Thursday, September 29, 2011

Julie Andrews in Her Own Words: At a 2006 book event Q&A where she graciously answered questions she's been answering for decades

This is a continuation from the previous post wherein I describe my impressions of the great Julie Andrews who made a personal appearance in suburban Chicago in 2006. The following is my record of the Q&A session.

What is your favorite song?
“Whether it’s a book or a song, it’s all about the words.”

Advice for singers?
"Good luck will come your way – things float past your nose – so be ready and do your homework. Audition, etc. But don’t ever forget that what you do is for others. Always think of what you can do for them.

Favorite leading man?
(Asked by a pre-teen) Laughter. “She’s to be watched”
"They were all delicious, weren’t they? I think I would have to say that my favorite one is the one I live with every day (the now-late director, Blake Edwards). When he’s directing her in a love scene and he says “you can do better than that” she’s glad he doesn’t say the opposite.

Favorite of her films?
She wouldn’t actually say; she liked this one for the setting, this one for the character she played, this one for something else. “Of course, the Sound of Music, of course, Victor Victoria, of course Mary Poppins, but . . .”

Why is Julie Andrews so famous? (a very small child asked this)
“Beats me!” More laughter. "I’ve been very lucky in my life."

A deaf (I believe) teenaged boy held up a sign that said “Dear Julie: Can I give you a high-five? My hands are clean.”
She responded in the affirmative, first wiping her hands exaggeratedly on her jacket (as if to imply that her hands weren't), then gave him a high-five followed by a big hug.

Did you really slide down on a mattress (in Princess Diaries II)?
"Yes! Don’t you try it!"

Did you like being a queen in PD I&II?
"I did. I liked wearing all those beautiful gowns and jewelry."

How did you like doing “the walk” in PD (“the slump”) and would you do it for us now?
She did it to a roar of audience laughter.

Are they any roles that you didn’t do that you wished you had?
"I’m just glad to have done what I did."

How old were you when you started writing books?
Laughter. “Let’s just say I started 35 years ago.”

At this point in time, she was two-thirds of the way through writing her memoir and told us that she was inspired to do so after reading Moss Hart’s; there were things in there that she had no idea of although they'd had a close working relationship.

She explained that her author name is her married name (Julie Andrews Edwards) because her husband, Blake Edwards is the person who most encouraged her to begin writing. “How many of us here really think we can do something?” she asked. "We all need encouragement. But autographing books goes on forever because of it" (i.e., writing out both surnames in each book).

What’s your favorite book that you’ve written?
"The most recent one" (Admittedly her usual answer no matter what book she’s been writing).

How do you find the time to write books?
"You know the saying, if you want something done, ask a busy person."

What do you do when you’re not writing books?
She said something about taking walks, working in her garden. Then she said she had five children and seven grandchildren who she enjoyed.

How did “Mandy” (her first book) come about?
She was on vacation with all her step-kids and they were not being very tidy. Although they had plenty of people keeping house, Julie just wanted them to keep their rooms tidy and pick up after themselves, but they were failing to cooperate. So she set up this deal that if they wouldn’t cooperate, they would have a forfeiture. Then they said to her, what about you? She said, well, what am I doing wrong? They said “cussing.” (The whole audience cracked up). Then, on the stage, she mimed nearly tripping over something and exclaiming “Oh my goodness.” Her forfeiture, should they catch her cussing, was to write them a story. She was the first to loose. She initially thought she would just write out a 3-page fable but then saw it as an opportunity to bond with her new step-daughter and so she took some time with it. Two years later, “Mandy,” her first book, was published.

I can’t recall what the context was, but she said that she hadn’t had much education and she remarked this only in passing.

In response to something asked about her writing:
"It doesn’t seem like you can do it, but then you write a page and another and another."

I had difficulty at the time visualizing the great Julie Andrews sitting at a desk with a growing stack of lined pages as she attacked each word.

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