Dame Julie Andrews


Dame Julie Andrews
Having tea with Walt Disney as Mary Poppins in 1964. Photograph courtesy of Walt Disney Productions/ Album/ Alamy Stock Photo.

She spoke to TeaTime about her work and her love of tea.

TeaTime: What are some of your favorite teas?

Julie Andrews: I actually prefer a good black tea as opposed to some of the more exotic teas.

TeaTime: Do you have a special place to go for afternoon tea?

Julie Andrews: Obviously, there are so many wonderful places in London, but I enjoy the comfort of my own home for tea.

TeaTime: A lot of singers drink tea before they go on stage. Is that something you have done?

Julie Andrews: Absolutely, it’s very sustaining. However, I don’t use milk in my tea before performing.

TeaTime: You wrote that prerecording for a film was a very different experience than recording a Broadway cast album. Can you explain that?

Julie Andrews: In the movies, the songs are prerecorded long before the film begins, which is essential for keeping the quality and consistency of the voices. For Broadway, once the show is up and running and you know the songs, everything is then recorded the first week after the show opens.

TeaTime: During Mary Poppins you were raising an infant. How did that affect the dynamics of making a movie?

Julie Andrews: Family always came first for us, and if my children were having a good day, then it would be a good day on the set. I had a lot of help, which eased much of the worry of being away from them during work. I tried to take them with me whenever possible.

TeaTime: There were some high-flying scenes for you during Mary Poppins. What they were like?

Julie Andrews: Luckily these scenes were shot at the end of the movie, and some of the minor bruises I incurred didn’t hamper anything. I did crash to the floor once, but all in all, the props they used were ingenious, which gave the appearance I was really flying.

TeaTime: In Home Work, you describe some charming and delightful moments that you shared with the children of the cast in The Sound of Music . Do you have a favorite experience?

Julie Andrews: Three scenes really stand out. I first bonded with them during the bedroom scene singing, “My Favorite Things” as we would do silly things to each other off camera. Also, the scenes in the mountains often took a long time because of perpetual bad weather, which gave us a chance to get to know one another. Finally, singing together throughout the town was special as it made the town its own character.

TeaTime: The “Do-Re-Mi” montage in The Sound of Music is an iconic scene, which is artfully depicted in your book. What stands out most for you from that scene?

Julie Andrews: That is one of my favorite scenes, and everyone seemed to get into their roles very quickly. While filming that, the youngest girl tripped and fell. She was perfectly fine, so they kept that in. Also, climbing the steps with the sunlight filtering through was beautiful.

TeaTime: The Sound of Music presented many logistical challenges. What were some of the most daunting that you faced?

Julie Andrews: As I walked through the meadow in Austria, a helicopter that resembled a giant crab or grasshopper produced a down draft that knocked me down several times. After several takes, we finally got it right.

TeaTime: What led you to take the role in The Princess Diaries?

Julie Andrews: Actually, my manager thought it would be a good opportunity, and it turned out to be a fun role. I had some input into what the town of Genovia should look like and things of that nature.

TeaTime: What emotions are elicited when you watch your movies now?

Julie Andrews: I really don’t watch them that often, but when I do, I sometimes think I could have done something better. Or I’ll wonder how I actually knew how to do that scene.

TeaTime: Are there similarities between being an actress and an author?

Julie Andrews: Yes, there are some similarities, such as searching for an honesty as both an actress and as an author. Sometimes, my writing will reflect an influence that a particular film has had on me, and I’ll start writing the book as if it were a movie.

TeaTime: You began performing at a very young age. What career path would you have chosen had you not been successful as a singer and actress?

Julie Andrews: I flirted with maybe being a botanist, or perhaps owning a flower shop, or maybe being an author. But mostly, I just wanted to be the best I could possibly be whatever path I chose to take. I guess I had a huge need to be needed.

TeaTime: What advice can you offer aspiring performers?

Julie Andrews: Be as ready as possible at all times, because your opportunity may come when you least expect it. Be involved in many experiences, because often you’ll have no idea where they might lead.

TeaTime: Do you have any upcoming projects you can discuss?

Julie Andrews: I’ll be reprising the role of Gru’s mother, Marlene, from the Despicable Me franchise in Minions 2. Also, I’ll do the voice-over character of Lady Whistledown in the upcoming Bridgerton series for Netflix, produced by Shonda Rimes and her Shondaland Productions.