Julie Andrews reveals what drew her to Mary Poppins role… five decades after winning Oscars

Julie Andrews has had a slew of memorable roles as a star of the stage and the screen over a seven-decade career.

But, arguably, none of them are more iconic than Mary Poppins, the Walt Disney movie directed by Robert Stevenson, with songs written and composed by the Sherman Brothers.

The 1964 film, which combines live-action and animation, was actually Andrews’ first feature film of her career, which ended up winning her the Academy Award for Best Actress.

In a new interview with Vanity Fairthe Surrey, England native revealed that it was the music that first grabbed her attention and drew her to the role.

Music to her ears: Julie Andrews, 86, revealed that it was the music of Mary Poppins, which was written by the Sherman Brothers, that first drew her in to want to play the iconic role

‘It was a brand new thing in my life that I’d never done before. It was for Walt Disney, of course, and the songs in Mary Poppins had a kind of Vaudeville quality to them,’ the actress, 86, explained.

‘I think it’s what attracted me to the role, because all that kind of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and Jolly Holiday music was very much like the kind of things that you hear in English vaudeville.’

Considering that her parents were vaudeville performers and that she, herself, was trained in the genre while growing up, it’s easy to see why Andrews would be attracted to the role and the project as a whole.

Along with the familiarity of the music, the actress also revealed how the nanny’s costume design, which came from the mind of her then-husband, Tony Walton, helped her grasp the magical qualities of the Mary Poppins character.

Music caught her attention: 'It was a brand new thing in my life that I'd never done before.  It was for Walt Disney, of course, and the songs in Mary Poppins had a kind of Vaudeville quality to them,' the actress, 86, explained in a new interview with Vanity Fair

Music caught her attention: ‘It was a brand new thing in my life that I’d never done before. It was for Walt Disney, of course, and the songs in Mary Poppins had a kind of Vaudeville quality to them,’ the actress, 86, explained in a new interview with Vanity Fair

What a debut!  Andrews made her feature film debut in Mary Poppins, a performance that resulted in her winning the Academy Award for Best Actress

What a debut! Andrews made her feature film debut in Mary Poppins, a performance that resulted in her winning the Academy Award for Best Actress

Andrews recalled that Walton explained to her in depth why Mary Poppins had such fun fabrics lining the inside of her clothes, but no crazy outward designs.

‘Because I think that’s what gives her pleasure. Very formal on the outside, and a little bit wicked on the inside,’ Walton said of Mary Poppins at the time, which turned out to be invaluable information for Andrews.

‘It completely gave me a clue as to her character. Big, big help for me,’ the actress would confess.

From a screenplay by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi, based on PL Travers’s book series Mary Poppins, the film version was released in August 1964 to critical acclaim and commercial success.

It went on to become the highest-grossing movie of 1964, and receive 13 Academy Awards nominations, a record for any movie released by Walt Disney Studios, winning five, including Best Original Music Score.

Iconic: One year after starring in Mary Poppins, Andrews starred as Maria von Trapp in The Sound Of Music, which has also become an iconic film in its own right

Iconic: One year after starring in Mary Poppins, Andrews starred as Maria von Trapp in The Sound Of Music, which has also become an iconic film in its own right

A-lister: Over the course of the next 20 years after Mary Poppins, Andrews worked with such acclaimed directors as husband Blake Edwards, George Roy Hill and Alfred Hitchcock;  she is pictured with co-str Paul Newman in Hitchcock's Torn Curtain (1966)

A-lister: Over the course of the next 20 years after Mary Poppins, Andrews worked with such acclaimed directors as husband Blake Edwards, George Roy Hill and Alfred Hitchcock; she is pictured with co-str Paul Newman in Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain (1966)

Leading lady mainstay: The actress would work with her late husband, Blake Edwards, in several films that included Victor Victoria (1982)

Leading lady mainstay: The actress would work with her late husband, Blake Edwards, in several films that included Victor Victoria (1982)

After starring alongside her parents as a child actress and singer, and appearing on the West End in 1948, Andrews rose to prominence starring in such Broadway musicals as My Fair Lady (1956) and Camelot (1960).

The role in Mary Poppins (1964) kicked off her film career, and was quickly followed up the next year with the role Maria von Trapp in The Sound Of Music (1965).

Over the course of the next 20 years she worked with such acclaimed directors as husband Blake Edwards, George Roy Hill and Alfred Hitchcock, and starred in films like Hawaii (1966), Torn Curtain (1966), Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), Star ! (1968), The Tamarind Seed (1974), 10 (1979), SOB (1981), Victor/Victoria (1982), That’s Life (1986) and Duet For One (1986).

More recently, Andrews has voiced the narrator Lady Whistledown in the two seasons of the Netflix series Bridgerton (2020-present).

Still on the job: More recently, Andrews has voiced the narrator Lady Whistledown in the two seasons of the Netflix series Bridgerton (2020-present)

Still on the job: More recently, Andrews has voiced the narrator Lady Whistledown in the two seasons of the Netflix series Bridgerton (2020-present)

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