Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards
A candid conversation with the showbiz couple, who together, or apart, gave us "Mary Poppins", "The Sound of Music", "The Pink Panther", "10", and "S.O.B.".
Think of their marriage as "Mary Poppins Meets Godzilla." For more than 20 years, Julie Andrews has been the stage and screen's unchallenged symbol of virginal innocence and vocal clarity. Charming though she may be, Andrews hasn't been a virgin for some time now, and in her husband's two most recent films, she has flashed her breasts ("SOB.") and gamboled in male drag ("Victor/Victoria"); but that still hasn't changed the way movie fans feel about her. Writer-producer-director Blake Edwards, Andrews' spouse since 1969, is a multimillionaire thanks to the past three Pink Panther films and '10' but for years, Hollywood placed him in cold storage, and while studio executives diddled, he burned. Still regarded as a glowering inferno, Edwards lived through a crushing period of failure after achieving a solid string of early successes. So did his wife.
Before the end of 1961, Andrews and Edwards had both become major forces in the movie business. To be sure, Andrews' star shone more brightly. Born in Walton-on-Thames, England, in 1935, Andrews had the range of a coloratura soprano when she was 12, at which point she became a child star. For the next six years, she sang her adult-sized larynx hoarse as a full-time trouper on the English music-hall circuit. Soon after turning 18, she was hired to star in the New York production of "The Boy Friend," and two years later, in 1956, she and Rex Harrison stood Broadway on its ear when they opened in "My Fair Lady." After a long run in that show, Andrews starred opposite Richard Burton in "Camelot," and if critics didn't admire it quite as much as "My Fair Lady," no one doubted that the show's Guinevere had also become the queen of Broadway musicals and although Audrey Hepburn was later chosen to play Eliza Doolittle in the movie version of "My Fair Lady," Andrews had the last: in 1964, her performance in "Mary Poppins," her first movie, beat out Hepburn's for the Academy Award as best Actress. Two other Andrews movies were released within six months: "The Americanization of Emily," a strong, memorable antiwar film and now something of an underground classic; and "The Sound of Music," a sugary but magical musical that, until the early Seventies, was the biggest money-maker in motion-picture history. No screen neophyte has ever racked up that kind of first year.
Edwards also hit it big in 1961 when he wrote and directed "The Pink Panther" and "A Shot in The Dark," both of which starred the late Peter Sellers. To borrow a word from the immortally inept inspector Clouseau, before Edwards "bumped" into Sellers, he'd already established himself as one of Hollywood's biggest and most versatile writer-directors. Born in 1922, Edwards is the son of Jack McEdwards, an assistant director at 20th Century-Fox. Edwards broke into movies as an actor when his father helped him land a small role in a 1942 Fox production, "Ten Gentlemen from West Point." Fox promptly signed him to a $150-a-week con tract, and over the next several years, he appeared in almost two dozen movies. He was more interested in writing, however, and before he was 30, he'd created the "Richard Diamond" radio series for Dick Powell in the Fifties, Edwards went on to originate two of TV's more memorable private-eye series, "Peter Gunn" and "Mr. Lucky," and by then, he'd also written a number of B movies for Columbia. In 1955, he became hooked on directing, and by 1959, he'd been the writer-director of such films as "Mister Cory" and "This Happy Feeling." At that point, he was hired to direct Cary Grant in "Operation Petticoat," a successful comedy that proved he could handle top talent. Edwards was suddenly a hot commodity. After directing Audrey Hepburn in' "Breakfast at Tiffany's," he threw Hollywood a curve by directing "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Experiment in Terror," after which he emerged front and center with "The Pink Panther" and "A Shot in the Dark."
Thus, at the start of 1965, Edwards found himself being asked to direct virtually every film comedy about to be produced. At the same time, Andrews was in the process of displacing Doris Day as America's favorite female star. Hollywood was, indeed, theirs for the asking-but not, as it turned out, for the taking. In the next four years, Edwards and Andrews encountered a string of separate disasters that sliced their careers to ribbons, in spite of her having given a decent dramatic account of herself in "Hawaii," Andrews appeared in three turkeys: "Torn Curtain," "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and "Star!" Edwards was also busy compiling a list of losers: "The Great Race," "What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?" "Gunn" and "The Party" all dropped dead at the box office. In addition to suffering simultaneous career setbacks, Andrews and Edwards underwent personal reversals about the same time. In 1968, Andrews' nine-year marriage to British set designer Tony Walton ended in divorce, as did Edwards' 11-year marriage to former actress Patricia Walker. Soon afterward, Andrews and Edwards met, fell in love and began working together on "Darling Lili," the most ambitious and expensive movie musical ever produced by Paramount Pictures. A colossal dud, "Darling Lili" almost bankrupted the studio. Edwards didn't score another triumph until "The Return of the Pink Panther" in 1975; Andrews didn't re-establish herself until her 1981 appearance in "S.O.B." "Victor/ Victoria," last spring, was the first movie triumph they'd shared in a number of attempts that date back to the end of the Sixties. For both of them, it's been a long and rocky road back to the top.
To interview the couple, Playboy assigned Lawrence Linderman to track them down during a recent visit they made to the West Coast.
His report: "Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards left California ten years ago, but both are now obliged to spend a few months each year doing business in Hollywood. On such occasions, they stay at a huge Beverly Hills estate, and it was there that I went to interview them. "I met Edwards first and found him as intense and tenacious as advertised. The 60-year-old filmmaker has the energy of someone half his age. An animated man, he has a thick shock of gray hair, never goes anywhere without his prescription sunglasses and is surprisingly fit. When he was 19, he broke his neck diving into the shallow end of a Beverly Hills swimming pool; after he recuperated, he became a body builder, and he still works out daily. "Andrews is as shy as her husband is aggressive. Before the tape recorder went on, she spent our first couple of meetings quietly sizing me up and letting Edwards do most of the talking. When she finally felt comfortable, she revealed herself to be a perceptive, captivating woman who possesses a robust sense of humor and-no surprise-the sunniest of dispositions. She's also gentle, graceful and very, very sensuous. Paul Newman calls her 'the last of the really great broads,' and Richard Burton said, 'Every man falls a little bit in love with Julie.' I kind of liked her myself. "In any event, when the three of us sat down to begin the interview, I remembered hearing a story about how Andrews and Edwards had first got together. It seemed like an appropriate way to get things rolling."
"I thought it was quite possible I'd play governesses for the rest of my life."
PLAYBOY: Since you're obviously that rare thing-a happy show-business couple- why don't we start by getting you to go for each other's throats? Blake, didn't you once make a particularly scurrilous remark about Julie's image-and wasn't that the reason you two met?
ANDREWS: Which scurrilous line of Blake's are you referring to? There are so many!
PLAYBOY: Something to do with violets?
ANDREWS: Wrong, all wrong. Lilacs! You'd better get into that one, Blake.
EDWARDS: Well, it all started one night when I went to a party -------
ANDREWS: Long before you knew me.
EDWARDS: Right. I hadn't met Julie yet, and at this party, there was a discussion about people who suddenly were catapulted into stardom and the reasons for it. When Julie's name was mentioned, I said something that leveled the whole room, and the next day, I got a call from Joan Crawford, who hadn't been at the party-and whom I'd never met-telling me it was the funniest line she'd ever heard. People had been conjecturing on and on about what made Julie successful, and at just the right moment, I said, "I can tell you exactly what it is. She has lilacs for pubic hair." After the laughter subsided, Stan Kamen, an agent with William Morris, said, "With your luck, you'll wind up marrying her." And with my luck, I did!
ANDREWS: We started going together about six weeks after that, when Blake had just moved into a bachelor house.
EDWARDS: Yes, and she gave me a housewarming present - incredibly enough, a lilac plant.
ANDREWS: I had bought three beautiful lilac bushes, you see, and I thought it would be a lovely thing for Blake to have, so I asked him if he'd like one for his new house. He said, "Aw, come on, don't do that to me." I asked him what he meant, and he said, "Who put you up to this? How did you find out?" I had no idea what he was talking about. Still disbelieving, Blake said, "Well, I may be making a complete fool of myself, but I'm going to tell you what happened." So he told me, and of course, I concurred; it's absolutely true.
EDWARDS: And now I get lilacs every anniversary.
ANDREWS: In every way, shape and form, don't you, Blake?
EDWARDS: Yes, dear.
PLAYBOY: It seems to us that Blake's comment succinctly summed up your public image, Julie. Why do you think you've always been perceived as prim, proper and pristine?
ANDREWS: Probably because I played governesses in Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. At that point, I thought it was quite possible I'd play governesses for the rest of my life. In fact, there was a rumor that I was being considered for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, another sort of governess film. I put a stop to that kind of talk as quickly as possible. Fool that I was, it won Maggie Smith an Academy Award.
PLAYBOY: But does that fully explain it? Between those two movies, you did, after all, play a World War Two Wren who has a love affair with James Garner in The Americanization of Emily.
ANDREWS: Yes, and it was a good and different role. I played a young lady who'd been married very briefly to a guy who went off and was killed in the war. After that, she slept around a lot, because the death of her husband had left her too frightened to commit to a relationship for any length of time. I wanted to do as many varied roles as possible, and I thought that was a nice beginning. But the fact is, one is always best remembered for the role that has been most successful, and those are the roles that bracket you. I guess no matter what you do, people will always think of that; but there are advantages to it.
PLAYBOY: Such as?
ANDREWS: When you've had a tremendous hit, like The Sound of Music, you'd be surprised how long it can carry you. I mean, you can make several flops, but people will remember only your most successful film. For instance, when you think of Clark Gable, what do you remember? Most people think of Gone with the Wind-that was the film of his career. If I meet people on the street today, they still talk about The Sound of Music. So a flop may be news at the moment, but it doesn't have the enduring quality of a hit.
PLAYBOY: Gable no doubt enjoyed being thought of as Rhett Butler. Do you enjoy having people think you still go through the countryside singing the entire score of The Sound of Music?
ANDREWS: I almost dread telling you this story, but they may not be completely wrong. About five years ago, I decided to get back into action, and I signed to do a series of concerts that would begin at the London Palladium-and that's like going into the jaws of a lion, because it's home. The truth is, singing has never come easily to me. When I've not sung for a while, my voice is like a rusty engine-it really squeaks and groans-and I have to practice and get in good physical shape beginning six or eight weeks ahead of time, almost like a prize fighter. I once asked Streisand how she does it, and she said, "Oh, shit, I never practice." She can just open her mouth and sing any time she wants to, but I can't.The point of all this is that in order to get ready for those concerts, I began tearing around the Swiss Alps every day, running up and down the hills near our home. And once in a while, while taking a breather, I'd test my progress by vocalizing. Well, one day I came over the crest of a hill singing something from The Sound of Music-and there before me was a bunch of tourists, all staring at me with startled looks on their faces. I know they recognized me, and I'm sure they thought that's what I did all the time-Maria von Trapp forever! I haven't answered your question, have I?
PLAYBOY: Not quite.
ANDREWS: 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."
PLAYBOY: 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?
ANDREWS: Well, I think my Englishness or something intimidates people. I remember that when I was doing my television series in 1972, all 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." And there was this awful silence. 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. Which turned out to be the case.
PLAYBOY: Last year, in S.O.B., Blake's venomous send-up of the film business, you portrayed an actress whose career as American's G-rated sweetheart was modeled very closely on your own. Did you think that S.O.B.'s most-talked-about moment - the scene in which you appear topless - would finally shatter your Goody Two - shoes reputation?
ANDREWS: 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!" and "Right on!"
PLAYBOY: How did you feel about doing that scene?
ANDREWS: 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.
EDWARDS: She did make it look good. After S.O.B., was released, newspapers in England began running stories saying that Julie had had a boob job.
PLAYBOY: Did you have any qualms about asking your wife to appear topless in S.O.B.?
EDWARDS: Maybe initially I did but I thought, Hey, that's what I want her character to do, so Julie had to make the adjustment. Beyond that, I think her work in SOB and in Victor/ Victoria will at least change that governess image we've been talking about. 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.
PLAYBOY: If we can return to love and lilacs for a moment, how soon after you met did you decide to work together?
EDWARDS: That's how we met. We'd seen each other socially at a few parties and had had a couple of brief conversations -
ANDREWS: But we were both involved with other people. I don't think either of us thought anything about the other at the time.
EDWARDS: Are you sure about that? You told me that when you saw me at a party, you thought I was terribly attractive.
ANDREWS: Well, you were! Are! Were!
EDWARDS: 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.
PLAYBOY: Were both of you married at the time?
ANDREWS: We were both separated, both -
EDWARDS: Bleeding form a lot of wounds.
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.
EDWARDS: I've always wondered. Did you respond to the idea or to a very attractive man?
ANDREWS: I'll never tell.
PLAYBOY: If we could just interrupt here: Blake, you went on to direct Julie in five movies, including "10", S.O.B., and Victor / Victoria. Aside from the fact that she's your wife, why do you keep working with her?
EDWARDS: 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.
PLAYBOY: Do you agree, Julie?
ANDREWS: I'm just sitting her listening to the boss.
EDWARDS: I can answer that: No, she does not agree. I mean, Victor/ Victoria is the best thing she's done for me, and as far as Julie is concerned, it's the film she's most confused by and least satisfied with. Julie really doesn't have a clear picture of not only what she did but how she did it. At this point, it's an enigma to her. The only thing that gives her some perspective on it is the number of people she trusts who say she was sensational in the movie.
PLAYBOY: Is that true, Julie?
ANDREWS: 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. I know that so many people do seem to like Victor/ Victoria, yet I know how insecure I felt on the film. 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.
PLAYBOY: Blake also said that Victor/Victoria was your least satisfying movie performance. Why?
ANDREWS: 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.
PLAYBOY: Isn't that the nature of movie acting?|
ANDREWS: I'm sure it is -
EDWARDS: 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.
PLAYBOY: Since we're on the subject, Victor / Victoria was ostensibly a farce in which a starving opera singer in Paris disguises herself as a man in order to work as a female impersonator at a gay night club. 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?
EDWARDS: 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. the first thing I contended with was my own great fear of being a homosexual. 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.
PLAYBOY: Do you think that people who've seen that film have drawn certain inferences about you?
ANDREWS: Oh, I don't think so.
EDWARDS: Oh, I do. 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. In Victor/ Victoria, 1 took a broader step.
ANDREWS: Each of those movies-and S.O.B. as well-deals with very serious subjects but always in comedic terms. "10" is about middle-age menopause, yet it's done so humorously, I don't even know if the public is aware of it. SOB. is a rather scathing look at the movie business, but it is handled in a funny way, as is true of Victor / Victoria. Blake's premise in these is to do it comically, so it doesn't hit you right in the face.
EDWARDS: 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.
PLAYBOY: After doing "10" and Victor/ Victoria, were you at all worried that people would start whispering that Blake Edwards was coming out of the closet?
EDWARDS: 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!" And I went on with my life. 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.
ANDREWS: It did with me, too. And you discover that almost everybody has the same sort of feelings, and the relief you get is one of the joys of analysis
PLAYBOY: 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?
"Blake is married to a lady by the name of The Iron Butterfly."
EDWARDS: 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. 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: "How in the hell did she find out so quick?"
ANDREWS: Also, you know, Blake is married to a lady by the name of The Iron Butterfly. The Nun with a Switchblade.
EDWARDS: 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.
ANDREWS: 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.
EDWARDS: 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.
PLAYBOY: Well, you weren't exactly throwing bouquets in S.O.B. when you depicted a Hollywood agent as a lesbian and the head of a studio as a transvestite. 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. Paramount Pictures lost nearly $20,000,000 on the 1970 release and afterward blamed you for running up the budget extravagantly. Was that the truth?
EDWARDS: 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.
PLAYBOY: What was the problem?
EDWARDS: 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.
PLAYBOY: Did you record everything?
EDWARDS: 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.
PLAYBOY: Undoubtedly. Did you go to that dinner with a tape recorder under your shirt?
EDWARDS: 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.
PLAYBOY: It really sounds as if you'd already cracked up. Were you a little crazy at that point?
EDWARDS: I absolutely felt that I was - it go so bad that I became totally paranoid. Julie thought I was going a little crazy, too.
PLAYBOY: Considering Blake's behavior, did you think that life with him was going to be filled with those kinds of crises?
ANDREWS: 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.
EDWARDS: 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. So stupid! that film was a product of people's taking over a motion-picture company without having any credentials at all. By that, I mean Charlie Bluhdorn's giving directives and Bob Evans', who'd hardly made a movie before, being head of the studio.
PLAYBOY: Did you feel an extra responsibility for suckering Julie into the picture?
EDWARDS: Sure, I felt very responsible.
ANDREWS: 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.
PLAYBOY: 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?
ANDREWS: 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! about the life of Gertrude Lawrence, and that had been a huge failure. So it wasn't just Blake Edwards sending my career slightly downhill; Star! had already contributed mightily to that, and Darling Lili merely compounded it. 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.
PLAYBOY: Would you say you're less career oriented than most well known actresses?
ANDREWS: Oh, I don't think that's true. I am probably very career oriented. [Edwards shakes his head no]
PLAYBOY: Your husband doesn't agree with you.
ANDREWS: Doesn't he?
EDWARDS: 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.
ANDREWS: 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.
EDWARDS: There's your answer. Shows you how career oriented she is.
PLAYBOY: How career oriented are you?
EDWARDS: 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.
PLAYBOY: 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." Why all the fury?
EDWARDS: 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. and Victor/Victoria would all become personal statements. 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. Lucky. 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. 'The sad part of the whole thing was that we all enjoyed making it, and I'd become convinced that I was back on the road to having autonomy on my films and to making good money again. The only people who've ever seen my version of Wild Rovers are students in Arthur Knight's class at USC. Arthur thought it was the best thing I'd ever written.
PLAYBOY: If Aubrey was so highhanded, why did you immediately direct another film for him?
EDWARDS: 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 "10."
PLAYBOY: It seems to us that you owe him a debt of gratitude.
EDWARDS: 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. He said, "Look, I might have been wrong about Wild Rovers, and I want to make it up to you. 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." Well, I read the screenplay and said I'd do it only if I could make certain changes. Aubrey agreed. 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.
PLAYBOY: Did you ever worry that Blake might go crazy, Julie?
ANDREWS: 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.
EDWARDS: 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. 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!
ANDREWS: Wasn't that when we conducted our grand and glorious experiment? [Edwards nods] Right after The Carey Treatment, Blake stayed home to write and I started my TV series. We reversed roles, and the results were hilariously funny and revealing to both of us.
PLAYBOY: Why did you do the TV series? Were you eager to start performing again?
ANDREWS: I suppose I was. I never really thought I'd retired, and whenever I saw something great, I'd become a little envious and would wish I'd been part of it- you always feel that way when you see something good. Meanwhile, for about two years, I'd been asked off and on to do a television series, and I'd always pushed it away and pushed it away. Finally, Blake and I discussed it and he said, "Look, all I'd like to do for a while is write. You do the series and I'll stay home and take care of the kids and run the house. It's about time you got back in the harness again." The children were now a little older, the family was running smoothly and all indications were that it would work out.
EDWARDS: We also had to face the fact that Lord Grade-lie was Sir Lew Grade then-had made an offer that was very difficult to refuse. If it had just been a TV series, Julie wouldn't have done it, but there were films involved, too.
ANDREWS: That really did make it hard to turn down, and, as I've already said, there wasn't that much on the horizon in terms of films for me. So I went to work every day, and Blake stayed home and took care of the family, and we both gained amazing insights into each other's lives. I'd come back from the show bushed and exhausted, and Blake would want to tell me what the kids had done, and I'd say, "Listen, I've had a rough day-I don't want to hear about the kids." The other side of it was that I got wildly anxious about being a mother only on weekends. I'd remind Blake that the kids had to go to the dentist, and he'd tell me, "Relax, it's all taken care of." I began feeling that he'd replaced me and that the thing I'd been doing for the last couple of years was no longer valid; I was just someone who went to work. It's amazing how much a woman feels she's sort of the mainstay of the family situation.
PLAYBOY: What did you discover as a househusband, Blake?
EDWARDS: Profound respect for mother-hood and a woman's place in the home- and in the beginning, I hated it. I felt emasculated and alienated, but after a while, I became objective about the situation and saw what women have gone through for centuries and how unfair a lot of it is.
ANDREWS: I must say the house has never been better run.
EDWARDS: Yeah, but that's like a man's doing some cooking at home-he can do a great job because he knows it isn't something he's got to do every night. If he wants to cook, terrific; it can be a great escape as long as it doesn't become drudgery. You can be very creative if you know that sooner or later, that job is going to end. So I was a terrific head of the family.
ANDREWS: And I have never been so happy as when we got back into the regular run of things. Like Blake, I felt alienated, and I'd also miscalculated about the work. When I accepted the contract, I thought my life would be 60 percent work and 40 percent pleasure and-play time that I could contribute to the family. Once I began the show, it took up 98 percent of my time.
PLAYBOY: After ABC didn't renew The Julie Andrews Hour, you left Hollywood-permanently, as it's turned out- and moved to England. Whose decision was it to pack up and leave?
EDWARDS: That isn't really what happened. A lot of people characterize our leaving Hollywood and going to London as running away from this town, and it's not trite at all. Julie's contract with Grade called for her to do a TV show here for a year, and after that, it called for a certain number of TV shows and films to be done in London, which is where his business is. We went there so she could comply with that contract. As far as I was concerned, of course, getting away from Hollywood was the best thing that could possibly happen. The only bad part for me was leaving my analyst; I knew that if I didn't get myself together, I might have to come back. I was still like a diabetic who needed his insulin every day.
PLAYBOY: After you got to London, how long did it take before you pulled out of this championship depression?
EDWARDS: It took a while, but I started feeling better as soon as we got there. I directed a couple of Julie's TV shows, wrote some and had a great time doing it. It was a good change of pace for me.
PLAYBOY: Soon after you arrived there, you directed Julie and Omar Sharif in The Tamarind Seed, a spy drama. Why that film?
ANDREWS: Can I answer that for you, Blake? I think it was because it was there.
EDWARDS: The Tamarind Seed was one of the things Grade wanted Julie to do, and when she signed her contract, I think it was naturally assumed that I'd direct it. It was a job, and I was delighted to have it.
PLAYBOY: Were you delighted with the results?
ANDREWS: I was. It's a good film, and I think it was one of the best editing jobs Blake's ever done. The Tamarind Seed was a very intricate, complicated cobweb of intrigue, and it took a lot of planning. It was a picture that demanded the audience to think; they couldn't just sit back and let it wash over them.
EDWARDS: I was disappointed not with the movie but with the way it was advertised and distributed. I wasn't angry about it, though. Lew had been running a television organization and was unfamiliar with the motion-picture business, and he let other people handle it and preferred not to listen to him. It was his prerogative; he put the money up. And at that time, I wasn't terribly successful, and I don't think he had a great deal of confidence in me. Aside from that, I felt much better and healthier about things after making that movie.
PLAYBOY: When it was released, The Tamarind Seed turned out to be still another box-office blot on your careers. Was that the reason you didn't make another film for five years, Julie?
ANDREWS: No, and I didn't intend to take another sabbatical at that time. We were, in fact, planning to do a movie called Rachel, which was going to be a remake of Rachel and the Stranger, a lovely late-Forties film that had starred Loretta Young. We were then living in a house in London that had six floors. We had a complete production office in the basement; we had secretaries, chauffeurs, maids and cooks-and I very distinctly remember there came a day when there was such madness going on that I turned to Blake and said, "I want out! We have to call a halt to this! I can't handle it!" There was too much pressure too much going on for me. We had already bought a house in Switzerland, but we hadn't really decided where our base would be, and I suggested that for my sake we make it Switzerland. Rather unwillingly, Blake agreed, probably because I'd had one of my few moments of great hysteria.
PLAYBOY: It's nice to hear you're capable of that, Julie, because until the time you left the U.S., you always maintained that you'd never really lost your temper.
ANDREWS: [Laughs] Bullshit.
EDWARDS: She said she's never lost her temper?
ANDREWS: Well, maybe I hadn't then; I certainly have since.
EDWARDS: Maybe she really hasn't lost it, because I have yet to see it. Hmmm; I can think of a couple of cases, butt Julie doesn't usually lose her temper. She's the most amazing person that way. Unlike me.
ANDREWS: [Teasing him] Makes you sick, doesn't it, darling?
EDWARDS: [Defensively] No, it doesn't make me sick, it makes me . . .I'm in awe of . . .
ANDREWS: I guess you do enough for both of us, sweetheart.
EDWARDS: Well, that's possible but I have certainly encouraged you to show your feelings more.
ANDREWS: Yeah, he has.
EDWARDS: I've seen her go a couple of times. it's very educational.
PLAYBOY: Is she in your league?
EDWARDS: In my league? Very few people are in my league. Rasputin, Hitler-they were in my league.
ANDREWS: I'm glad he said that.
PLAYBOY: The Stories about your temper. Then, aren't exaggerated?
EDWARDS: Oh, I'm very explosive and intimidating; just ask my kids. And I struggle against it.
PLAYBOY: Does Julie act as a buffer to keep you from blowing up?
EDWARDS: More like a governor.
PLAYBOY: Governor, governess - Julie really can't get away from being Mary Poppins.
EDWARDS: No, no, not in that sense of the word. I mean it in the mechanical sense, the way you'd put a governor on an automobile engine. If you live with a person who has the control and the understanding Julie has, it's very hard to blow up all the time. If I did, we wouldn't survive together-and that would be such an indictment of me that I couldn't tolerate it. Julie's been a deterrent to my temper just by being who she is. That doesn't mean I don't blow up; I do, but much less than I used to.
PLAYBOY: Did moving to Switzerland help you?
EDWARDS: Yeah, though I resisted going at first, and I think on some pretty good grounds. Instinctively, I felt that Julie was right, but I also had to tell her, "Listen, you're fantasizing that little Swiss village. It's not going to work unless we clean up whatever prompts us to live in this mad way. Otherwise, we'll just take the madness into Gstaad." In my view, that's exactly what we did for a while.
ANDREWS: It was terrible in the beginning. Blake exploded, my daughter got mononucleosis, Blake's son, Geoff, resisted the governess like you couldn't believe and I was utterly miserable, because my idea to stand still and be quiet for a bit just fell to pieces. But when you move away to a quiet spot, people don't come to visit as often, the phone doesn't ring quite so much, things calm down and you learn to live with yourself. Switzerland was just what we needed, because it provided a kind of sanity for us. You start by saying, "Jesus, what am I going to do with myself now that I'm here? There's nothing to do."
EDWARDS: And then you have to come to terms with yourself, because that's all there is. And you talk and you have to communicate. If Julie asked me why I was so upset, I couldn't very well say, "Well, I had a fucking hard day at the office," because I wasn't at the office. I was home all day.
ANDREWS: That's when I noticed that when things are toughest for Blake, he will just disappear and write. It's a wonderful avenue of escape: He doesn't have to deal with reality; he can go off and write, and out of it will come one of his creative things. Not too long after we moved to Gstaad, Blake disappeared into his room and wrote S.O.B. and Victor/Victoria.
PLAYBOY: Were you thinking that Tamarind Seed might have been the last film you'd direct and that from then on, you'd be only a writer?
EDWARDS: No. I was hoping something else would come along, and lo and behold, it did: The Return of the Pink Panther.
PLAYBOY: After the first two Pink Panther films came out in 1964, didn't you say you'd never make another movie with Peter Sellers?
EDWARDS: Right, but we overcame that a few years later, when I directed him in The Party, so even though I knew his potential for making trouble, our last experience had been a good one. Peter's career had been at a low ebb then, and it was still in bad shape when we started The Return of the Pink Panther, and at those times, he'd be cooperative and wonderful to work with. That's the way he was on the first one we made.
PLAYBOY: When you started shooting The Pink Panther, did you have any idea that you'd stumbled onto a gold mine?
EDWARDS: No, I just thought I had a good fun film, and we had a lot of fun making it. I had Sellers for only four or five weeks, and he was terrific. But within Peter, you really never knew what you were getting into. We came right back with A Shot in the Dark, and things were fine for the first half of filming, but then the shit hit the fan.
PLAYBOY: In what sense?
EDWARDS: Sellers became a monster. He just got bored with the part and became angry, sullen and unprofessional. He wouldn't show up for work and he began looking for anyone and everyone to blame, never for a moment stopping to see whether or not he should blame himself.
PLAYBOY: Blame himself for what?
EDWARDS: For his own madness, his own craziness. He worried about everything. There wasn't a movie Sellers made, except maybe for Being There-and I don't know about that one because I wasn't present-that he didn't think was a total disaster by the time it was finished. He'd want to buy it and chuck it out.
PLAYBOY: Given the head trips many actors fall victim to, did you find that unusual?
EDWARDS: To be as paranoid as he was? Yeah. In spite of that, I still wanted Peter for The Return of the Pink Panther, and I had high hopes for the movie. I'd been trying to resurrect the Panther for years, but it was a Mirisch Company- United Artists property and the studio had to be talked into doing it-they weren't interested. So I approached Lew Grade with the idea, and he wanted to do it as a television series. That was all right with me, and Peter also agreed, probably because his career was at an ebb again. Being essentially a film person, as soon as I started writing the first script, I started trying to talk Lew into doing it as a movie. At first, he absolutely and totally refused, but then he finally got around to saying. "Well, how much is it going to cost me?" I've always been a gambler and I'd always put my money where my mouth was, so I said, "Lew, I won't take a nickel, and I've talked to Peter and he won't take a nickel. All we each want is expenses and ten percent of the gross from the first dollar on." Lew gave it to us, and therein lies the secret of my wealth. The Return of the Pink Panther was a huge success, and we got very rich. We made the first one for about $3,000,000 and it grossed about $33,000,000, so you're talking about a profit of approximately $30,000,000.
PLAYBOY: No creative studio bookkeeping or phantom overhead charges that movie makers always complain about?
EDWARDS: We didn't have any of that. Lew made a wonderful deal with United Artists: UA had no confidence in the picture, so all it wanted to distribute it was five percent of the profits. After it released the movie, it just took off, and from then on, UA decided that the Pink Panther was important. The studio allowed Grade back into the next one, but after that, the Pink Panther became entirely a UA project. The Pink Panther Strikes Again grossed $10,000,000- $ 15,000,000 more than The Return of the Pink Panther, and at that point, I wanted no more of Inspector Clouseau.
PLAYBOY: If you feel that way, why did you make Revenge of the Pink Panther?
EDWARDS: Sheer greed; it was a very calculating move. I understood it was going to be the last one, no matter what happened, and the deal UA offered me to do the third film was so much beyond the two others that I thought, One more, and I'll be able to put enough away so that I'll never have to work again. I wasn't wrong about that, either.
PLAYBOY: Were there any major differences between the two Panther movies of 1964 and the three made in the late Seventies?
EDWARDS: Yeah, we got more and more away from Clouseau's character involvements and we put in more and more physical comedy so that we could use doubles for Peter.
PLAYBOY: Why did you do that?
EDWARDS: I had to. With each film, Sellers cooperated less and got stranger and madder. And the sicker he got-and his illness had a lot to do with it-the less he was able to function. I mean, Sellers was a pretty strange gentleman to begin with, but that awful heart he had apparently affected his memory: If you gave him any kind of intricate physical moves in scenes in which he also had lines, he became literally incapable of doing both. I remember a scene in Revenge of the Pink Panther in which I started rehearsing him on all kinds of funny moves that would have just been par for the course in the early Pink Panther movies; there was absolutely no way he was able to do it, so I stuck him up against a fireplace and kept his moves to a minimum. Under normal conditions, that scene would have taken no more than the morning and possibly part of the afternoon to shoot. It ended up taking about two and a half days.
PLAYBOY: Did Sellers' deteriorating health necessitate a lot of on-the-spot rewriting?
EDWARDS: That really happened on the last movie we did. Peter just couldn't do a sequence all of us still consider to be, on paper, the funniest scene ever written for any of the Panthers. Clouseau and his Oriental manservant, Cato, were to go into a black night chub dressed according to their own concept of what a couple of sharp black dudes should look like-we gave them Afros and the most outrageous outfits you've ever seen. Peter was then supposed to come out with a lot of what Clouseau thought was very hip black street lingo and, of course, screw it all up. Peter absolutely couldn't get it. That made him very angry and resulted in a very unpleasant day on the set. About two o'clock in the morning, though, Peter telephoned me, as was his way, to say, "Don't worry about tomorrow. I know how to do it." I told him that was terrific news and asked what he was going to do. Peter said, "1 want to surprise you, but don't worry, I've talked to God, and He told me how to do it."
PLAYBOY: Was Sellers kidding?
EDWARDS: That depends on whether or not you think he talked to god. 'The next morning, he came in and wanted to do the scene immediately. We still had some work to do with the cameras, but Peter said, "Leave things as they are and just roll it." I said OK, and Peter made his entrance at the top of some stairs-and it was perfectly obvious that he didn't have anything planned. He just believed that by some miracle he'd do something brilliant, but what he did was awful. Afterward, I said, "Do me a favor, Peter. In the future, tell God to stay out of show business.' I did it as a joke, but it didn't work. Peter drifted off into such a depressed, morose state that you could hardly hear him when he performed, and his whole physical being seemed to wither. We had to cut the entire sequence and replace it with a new one, which was a physical sequence in which we used a double. It was very sad.
PLAYBOY: What you're describing is a dying man. Were you surprised that after Revenge of the Pink Panther, Sellers somehow marshaled the energy to go out and make Being There?
EDWARDS: No, because work was his only salvation. He always seemed to find the energy someplace, so I don't think I was really surprised by it.
PLAYBOY: We were a little surprised when we learned you were making two more Pink panther films, the first of which is being released about the time this interview is being published. When did you decide to do that?
EDWARDS: About five years before Sellers passed away. I thought he'd refuse to play Clouseau in any more movies, and in the meantime, the Pink Panther had become something of an institution. Do you have any idea what the Panther cartoon character itself brings in every year in merchandising?
PLAYBOY: Care to tell us?
EDWARDS: I think it was about $110,000,000 last year, and I have a lot of ownership in it. It just seemed like a shame to let the movie version end when Peter died, but I thought his character should die, so I was faced with a problem: What do I do about Clouseau? I didn't like the idea of saying in a film that he'd passed away and that we'd carry on without him, so I had to come up with an invention that would please the public, and I think I have. I don't really want to reveal the plot of Trail of the Pink Panther except to say it begins with a plane crash and Clouseau is presumed dead, and a reporter is assigned to gather all the information he can about him. It actually starts off a little like Citizen Kane, but I don't think anyone will mistake it for that.
PLAYBOY: The success of the three Pink Panther sequels amounted to a dramatic comeback for you. Are we wrong in thinking that after your six-year Sojourn in Europe, Hollywood welcomed you back with open arms--and that you were able to write your own ticket on "10"?
EDWARDS: Yeah, you are wrong. Nobody was interested in doing a picture about a wealthy semi bachelor who drives around in a Rolls-Royce and who makes a fool of himself. Because "10,, touched on such themes as male menopause, fidelity and women's bib, initially, I didn't find any takers. But then some executives from United Artists left UA to start Orion Pictures, and they desperately wanted something that could replace the Pink Panther. I knew that, so I went to them with a project called The Ferret, which was about an undercover agent who works for only the President of the United States.
PLAYBOY: Was it a comedy?
EDWARDS: No, it was very serious, very real. Orion got excited about it, and I clearly indicated that in order for me to do The Ferret, the studio would have to let me do "10." So we wound up making a three-picture deal for The Ferret, "10" and S.O.B., and because it was ready to go, we shot "10', first.
PLAYBOY: Had you planned to do "10" after the Panther films, and had you planned to use Julie in it?
ANDREWS: Yes to the former and no to the latter, right? I don't think Blake had had any intention of using me in "10".
EDWARDS: Oh, yes, I did.|
ANDREWS: Did you?
EDWARDS: I talked to you about "10" very early. You're just not remembering.
ANDREWS: No, I'm not.
EDWARDS: Someday, I want to make the definitive martial-arts film.
ANDREWS: There you are.
PLAYBOY: Considering the fate of Darling Lili and The Tamarind Seed, did either of you think that perhaps it wasn't such a bright idea to work together again?
ANDREWS: Once in a while. I felt that maybe I was a jinx for Blake and we shouldn't work together, but the happy result is that we're way past that now. And it never really mattered, anyway, because the pleasure of doing a film with him far outweighs any other consideration.
PLAYBOY: Blake has told us why he likes to work with you. Why do you like to work with Blake?
ANDREWS: Because there's always a great feeling of fun on any picture he makes. His set is a very happy environment, and I'm not speaking for just myself when I say that his actors are embraced and, to a degree, are asked for their opinions; and if they have something valid to contribute, he'll go with it. You have a very open mind about that, Blake. He also has a wonderful knowledge of camera and lenses and the ability to edit a movie as he shoots it-he doesn't waste time and he doesn't shoot extraneously. Cutting in camera is what I'm trying to say, isn't it, Blake?
EDWARDS: Yeah, and it's really tied to the fact that I direct my own screenplays. When you write a screenplay, you en-vision certain things, and as a director, you just bring that to the set. A lot of directors will shoot hundreds of thousands of feet of film covering scenes from every possible angle, but having usually written what I'm directing. I don't have to do that. I've already worked it out a long time before I ever walk onto the set, which is why I'm probably known for shooting less film than anybody in the business.
ANDREWS: Can I say just one other thing that I feel about Blake? He's not a trick director. A number of directors, for no reason at all, will suddenly shoot a scene through a keyhole or over a doorway just because it seems like a clever thing to do. Blake doesn't do those things; he doesn't try to show his own ego on film.
EDWARDS: Days of Wine and Roses was a classic example of what Julie's talking about: If ever a film were seemingly designed for a director to show off, that was it. 1 can't tell you how many times I started looking under a bed or something to find an angle that would be, as Julie says, kind of tricky. But I just kept it as straight as I could and kept telling myself. Don't be cute and don't be clever. Just pay attention to your actors and don't let anybody know there's a camera there. In films such as Experiment in Terror, I've used the camera more for effect. In that one, I didn't want to expose time villain's full face immediately so I had just a big mouth breathing into a phone. But I don't remember any specific times when I felt I was showing off except for when I started out, and I'm sure that's always prompted me into thinking, Be careful.
PLAYBOY: If we can return to the subject of "10," we'd like to know whether or not your much-ballyhooed nationwide search for a perfectly beautiful woman- a ten-actually took place.
EDWARDS: Well, I think time studio exaggerated it because it was making hay out of time publicity, but there certainly was a search. We didn't go nationwide or anything like it, though. We just did it in time Los Angeles area, and I interviewed an awful lot of ladies and conducted many, many screen tests. I settled on several possibilities, but even though I knew we were close, I wasn't 100 percent convinced that we had the actress we needed. And then, at a party one night, a United Artists publicist jokingly told inc. "That lady over there knows a term," so I sought her out casually and asked, "What's this about a ten?" And she said, "I really do know a ten-John Derek's wife." I immediately answered, "You mean he's got another one, for God's sake? That adds up to 30." We did a couple of those jokes, and then I made an appointment for her to bring Derek's wife to time studio and promptly forgot about it. Well, a couple of days later, I walked into my office and sitting there was Bo Derek - and I just froze.
ANDREWS: Blake's actual description of that moment was that he came to a skidding half.
EDWARDS: That's right. And after I talked to Bo, I called Julie and said, "I found her!" Julie said, "Terrific-can she act?" And I said, "Jesus, I don't know."
ANDREWS: He couldn't have cared less. Blake didn't even test her.
PLAYBOY: Can she act?
EDWARDS: Yes, but you have to provide Bo with the proper arena. There's a kind of naturalness about her, and you've got to tap into that in order to make her performance more than just sort of average.
ANDREWS: I saw her to do some interesting things that were very contributive. She really worked hard.
PLAYBOY: How did you happen to pick Dudley Moore to star opposite Bo Derek and your wife?
EDWARDS: That was the result of circumstance and instinct. I'd written "10', with Jack Lemmon in mind, and for many years I tried to get him to do it, but Jack didn't like it. I guess he didn't like it, because he wouldn't do it, so I finally signed George Segal. In fact, we had Segal before we found Bo, but then, just a few days before we were supposed to start shooting, he quit the picture. I was stunned. 1 couldn't believe it.
PLAYBOY: Didn't Segal claim that there were scenes in "10" that he'd wanted out of the screenplay?
EDWARDS: That's what he says; it's not true. I mean, he may have come up with that after the fact, but we had meetings with him right up until he quit, arid as far as my co-producer, Tony Adams, and I were concerned, Segal was happy. He's changed his story so many times that I really don't know what the answer is.
PLAYBOY: Segal filed a lawsuit against you, and then you filed one against him. How was the matter resolved?
EDWARDS: We settled out of court; he paid up. All I can say is that I've been very lucky in that anyone who's ever walked out on one of my movies has been replaced by somebody better. Peter Ustinov, you know, was originally signed to play Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther, but at the last minute-and I mean the last minute, the Friday before the Monday we were to start shooting- Ustinov said he wouldn't do it.
PLAYBOY: Why did he back out?
EDWARDS: The reason he gave was that we'd told him Ava Gardner would be playing his wife, but about a week before, she'd quit, and we'd replaced her with Capucine. Ustinov didn't have the contractual right to walk out on the movie, but at that point, we were already in Rome, and we had to either replace him or cancel the movie and start legal proceedings. Well, Sellers was available because he'd just walked out on Topkapi. I don't know this for a fact, but it makes one suspect that maybe Ustinov quit The Pink Panther to do Topkapi. Anyway, Sellers was brilliant in The Pink Panther, and "10" opened up a whole new career for Dudley Moore.
PLAYBOY: Moore is a far cry from Segal. Were you at all apprehensive about using him?
EDWARDS: No, not at all. Once I settled on the idea, I was very happy with it. I just shifted gears.
ANDREWS: I sure was apprehensive. Dudley seemed a lot younger than I was and I was certainly a lot taller than he was, so I rather tactfully suggested to Blake that maybe he'd like to replace me with someone who'd be more compatible with Dudley. Blake told me he wanted that difference. He asked me to think about Sinatra and Gardner or to consider someone like Andre Previn, who's not very tall but who's immensely attractive and makes everybody swoon. Once Blake explained my relationship with Dudley, it became totally and utterly easy. It sure helps to have it mapped out for you.
PLAYBOY: Did you anticipate that "10 would bring in more than $75,000,000 at the box office?
EDWARDS: Oh, I thought it would do well, but I had no idea it would do that well. Orion certainly didn't think it would do well at all, because after "10" was completed-but before it was released-it canceled our three-picture agreement. That was the end of The Ferret, and if not for David Picker and Paramount, S.O.B. never would have been made. Picker and no one else had the guts to say, "Let's do it!"
PLAYBOY: Didn't you also have a run-in with Orion about time ads for "10"?
EDWARDS: Yes, because time ads it ran for "10" were tasteless, but I must tell you, I really don't want to talk about those people. As with so many of the executives I continually run across in this business, their value systems are garbage dumps. I think I was badly treated; they think differently, and that's their privilege. I would prefer to forget them, because talking about them is a waste of life, if you will.
PLAYBOY: Then let's drop the subject and get back to you, Julie. Aside from your initial apprehension about playing opposite Moore, how did you feel about appearing in "10"?
ANDREWS: Well, it was the first film for me in quite a while, and I was super-nervous. I thought that maybe styles in acting had changed and that perhaps time had passed me by and I'd seem very old-fashioned. I hadn't done a movie for five years, and on the first day of shooting, I had to do something simple like carry in a bag of groceries-and it felt like I was beginning all over again. I was all anxiety and nerves, and I thought the top of my head would come off. It took me several days to settle down.
PLAYBOY: When you did, did you sense that Moore had finally come across the breakthrough movie role that had eluded him for so long?
ANDREWS: Oh, as soon as I got to know Dudley, I had no doubt that he would have burst out somewhere, because he really is adorable! All the time we were filming, Dudley kept us laughing and entertained us-he's also a fine pianist, you know. Those were great things to find out, because I hadn't ever really met him before, and I think we kind of walked around each other a little bit at first. I was probably as scared of him as he was of me-God knows why, but we were-and then we became very good friends after that. I've found, incidentally, that when you make a film or a play, a very personal thing happens between the two main people involved in it. It's not exactly like an affair, but it's close. And it's very cerebral, because you get into all sorts of areas of vulnerability and self-consciousness, and you really sense where the other person's at. A very close relationship builds, and yet it can be over as soon as a film or play is finished, but that's the nature of the beast, and it's nothing that one regrets. I mean, that's the way it is.
PLAYBOY: Richard Burton once said that every actor who plays opposite you falls a little in love with you. Is that feeling reciprocated?
ANDREWS: In his case, it was; I got this huge crush on Burton when I did Camelot, and I must say that a couple of years before that, when I was doing My Fair Lady, I was absolutely fascinated by Rex Harrison. Each of those gentlemen was an almost magical learning experience for me. and the chances to work with them were the results of a couple of monumental times in my life when fate, luck, timing-I don't know what you'd call it-came my way. I mean, two years before I found myself in My Fair Lady, I was 18 and over the hill. Really, my career was just about finished.
PLAYBOY: Do you know how improbably that sounds?
ANDREWS: Ah, but it's the truth, because by then, I'd gone about as far as I could go in England. I'd been this sort of child phenomenon and after about six years in vaudeville, there wasn't very much left for me to do.
PLAYBOY: How did you get into vaudeville in the first place?
ANDREWS: Through my mum and stepfather-they were a vaudeville team. She was a fine pianist, and when she met my stepfather, they formed a musical act. She played the piano for him, and he was a tenor who sang everything from grand opera to ballads to pop songs of the day. They became a very successful second-top-of-the-bill act; a comedian would usually be top of the bill, and a musical act came second. I lived with my aunt when they began touring, but one day, when I was about nine, my stepfather discovered that I had a freak voice, and not long after that, I started appearing with them.
PLAYBOY: Why do you say you had a freak voice?
ANDREWS: Because that's what it was. Did you ever hear Yma Sumac sing? She was that Peruvian lady who could hit notes high enough to attract dogs from miles around. Well, I couldn't do that or break glasses with my voice, but I could do just about anything else. I had a kind of adult larynx, and when I began studying with my stepfather's vocal teacher, he discovered that I had a vocal range of five octaves, which was an enormously powerful voice for a rather small kid. During school holidays, my stepfather would ask various house managers to allow me to go onstage with him, and I'd stand on a beer crate so that I could reach time microphone and we'd sing duets together and sometimes I'd do a solo. That went on until I was 12, and then this very sophisticated revue was about to be started at time London Hippodrome, and for some reason-I guess my parents knew the producers-I was asked to appear in it. It was the full showbiz story: The night before opening night, the management decided I was too young for the revue and that I wouldn't go over well, and so my mother, stepfather and their agent descended on the producers and said, "You can't do that to this poor kid. Give Julie her big break." So they changed what I was supposed to sing from something rather mild like The Skater's Waltz to a difficult aria, and on opening night, I knocked 'em dead, I gather. Actually, I remember it rather well, 'cause it was quite a night.
PLAYBOY: What did you do in the show?
ANDREWS: I followed a sweet man named Wally Bogue, a very funny comedian who did some crazy dances and then told stories while making little animal figures out of balloons. At the end of his act, he said, "Are there any little girls and boys who'd like one of these balloons?" And along with two or three kids who were genuinely from the audience, I ran up to the stage to get one. Wally purposely talked to me last and asked me what I liked to do, and I told him I was a singer. His line was "Would you sing for us tonight?" and that was my cue.
PLAYBOY: And the orchestra's as well?
ANDREWS: Hokey though it may have been, suddenly there was full orchestration behind me with lots of luscious strings, and I immediately went into the Polonaise from Mignon; I hit a high F above high C-a very high note, indeed-and I literally stopped the show. The audience wouldn't stop applauding and afterward, the press followed me home and photographed me with my Teddy bear. This will date me a bit, but I suppose you could say I became sort of England's Deanna Durbin, and for the next six years, I capitalized on that.
PLAYBOY: You became a full-time trouper?
ANDREWS: Yes, and at first I enjoyed the notoriety and the fact that I was a little special, but after a few years it was just plain hard work. When I was 15, I was touring all over England, playing theaters a week at a time, and I realize now that it was the tag end of the glory days of English vaudeville. And then, to my horror, when I was 17-and still wearing dresses that pressed my bosom reasonably flat and little ankle socks and Mary Janes - my voice started changing. I have a hunch that a girl's voice doesn't break the way a boy's does; it just shifts gears. From having such a vast range- five octaves-my voice dropped to the three I have today. I no longer had that enormous flexibility, but my voice, which was pretty white and thin-it's still pretty white and thin-got warmer and more mature.
PLAYBOY: What did that do to your career?
ANDREWS: Not very much, because this fish had thoroughly explored England's rather small show-business pond. When I was 18, I was playing Cinderella in the Christmas pantomime at the London Palladium, and that was about the top shot left for me. By then, however, The Boy Friend had opened in London-it was an original English show-and the producers were putting together a completely new company for a Broadway production. Luckily for me, the director happened to see me in Cinderella one night and asked if I would like to play the lead in the American production he offered me a two-year contract, and the idea of being banished to America for two years was unthinkable, so I ref used.
PLAYBOY: Why was it unthinkable?
ANDREWS: Because I never had been away from my parents for more than a week at a time, and even then, I always had this awful separation anxiety. The producers really did want me in the show, so for only one of the few times I ever put my foot down in those days, I said I'd do it only if they'd make it for one year. Even after they agreed, I went through an agony of indecision about whether or not I should go, and I damned near didn't. If I'd had my way, I'd probably have turned it down, but my parents thought 1 should go, and so did my father-my real father. When in doubt, I'd always turn to him, because he's very wise and dear, and he said, "Look, honey, go get the experience. The show will probably run only two or three months, anyway, and you'll have had a fantastic experience that will broaden your mind." So off I went, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me, because if I hadn't come to America, I'm quite sure my career would have just fizzled out.
PLAYBOY: What did you expect New York to be like?
ANDREWS: I don't honestly think that I anticipated anything. I was just sort of numb at having landed this job that was going to take me into time unknown. I'd heard that Fifth Avenue was glorious and that the United States was a country of extreme wealth, but mostly I was trying to absorb what was happening to me, and I felt very out of my depth. I flew over to New York with four other girls, amid a few weeks after getting there, I moved into a room with one of them, a mad extrovert with the improbable name of Dilys Lay-the producers added an E to her last name because they thought DILYS LAY would look a little strange on the marquee. Dilys was always out and about, letting one amorous beau out the back door while greeting another one at the front. I was rather bewildered at this constant parade of guys who were wining and dining her, and occasionally, she'd drag me along; mostly, I wanted to stay in. She was very good for me, and I was good for her. I think I calmed her down a bit, and Dilys certainly pepped me up a bit, which was just what I needed.
PLAYBOY: Why? Were you very homesick?
ANDREWS: That was part of it, but my real worry was that before The Boy Friend opened, I half expected to be sent packing back to England. The show was set in the Twenties, and everybody was kind of camping it up and being funny in a Betty Boop way, and I had no idea how to play comedy or how to behave as if I belonged in that era. I muddled through rehearsals for the entire summer, and then, on the morning of our opening night the show's producer, Cy Feuer, bless his heart, sat me down for a talk. This is about as hokey a showbiz story as my being allowed to go on at the Hippodrome, but it's also true.
PLAYBOY: We're all ears, Julie.
ANDREWS: Well, Feuer took me out to the fire escape outside the theater and said, "You really were terrible last night," and I heartily agreed, because I hadn't gotten a single laugh. "If you do exactly what I tell you, you stand a chance of being successful," he said. "You've been trying to be funny and you've been atrocious, so I want you to forget about trying to be funny. Just play your character as if she were absolutely real and forget about what the other people are doing." So that's how I played it on opening night, and the next morning, there was a new star on Broadway. I got great reviews, my name went up above the title on the marquee and it was terribly exciting! The Boy Friend was actually a very fragile, gentle little musical, almost like a piece of lace, but it became quite a big hit because it was the "in" thing to see that year-mostly because everyone loved the Twenties music and we had a marvelous group of musicians. I spent the year thrashing about wildly, trying to realize what I'd done. It was a wonderful learning experience, and then, as the following summer approached. I got terribly excited about the prospect of finally going home. Once again. however, my timing was right, and I got very, very lucky.
PLAYBOY: You were asked to do My Fair Lady?
ANDREWS: Exactly so. Two weeks before I was to go home, I received a telephone call from someone who represented Alan Jay Len-tier and Frederick Loewe. and he asked me just one question: How long was my contract with The Boy Friend? I told him I was going home in two weeks, and the man-I wish I could remember his name-said, "Oh, Jesus Christ, I'll be right back to you." He later explained that Lerner and Loewe were doing a musical version of George Bernard Shaw's and they'd wanted to get in touch with me, but everybody had said don't bother; she's probably got a two-year contract like the rest of the people in that show. This man had apparently said it would cost only a dime to call me, and he was very surprised.. So I auditioned for Lerner and Loewe, and then I auditioned for Rodgers and Hammerstein, who were doing a musical called Pipe Dreams. Richard Rodgers told me, "Look, we'd love to use you. but I think you'd be better off in the Lerner and Loewe piece. If you get it. take it-and if you don't, please let us know." Well, I got it and took it.
PLAYBOY: We're under the impression that Lerner and Loewe auditioned dozens for women for the role of Eliza Doolittle. Was that the case?
ANDREWS: I know they had asked Mary Martin to do it and I think they had another actress in mind for a while, but they eventually picked me, thank God. I actually auditioned three times for them at the Shubert Theater-just an empty stage, a pianist and me-and I sang loudly and piercingly. I gave them my full vaudeville whammy, and when they finally settled on me, I once again was less than joyous.
PLAYBOY: Why? Did you think My Fair Lady would turn out to be a flop?
ANDREWS: My thoughts at the time were, Oh, my God, what are these Americans going to do to Shaw? And this time I had to sign a two-year contract-more tears at having to be away from home for so long, in general, though, I soon became preoccupied with just surviving and getting through. You know, they're pretty ruthless on Broadway, and even in The Boy Friend, a couple of people who hadn't cut it were sent back to England. Well, dunning rehearsals for My Fair Lady, I knew that I was the worst, and if not for Moss Hart, our director, I'm sure I would have been sent back to England. Talk about Pygmalion and Galatea; Moss was my Svengali!
PLAYBOY: Why did you need so much help?
ANDREWS: I'd never done so dramatic a play before, and what's really hilarious is that I had no idea how to do a Cockney accent. They finally got an American professor of phonetics to teach me how to speak Cockney. I was fine in the musical numbers, but I was terrible in the dramatic role. I saw the movie of Pygmalion with Leslie Howard three times and I knew what I wanted to do, but I just didn't seem able to do it. So there I was, floundering around, and I had the sense that the rest of the company was very worried about me. Finally. Moss, that unique man, said, "I'm going to dismiss the company for a long weekend, and you and I will just work together and see if we can't get a grasp on the role." I knew it was going to be agony, and I also knew it was now or never: if I couldn't cut it. I was going to be fired.
PLAYBOY: Was it a weekend of agony?
ANDREWS: No, because I knew Moss was offering me a lifeline, and it was the most wonderful thing he could have done. We worked two seemingly endless days, primarily to find the guts I needed for Eliza Doolitte. Moss would snatch Eliza's purse from me, try to get me angry, then he'd bash out at rime. He'd say, "You're acting like a schoolgirl- be stronger!" It was one of those things where you want to weep and break down, yet you know you're lost if you don't listen and learn, it really was painful-it was like stripping your soul of all the corny things and being laid bare-and it was the best acting lesson I'd ever had in my life. And underneath all his bullying and cajoling and encouraging, I could feel this tremendous affection. Moss really wanted me to succeed, and so did I. As I say. I knew where I wanted to go with Eliza, but I didn't know how to get there; Moss showed me how to get there. That Monday morning, it felt as if the eyes of the entire world were upon me, and it was a little intimidating. I'm sure I fell back 50 percent on the work I'd done over the weekend, but I obviously did well enough to stay with the show.
PLAYBOY: You mentioned before that you were fascinated by Rex Harrison. Why?
ANDREWS: Because he was magical onstage, and sometimes I'd find myself forgetting to be Eliza and I'd just watch him with my mouth open. He was one of the best learning experiences I'd ever had. Before My Fair Lady. Rex had never sung, and he was very worried about doing it for the first time. When we started rehearsals, he was truly intimidated by the orchestra, but then he evolved his wonderful form of talking and singing, which I found brilliant. And because he was such a heavyweight and so good as Henry Higgins, I'd get so nervous working with him that sometimes I'd actually get the giggles. I mean, there'd be moments he'd only have to say "Boo!' to me and I'd be gone-and he knew it.
ANDREWS: No, he was very generous onstage, and he really carried the show for a very, very long time, until I'd done some of my homework. Rex was also wonderfully unpredictable, and onstage he liked to tease me a lot, and that would make me giggle. I remember there was a Brownie camera on Higgins' desk. and one night. while I was delivering my lines. Rex said, "Hold it!" and began snapping away. At such moments, I'd break up and hate myself for doing it, and he was probably thoroughly fed up with my stupid giggles, but it was sheer nerves.
PLAYBOY: How long did that go on?
ANDREWS: It lasted for a good two months after we opened on Broadway. Along with being intimidating and professional and everything else, Rex was also a very flatulent gentleman, and occasionally he'd really let fly onstage. which would surprise us all-and that would get me very nervous. One night, we were doing the scene toward the end of the show in which Eliza and Mrs. Higgins are talking about what makes a lady, and absolutely at the moment when Mrs. Higgins says, "Henry, dear, please don't grind your teeth," Rex cut loose with a machine-gun volley that stunned the audience, startled the orchestra and absolutely put us away. I just about fell down with the giggles. and from then on, every other line of dialog seemed to have a double meaning, in the last song Eliza sings, I could almost see this lyric coming up, and there was no way I was going to get through it. All I had to sing was "No, my reverberating friend, you are not the beginning and the end," and I completely cracked up. Rex, meanwhile, had this mischievous look in his eye. and when the curtain finally came down, I was practically weeping from nerves. That night, the show must have run a half hour longer than usual, because there would be these long pauses onstage while we tried to pull ourselves together. Afterward, I went up to hum and said, "How could you do that to me?" And Rex said, "I'm terribly sorry, but when I was young. I was always a very windy boy."
PLAYBOY: What was your reaction to that?
ANDREWS: Just what you'd expect-I started giggling again. Mercifully. I finally got over all my nervousness and settled down to a long run. I know I'm prejudiced but in my opinion. My Fair Lady was one of the finest, most beautifully crafted musicals ever done.
PLAYBOY: How long did you stay with the show?
ANDREWS: Well, I did My Fair Lady for two years on Broadway and then 18 months in London. And before the end of my run in London, Lerner and Loewe asked me to be in Camelot and since it was the same team-Moss Hart would be directing me again-I was very happy to accept. At that point, I took a year's vacation, and it wasn't so much a luxury as it was a badly needed rest.
PLAYBOY: Was the role of Eliza so exhausting?
ANDREWS: It was vocally exhausting. I got myself into a terrible neurotic state about my voice, because toward the end of my run in London, I developed some soft nodes on my vocal cords and thought I'd never sing again. In fact. I actually begged out of the last three months of my London contract, and Hugh Beaumont, who was manager of the theatre I was playing at, let me off, because he knew I was pretty desperate at that point. I don't know any Eliza who didn't have vocal trouble because of the role. Some managed longer than others, but eventually they all collapsed. Anyway, I took the next year off and had a great holiday in the South of France and then started rehearsals for Camelot.
PLAYBOY: Was your role as Guinevere in Camelot less demanding that that of Eliza?
ANDREWS: It was far less demanding, and by that time, I'd learned how to take care of myself better, and I was that much wiser and smarter and more mature in terms of being on Broadway and knowing how to cope. Camelot was a very happy experience. It wasn't as big a success as My Fair Lady but I think it might have been a much bigger hit if it had been produced before My Fair Lady, because everyone was looking at Lerner and Loewe and comparing their work in the two shows. Camelot did have some flaws, however, and critics found fault with the fact that it started off as a kind of wonderful fairy tale and ended up very realistically. The show began with Arthur and Guinevere meeting and Arthur persuading her that Camelot was a place worth coming to and that he was an attractive guy. It was very dear and touching, but toward the end of the show, it got very heavy when, after Arthur's bastard son had ruined the kingdom, they had to part and she went away and he went away and Lancelot went away. I like the show a lot, but probably the most important thing about it for me was the chance to work with Burton, because, like Harrison, he was such a huge talent that, again. I'd just stand around and watch. Burton did things onstage that were nothing less than amazing.
PLAYBOY: Such as?
ANDREWS: Richard would say to me, "I will make the audience cry tonight with this speech, and in the same speech tomorrow night, I will make them laugh." And he would do just that, and 1 would be awed. I still don't know how he could hold an audience so brilliantly that he could make them laugh at the same words that had made them cry the night before.
PLAYBOY: Was he fun to work with?
ANDREWS: Very much so, and even though he had some drinking problems at the time, he never gave a bad performance. In fact, Richard could even turn his boozing to his advantage. If he were drunk, he'd play Arthur as the weariest, most emotionally torn king in the world, one who could hardly wave his sword because life was just too heavy. Burton would be exhausted from a binge, but he'd make it work, Robert Goulet was in Camelot too, and he was divine. The guys in the show all wore hose and short doublets, and Goulet had the best pair of legs! I used to sit offstage every night and watch him sing If Ever I Would Leave You, and all I could think of was, Gee, the backs of his knees are just great! His voice was pretty good, too.
PLAYBOY: Did Burton have decent legs?
ANDREWS: No, but it didn't matter. God, I fell instantly in love with him when we started, and luckily for me, his eyes did not rest upon me until much later in the show's run, by which time I was on to him and wise enough to stay away.
PLAYBOY: Why did you feel that way? Was Burton romancing several women at the time?
ANDREWS: Going through the entire company would be a better description. That's not exactly true, but I've never seen ladies fall by the wayside as they did with him. Burton had an almost irresistible charm, and he's just so good at what he does that I don't know how often he truly has to flex those artistic muscles of his. I do know that years later, he put the absolute capper on my square image. One day, he called me up while he was being interviewed by Time magazine and said, "Listen, they're saying you're the only one of my leading ladies I've never slept with." I told him "For God's sake, don't admit it. That'll sound terrible." He told Time Magazine it was true, anyway.
PLAYBOY: While you were on Broadway in Camelot, Audrey Hepburn was signed to play Eliza in the film version of My Fair Lady. Did that come as a major shock?
ANDREWS: Well, this may sound like stiff upper lip, but the truth is, at that point, I'd never made a film, I wasn't box office-except perhaps on Broadway-and those were the times when studios had to go with big names, so why would they invest in me?||
PLAYBOY: You accepted the news that calmly?
ANDREWS: Oh, no. I threw a certain number of tantrums but I understood it; whether I accepted it is another question. I've actually accepted it less as the years have gone by because as I gain perspective on what My Fair Lady was and on that particular role, I really would like to have committed my performance to film. But I certainly understood the reasons for casting Audrey Hepburn, and it was easy to be charitable, because I was offered a nice movie in its place. Almost simultaneous to the news about Hepburn, Walt Disney visited me backstage at Camelot and talked to me about Mary Poppins. and I was very mollified. When I went out to the Disney studios in California and listened to the music written for Mary Poppins, the bouncy songs all had a vaudeville strut quality and the ballads had a pretty-parasol kind of appeal, and they were all right up my alley. The day I heard them, I knew I wanted to make the film, and about six months later, when I finished in Camelot. I returned to California to start Mary Poppins.
PLAYBOY: What kind of man was Disney?
ANDREWS: He was a charming man with a twinkling personality, and he put in an enormous number of hours at his studio each week. Among all of his skills, one of his great talents was an almost phenomenal ability for picking nice people to work with. His studio had a special charm-it still does-and at first, you'd go there slightly cynical because of all the cartoons and fairy tales he'd produced, but once you were there you discovered that it was filled with nice people who were all very dedicated to Walt and to doing a good job. They made me feel very comfortable.
PLAYBOY: How comfortable were you the first time you were in front of a movie camera?
ANDREWS: I wasn't comfortable at all. The first day of filming was very scary, because I'd thought that maybe I had to do something very special on film, but I gradually realized that there was no special magic to it. If one just said one's lines and was fairly genuine about it, the next day's dailies didn't look too terrible.
PLAYBOY: How did you feel about leaving New York for Hollywood?
ANDREWS: That wasn't a problem. in anyway. Hollywood seemed bigger, brighter and-I felt this-a little bit more permanent than New York. To me, the joy was getting up early every morning and from 6:30 A.M. to about 7:30 A.M. experiencing what seemed like an English spring. At that hour, there's a wonderful dampness over the whole city, and there are flowers everywhere and they smell good.. It's such a pretty place, and having come from Broadway, at first I wondered how anyone could work seriously there, because everything's done at such a frantic pace in New York. And them I realized that the pulse of California beats a little shower, but the work done there is no less serious. It's just done at a happier, lazier pace.
PLAYBOY: In spite of the languorous pace you've just described, weren't you soon working harder than ever?
ANDREWS: Well, I didn't find movie making as demanding as Broadway but, yes I was very busy. After Mary Poppins, I went right into The Americanization of Emily and then into The Sound of Music. The interesting thing was that all three films were completed before any of them was released. I'd been in Hollywood for two years. and the fun was that I wasn't yet being judged for anything. I was having the best time, I was making all these wonderful movies, and all I had to do was enjoy doing them, because they weren't out yet. I would have been happy if they'd stayed in the can.
PLAYBOY: You had no curiosity about how you'd be received?
ANDREWS: I swear to God, no. And as far as their release was concerned, I felt trepidation rather than impatience. And then all three movies came out within months of one another, and it was as if a tidal wave had hit me, because I was suddenly in enormous demand for interviews. It was just a wacky time of my life.
PLAYBOY: Did you feel any sense of vindication when your performance in Mary Poppins beat Audrey Hepburn's in My Fair Lady for an Academy Award?
ANDREWS: Well, I didn't feel it was necessarily because of the film. I think there was a lot of public sentiment involved, and when I accepted the award, I said something like "You sure know how to make a girl feel welcome." I felt that Hollywood had given me a valid welcome to the movie industry.
PLAYBOY: Didn't you say something a lot more trenchant when you received a Golden Globe award for Mary Poppins?
ANDREWS: You do your homework, don't you? Yes, when I was given the Golden Globe, I thanked my family, the people I'd worked with on the film, and I think I said, "And most of all, I want to thank Jack Warner, who made it all possible in the first place." In other words, if Warner hadn't turned me down for My Fair Lady, I wouldn't have been able to make Mary Poppins. Well, my little speech was greeted by a deathly hush. As I mentioned earlier, when I do occasionally make the odd funny remark, people don't expect it and don't quite know how to take it. Jack Warner sitting right there in front of me, and I remember thinking that I'd really blown it. Mercifully, after about ten seconds of silence, there was a tremendous roar and a lot of applause.
PLAYBOY: Were you tempted to repeat that remark at the Academy Awards?
EDWARDS: If I can get back into this conversation, let me just say that Julie never repeats herself. Which is a shame, because about once every five years, she'll come up with a line that's just beautiful.
PLAYBOY: Nice of you to say so. Since you've known her ten years, give us her two best lines.
EDWARDS: I could probably give you ten. Remember my mention of the news paper woman who implied that Julie, Rock Hudson and I were carrying on together? Well, one day, Julie said that if that woman ever needed heart surgery, she hoped the doctors would go in through her feet. Another time, a friend of ours told us she'd accidentally slammed the door on the finger of a woman we all had reason to dislike. Julie said, "Too bad it wasn't her tongue."
ANDREWS: As you may have gathered by now, Blake is a lot swifter in that department than I am. I particularly like what he said after Sue Mengere,, a heavily built Hollywood agent. saw SOB. and decided that the Shelley Winters character was modeled after herself. She said, "An Alp should only fall on their house." Blake said that would be preferable to Sue Mengeres' falling on our house.
PLAYBOY: Was S.O.B., successful?
ANDREWS: In terms of money, yes; it cleared its cost. Critically, it was a huge success. Critics either loved it or loathed it, but among the press people we respect, it was very, very much admired.
PLAYBOY: After viewing that film, Blake, a number of critics seemed to conclude that much of your humor is sadistic. Is it?
EDWARDS: Only some of it is-the part that derives from slapstick and people like Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy.
ANDREWS: That's the kind of comedy that always gets the biggest laughs.
EDWARDS: It always got my biggest laughs. I remember watching Chaplin play a pawnbroker's assistant, and some poor guy comes in and hands him a clock he wants to hock. Well, Chaplin examines the chock so thoroughly that he winds up taking it completely apart and then has no idea how to put it back together again. Having destroyed it, he gives it back to the customer, and through this is a silent movie, you can almost here Chaplin telling the guy. "Sorry, were not interested in buying this from you. The man is obviously upset that Chaplin has ruined his clock and begins protesting-and while he continues to argue, Chaplin reaches down, picks up a hammer and hits him right between the eyes.When I saw that scene, I fell off my chair, so I knew where my humor was coming from. The sadistic aspect of that Chaplin bit makes me laugh and I think that's OK, because there's a great difference between drama and comedy. You wouldn't believe Chaplin's action in a drama; in a comedy, you know that nobody's getting hurt-that's the difference. And that's also the wonderful thing about comedy: It allows you to get rid of a lot of aggression.
ANDREWS: It's a kind of relief. Why else would you get laughs if someone fell down and damned near broke an ankle?
EDWARDS: Comedy is deeply personal for me; it's just a simple matter of whether or not I think something's funny. You can go to see a drama, and a lot of things can save the movie. A truly great performance can do it, or there can be one fantastic sequence or even a terrific score can attract a lot of attention. When it comes to comedy, things are more basic: If it isn't funny, your picture's no good.
PLAYBOY: In the past few years a number of youth-orientated comedies such as Animal House, Caddyshack and Stripes have proved to be massive money-makers yet they seem almost amateurish compared with the films you make. Do they strike you that way. too?
EDWARDS: I really feel that they're sophomoric and that the audience for them will change, because kids grow up very fast. I'm not sure that that kind of humor will remain. It's something for me that's just as untraditional and sophomoric as Saturday Night Live; I'm not a great fan, because it doesn't make me laugh a lot. I think there are unnecessarily cruel moments in that show, and I mean real sniping at people, which doesn't amuse me. I think my kind of humor is the kind of traditional humor that can always make people laugh. Inevitably, even the kids who turn on to Saturday Night Live will still laugh at the Buster Keatons and the Laurel and Hardys.
PLAYBOY: At the same time, however, if half of the 40,000,000 fans of Saturday Night Live go to see their TV favorites in a movie, some studio is going to rake in $100,000,000 at the box office.
EDWARDS: But that's so stupid, because studio executives have always thought like that and it doesn't necessarily work. I remember when Liberace was a big hit on television and movie executives were walking around saying, "My God, do you know how many people Liberace draws at his performances? Whatever city he goes to, he's sold out. If we get just the people who go to his concerts, we've got a $100,000,000 gross on our hands." So they made a Liberace picture and it fell right on its ass. And they continually do that kind of thing. It's like the old story about the early days of Universal Studios. Some genius up there said, "A movie with a boy and a dog always sells, and a picture with two nuns in it has made a lot of money, so let's put 'em all together and we'll really have a hit." What he had was the failure of all time. Studios are notorious for hiring second-rate executives, and their biggest complaint is that we don't have any audience anymore. But that's not true; we don't have the movies anymore! Studio guys love to talk about demographics and how only young people go to tire movies, and yet when someone makes a film hike The Turning Point-which wasn't for kids-other people come out in droves to see it.
PLAYBOY: Are you at all optimistic about the possibility that there will be more Turning Points and fewer Caddyshacks in the near future?
EDWARDS: For the most post, no. I think it's going to get worse before it gets better.
PLAYBOY: Does that tend to make you feel like a kind of Hollywood dinosaur?
ANDREWS: There are a few dinosaurs left, which is hopeful.
EDWARDS: Well, as long as they're classy dinosaurs, darling. The kind with a great deal of panache.
ANDREWS: Since we're talking about comedy and comedy films, let me tell you about something that really bugs me and confuses me. In the early days, I really didn't like Woody Allen at all; his movies seemed a little sophomoric, and then, suddenly, he turned around and got better and better, and I think his three latest films have been great. I recognize that he's really learned a lot and come a long way, but what really blows my mind is that I've recently seen some of his old ones, and now I think they really weren't so bad. Am I reevaluating him because he's successful, or am I looking back and seeing qualities I didn't recognize then? Have I opened my head a little? Do you know what I'm trying to say, Blake?
EDWARDS: Yeah, I do. I can look back on some of the things he did that I didn't particularly care for then but that I like now. I think he was probably doing something we weren't particularly familiar with and didn't relate to that well, and maybe we've since grown along with Woody. He is a very talented man, and I think his first films were infinitely more individual than my first films were.
ANDREWS: Well, I think Woody was allowed to do his growing up and maturing in public, but if you had done that, Blake, you would absolutely have been nailed for it.
EDWARDS: But I grew up in public, too, darling. I just think he was perceived to be far more individual, and I was perceived to be a director, who was not particularly talented-and then I grew up. And I think perhaps that's why Woody became the darling of the industry and I didn't.
PLAYBOY: If we can break in on this, would you mind telling us what the problem with Woody Allen seems to be?
ANDREWS: I don't have a problem with Woody. I'm just being a loyal wife, that's all.
EDWARDS: And I'm trying to be objective about myself. I wandered around in this business for a long time not fully aware that I was searching for something. I grew up late in terms of really having something to say, and I'm beginning to say it now. I think I'll probably be getting more recognition as time goes on, because I'm making better movies. I really don't compare myself with Woody Allen or talk about it, except that Julie brought it up, probably because she suddenly thought, Why does Woody Allen get certain-
EDWARDS: Right. Why does Woody get certain kudos and my husband does not, and I think my husband is equally talented. Right, Julie? [Andrews smiles in appreciation; Edwards us being lightly sardonic] Well, my wife and I agree totally. We know, don't we, darling?
ANDREWS: Oh, shut up.
PLAYBOY: Blake, you're currently at the top of your game as a writer-producer-director, but you originally broken into movies as an actor. Do you think you'll ever act again?
EDWARDS: No. You couldn't get me to.
ANDREWS: He's such a good actor, too.
EDWARDS: Never, never, never.
PLAYBOY: When was the last time you tried?
EDWARDS: God, I don't know. It's been years. I remember doing bits in Operation Petticoat and The Great Race.
ANDREWS: Your last tantrum was pretty good.
EDWARDS: He's asking about professional acting.
ANDREWS: Oh, I see.
PLAYBOY: We have no doubt that it was a professional performance.
ANDREWS: Oh, listen it was an Oscar winning performance -
EDWARDS: Oscar Homolka
PLAYBOY: While we don't doubt that you have a barely controllable temper, Blake, it seems to us that success may have taken the edge off your anger. Are you as angry as ever?
EDWARDS: No, and it's a blessing. My life is much more comfortable now.
PLAYBOY: What's responsible for the sudden pacification program?
EDWARDS: I've grown up a little bit. I'm not as much of a child as I used to be, and I've finally gotten wise enough to realize that anger is destructive. Also, I'd prefer my remaining years on this earth to be as comfortable as possible, and since a lot of things I can't control are going to make my life uncomfortable, why add to them? So I'm just trying to be as happy as I know how and to live for the moment-and to do the best I can at the moment.
PLAYBOY: What do you see for yourself in the future?
EDWARDS: I think there will come a time when I stop directing and write exclusively, and then do what I really love to do, which is to paint.
ANDREWS: Blake is a terrific, very diverse and very talented painter. He's not afraid to experiment. and he can do everything from a very good portrait of a member of the family to something utterly abstract and extraordinary. This peculiar, very special mercurial gentleman emerges in whatever he chooses to do.
PLAYBOY: Do you ever fume at the easel, Blake?|
EDWARDS: No. I do not fume at the easel. In fact, I'm more comfortable at the easel than I am at the typewriter.
PLAYBOY: While you're daubing away contentedly, Blake, what do you think Julie will be up to?
EDWARDS: Oh, she's going to be the Ethel Barrymore of Gstaad.
ANDREWS: I will probably change into some grand old lady for my kids and that will be the extent of my acting. [Suddenly starts laughing] Actually. I know exactly how it's going to be. Blake will be painting all the time and coming up with great wonders, and I shall be stumbling along, still trying to keep up with him, still trying to figure him out and still utterly amazed at all that he produces. I can see it now; things won't have changed that much, you see.
PLAYBOY: One final question, Julie.
ANDREWS: What, what, what?
PLAYBOY: Do you really think your husband has put all his demons to rest?
ANDREWS: Beats the shit out of me!