Hollywood's favorite silver-screen soprano, Julie Andrews, recently received the Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild. Andrews, 71, an Oscar-winner who is most often associated with The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins, runs a small publishing company called the Julie Andrews Collection (www.julieandrewscollection.com).
Here is a recent interview with Andrews:
Q. You recorded a song for your latest children's book, The Great American Mousical. Isn't that a big deal since the throat surgery?
A. Right. Yeah, it was. It was suggested that one of the games for the Mousical book needed a song. Of course, it was "Would Julie like to try it?" And I said, "If you put it in a low enough key and use the five notes that I do have left to me, I'll run it up the flagpole." With a little bit of technical wizardry, as well, I happily was able to pull it off. There was an understanding if I couldn't, they'd move on from there.
Q. And do you still hum around the house?
A. No (laughing). Very little. I miss the real singing, believe me. I don't have that soprano voice anymore because of the surgery, and I miss it enormously. But my lovely daughter, Emma, with whom I work and publish our books, said to me the other day, "Mom, you just found a different way to use your voice." And that is through the books. It suddenly fell into place for me.
Q. Did coming from such humble beginnings initially add a layer of insecurity when you first began performing?
A. I think you could honestly say that performing itself, in a way, gave me an identity. You know, I was raised as a singer. That was my big day job. I started singing when I was about 7, and they discovered I had this freak voice, which became a kind of gimmick.
Q. Did you ever regret the topless scene in S.O.B.?
A. No, and I'll tell you why. It was written 10 years before I actually got to make it. I had a lot of years to think about it, and it actually was a very, very valid part of the movie. It wasn't gratuitous. It was so built into the character.... And so knowing that I was directed by my husband (Blake Edwards) and in good hands, in safe hands, it wasn't quite as daunting as it may have seemed.
Q. You and Blake Edwards have been married more than 35 years. Has it been all tea and roses?
A. Thirty-seven. No, I don't think any true marriage ever is. It's like a graph. It goes up and down. But truly we both wanted it to work, and we both have enormous respect for each other, and it's fun. We vowed we'd take it a day at a time, and that was our secret, I think.