupid and unfair.
For example, Blake had wanted a couple of musical numbers in the film to show that Lili was an entertainer; that gave Paramount the notion to make the film into a big, big musical. And because we'd spent SO much money on those second units, the studio decided to leave in as much of the aerial footage as possible just to show the money that was spent.
By that, I mean Charlie Bluhdorn's giving directives and Bob Evans', who'd hardly made a movie before, being head of the studio. Did you feel an extra responsibility for suckering Julie into the picture? Sure, I felt very responsible. That part of it didn't bother me at all, it was sad and unfortunate that the movie wasn't successful, but in answer to your earlier question, what was going on with me was much more personal.
It was much more about Blake and me and the kids and how we were going to conduct our lives from then on. Before Darling Lili began filming, Blake and I had been maintaining separate houses, and then, on location, our families kind of moved together as a group.
We obviously lived together wherever we went, and in spite of all the problems we had quite a wonderful time in many ways.
In Ireland, we spent the summer living in a grand country house that was simply glorious especially for the kids, for it had all the duckies and piggies and horsies of childhood fantasies.
The grounds were magnificent the stables had wonderful horses and it was just a joy. When we came back to California, it would have been too painful and quite ridiculous to go back to our separate houses, so almost without saying too much about it, we just moved in together and kind of pooled our lives and our children. After Darling Lili, Julie, you didn't appear in another movie for four years. Was that because producers didn't want to take a chance on you after that fiasco, or did you decide to drop out for a while?
It was probably both. I think Blake still feels responsible for cooling off my career, but before Darling Lili, I'd made a film called Star! So it wasn't just Blake Edwards sending my career slightly downhill; Star! That was just before Easy Rider became a hit; little pictures became the thing to do and big-budget musicals were out.
I did get some offers, but because of my relationship with Blake and because of the family, going off on location and being away for a long time seemed very silly. I'd just gotten married, and instead of my having only my daughter, there were now three children to be looked after.
For me, it was a period of very hard work, though not necessarily in the movie industry. I made a very conscious decision to help us get organized as a family. Would you say you're less career oriented than most well known actresses?
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Oh, I don't think that's true. I am probably very career oriented. Your husband doesn't agree with you. It's very important to Julie, but I don't think she's obsessive about it, unlike most of the actresses we know. There are more important things to her.
Well, if you have a good thing going-like a happy marriage-and you're busy working at it and getting your kids settled and all that, it's foolish to go off and do a movie or spend a year on Broadway and ask the whole family to displace themselves. Shows you how career oriented she is. How career oriented are you? Not working would drive me crazy, but that's my own problem.
I don't think I could ever have been happy as an actor, because if I'm not working, I'm unhappy; it's that simple. I guess a director can be in the same position if he decides not to work until he finds the right script.
That would drive me crazy, too, because I have to keep going. The lucky part for me is that I can sit down and write, so I've always got something to turn to.
Although your wife backed off after Darling Lili, you immediately wrote and directed two more box-office turkeys. Wild Rovers and The Carey Treatment. By the time they were released, Julie wasn't the only member of the family with an image problem: You were said to be hooked on what Time has since called your "career-long addiction to anger.
Because, once again, my best efforts were destroyed by a man without credentials. I'd survived what was done to Darling Lili, but what happened to Wild Rovers really broke my heart, because that was the first time I began wanting to say something in the same way that "10," SOB.
Up until then, if somebody wanted a TV show about a slick private eye, I'd sit down and come up with a Peter Gunn or a Mr. And if somebody wanted a movie director whose work had a certain gloss anti sophistication, he'd get me to do films such as Breakfast at Tiffany's and Operation Petticoat. I'd never consciously tried to do or say anything different until I wrote this tragedy about two cowboys who stick up a bank and are eventually hunted down and shot to death.
William Holden and Ryan O'Neal played those roles, and we went out and made a very fine movie-and then James Aubrey, who'd just become head of MGM, personally destroyed it. Aubrey took about a two-and-a-half-hour film and cut out something like 40 minutes by changing the ending and a lot of the relationships.
Arthur thought it was the best thing I'd ever written. If Aubrey was so highhanded, why did you immediately direct another film for him? I was suckered into it, which wasn't hard for him to do, because at that point, I was back with the animals- I was really sick.
I was despondent, depressed and desperate to prove myself, to succeed. Right after Wild Rovers, Aubrey called me into his office and told me he hated a screenplay I'd written and refused to pay me the last monies due on it. I said, 'I'll tell you what I'll do: You don't have to pay me, but give me the script back," which he did. It wasn't such a brilliant move on Aubrey's part: The screenplay was eventually called " It seems to us that you owe him a debt of gratitude. Maybe I do now, but I didn't feel that way then.
Aubrey, who can be very charming when he wants to be, then took advantage of my insecurity. We have a property here by Michael Crichton called The Carey Treatment, and it's the kind of thing you do better than anybody else. We have to start shooting it immediately, and I'd like you to direct it. I started shooting The Carey Treatment-and then he simply reneged. It was an experience I'd rather really not even talk about. I have never seen The Carey Treatment.
I found out Aubrey was cutting the movie even before I finished shooting it. In spite of that, I was determined that if there were one thing I did, I'd complete the film, and I did. That was it for me: I decided I wasn't going to direct anymore. By then, I was afraid I was going crazy and trying desperately not to. Did you ever worry that Blake might go crazy, Julie? Yep, a couple of times. Thank God, he pulled out of it. He was explosive and deeply depressed, and at one point, I think he was virtually suicidal.
He was so angry, and suicide is mostly anger, anyway, it seems. The people in charge of The Carey Treatment were really ill, and their sickness reflected itself all over the place and Blake got caught in the middle of it-and it just brewed up into a whole pot of madness. But as bad as I felt, my anger kept me alive. Bill Holden, whom we miss so much, once told me an old Chinese saying-I think it's Chinese- that if you sit by the river long enough, you'll see the bodies of all your enemies float by.Julie Andrews From 9 to 82 Years Old - Life Of Julie Andrews -- Hide Photography
I lived for that for a long time. I knew I was getting healthy again only after I began to consider that there was probably someone downstream waiting for me to float by! Wasn't that when we conducted our grand and glorious experiment? We reversed roles, and the results were hilariously funny and revealing to both of us.
Why did you do the TV series? Were you eager to start performing again? I suppose I was. She had been conceived as the result of an extramarital affair, and met her biological father, she believes, only a handful of times — once when he gatecrashed the New York opening party of My Fair Lady.
From this problematic background would emerge a glimmer of greatness. Her mother was musical and her father Ted could dance, and it didn't take them long to spot that Julie possessed an astonishing talent. When she was 12, Ted Andrews landed her a guest spot at the London Hippodrome, and within a year she was a West End regular and the family's main breadwinner.
It is the school-of-hard-knocks upbringing that presents the real mystery; how did Julie ever make the big time playing fragile heroines with vowels of silver and hearts of gold? Could it be — as some have suggested — that the real significance of her oeuvre lies elsewhere? Peter Kemp, a writer on cultural studies at the University of Melbourne, argues that both Poppins and The Sound of Music should be seen as profound feminist epics: Mary Poppins turns the domestic universe of the Banks family completely upside down, functioning not so much in her appointed role as 'nanny' but more as a 'governess' in every sense of the word.
She genuinely, totally, governs, dispensing directives of delight, issuing Zen? By any standards, her London return will be a high-stakes venture, and one that, for all its daring, may require rather more than a little bit of luck. It was also the wisest. Poppins tartly sent him a purple bouquet, and the romance had begun. Their courtship and marriage have done little for their careers.
Their two TV specials got good reviews but so-so ratings. Julie says she is happy to devote herself less to Hollywood and more to home. Eventually Julie joined the act, and by age 12 she was a soloist, winning most of the family bread with her freakish, four-octave soprano range. When the chance came to do The Boy Friend on Broadway inshe took it—with reservations.
Triumph there at age 19 led to My Fair Lady and Camelot. And while Julie later and unfairly lost those movie roles, her stage performances so impressed Walt Disney that he signed her in for her first film, Mary Poppins. She kept in touch with Walton by exchanging tapes, though less and less enthusiastically.