Julie Andrews :: still filmdom’s fair lady
In coming face-to-face with Julie Andrews, the actress/singer/author lives up to any expectations that one might have about meeting her. She’s strikingly poised, friendly and seems generally happy to be in your company. Even before sitting down in front of a roomful of reporters at a recent press conference for the new family-oriented film Tooth Fairy, she first asks how everybody is doing before answering a single question. She’s also embarrassed when she verbalizes her concern that she’s hogging the chat time talking about her various film and literary projects. What maybe she doesn’t realize is that nobody cares about anyone else when Julie Andrews is in the room.
Thankfully to the legion of fans that have followed her career since she started performing at a young age, Andrews is not about to disappear from screen (or bookshelves) anytime soon. However, having been in the entertainment business since before her teen years, does she see herself as the cultural icon that most people do? "I’m flattered but I don’t believe it for a second. I’m flattered. People have been very, very kind. I don’t and neither do my kids."
While Andrews isn’t singing anymore, she’s still a strong presence in the film community and has kept very busy in the last decade with prominent roles in such films as the two Princess Diaries films and the animated Shrek films. While she admits she’s particular about the roles she chooses nowadays, she shared a certain criteria that helps her decide which is saying and it really depends on the script as much as anything else. This one really resonated and that’s what I’m trying to say. I think if one is fortunate enough to have a script slide across one’s desk these days, it’s about ’does it resonate?’ and ’can I help them do something with it?’
Hold onto your dreams
With her current project, The Tooth Fairy (in theaters), where she plays Lily, the head of the tooth fairies, Andrews was struck by the message of the script that resonated with her as both an actor and writer.
"The charm of the script the moment I read it was I immediately identified with some of the books I do attempt to write and I was thrilled because it has such an important message, it really is, that we should hold our dreams and always hold over them."
How did she like bossing around Dwayne Johnson’s Derek Johnson, who is enlisted to perform the duties of a Tooth Fairy for two weeks as a punishment for crushing the dreams of others? "I loved it! It’s very hard to tell this big guy off and the wings were a problem, too. I needed to brush up on that a bit and it took a bit of effort."
The message of the film is not only about sustaining children’s dreams but also to inspire them to go after what they want in life. Andrews shared a story about some of the people in her adolescence that helped inspire her when she was younger. "I had a wonderful tutor that traveled with me because I was very busy working as a child," she explained. "I loved to read and she introduced me to all the classics but my father was a teacher and he, at about age 9 or 10, took me into a bookstore and said, ’I’m going to buy you a book and here is what seems like a good one.’"
In fact, Andrews is responsible for keeping that same classic book that her father bought for her alive on the market so later generations can still enjoy it. "It’s a book that I have had the great fortune to republish and bring back to the public in America because it hasn’t been published in many, many years. If you think Watership Down but maybe even better, it’s a nature study and it’s called The Little Grey Men and it’s by an author who literally only signed his initials BB. That book has probably influenced my writing and set a standard for me probably because my Dad gave it to me, probably because it’s beautifully written. It’s a little classic."
Watch Julie Andrews recent appearance on The View.