DUBAI 9 November 2019: Mary Poppins was a female superhero, Dame Julie Andrews said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
The interview follows the publication of her latest memoir.
Andrews discussed how she got the role in her first movie Mary Poppins, and how she felt winning the Best Actress Oscar for that performance. She also reflected on her late husband Blake Edward’s depression and how she too suffered from depression at points in her career. She told Amanpour, “I felt very overwhelmed … I felt that I needed some answers.”
Andrews explained that her depression was rooted in her desire for a real education: “My very kind therapist quickly realised that what I craved most of all was an education… I’d never been to school really. I travelled with a tutor but never went to high school, graduated high school, never went to college which I so wished I had done.”
On Mary Poppins being labelled as one of the first female superheroes, Andrews agrees saying “she was very forthright and forthcoming and stated her mind. I never thought of it that way!”
On whether Mary Poppins was one of the first female superheroes: “That’s true, especially these days with the Me Too movement and so many things happening. I never thought about that. She was very forthright and forthcoming and stated her mind… I never thought of it that way!”
On experiencing the dark side of life, and depression: “My husband was very depressive at times which I knew nothing about and had to learn about and understand and recognise and there was just so much that was new. We were building and raising a family, travelling a lot, making films together. There was a great deal going on.”
On her own experience of depression: “I happened to keep diaries in those days and that’s what I wrote one day between shows in Las Vegas and I just felt it very strongly that day. It wasn’t any one particular thing. I think it was working in Vegas, being away from home, not feeling completely at ease with the work or being away from home certainly. I felt very overwhelmed with another show to go… I felt that I needed some answers… I didn’t have depression very often, my husband did, and we were both in therapy anyway. Thank God for it. So many things happened because of it. I think I was a better wife, I think I might have been a better mum I hope, because of understanding myself.”
On missing out on an education: “My very kind therapist quickly realised that what I craved most of all was an education and I write in the book that he decided to give me one because I’d never really had one. I’d never been to school really. I travelled with a tutor but never went to high school, graduated high school, never went to college which I so wished I had done. So, this very bright man, much like Merlin, gave me this wonderful education.”
On being offered the role of Mary Poppins by Walt Disney: “I was gobsmacked and oh Mr Disney I’d love to but I’m so sorry I’m pregnant. And he said that’s alright we’ll wait. It was such a wonderful thing to say, and then he turned to my then husband Tony Walton and he said and what do you do young man? And Tony said well I am a designer of sets and costumes and he was relatively unknown in those days and Disney said well bring your portfolio with you when you come with Julie, and when he got there, he hired him on the spot to do all the sets and all the costumes in the movie. Imagine the two of us starting out in life and making movies. It was the greatest gift. Disney’s talent for spotting talent was amazing.”
On famously thanking My Fair Lady Producer Jack Warner, in her Golden Globes acceptance speech for Mary Poppins: “The producer Jack Warner, who produced the film of My Fair lady was of course at the Golden Globes because it was also nominated and just before I went on stage something made me say to the table where I was sitting, you know I suppose somewhere along the way I should thank Jack Warner because if I’d done My Fair Lady I wouldn’t have been able to do Mary Poppins, so immediately all my chums said ‘Oh do it Julie, do it’ and I thought ‘no I can’t do that I’m so new in Hollywood’ but when I got up there some wicked impulse made me say ‘and finally I have to thank Mr Warner for making all this possible in the first place’ and there was this awful silence and I thought oh my god my career has ended and then they burst out laughing including Mr Warner who was a good sport about it. He got what I was about.”
On whether winning an Oscar is the best moment of an actor’s career: “Most amazing that’s for sure. The doing is the best and the rest is just the icing on the cake and how lucky can one get if you’re lucky enough to be in that position; but truly everything is collaborative, and you learn so much doing. It’s such a wonderfully interesting life. At least I think so.”
On losing her singing voice: “I mourned the loss tremendously. I miss singing hugely but I probably, thank god it happened at a later age in my life, because I probably would have stopped fairly soon anyway.”