Six Decades After ‘Mary Poppins,’ Julie Andrews is ‘Gobsmacked’ by a Hollywood Award
Julie Andrews was “gobsmacked” to see her career celebrated at a glitzy Hollywood event Thursday, nearly 60 years after preaching qualities of patience and modesty as Mary Poppins and governess Maria.
“I didn’t know or expect it would ever arrive,” the 86-year-old told AFP on the red carpet before receiving the American Film Institute’s life achievement award in Los Angeles.
“But that’s probably for the best, since you can’t walk around expecting accolades and such.”
Andrews earned the Academy Award for Best Actress for her debut big-screen appearance, “Mary Poppins,” in 1964, after quickly rising from a child singer touring British music halls to a Broadway diva recognized by Walt Disney.
Andrews cemented her place among Hollywood’s elite a year after playing the magical and spotless nanny in “The Sound of Music,” while still in her twenties.
Five of the Von Trapp children, a wealthy Austrian family in need of governess Maria’s singing lessons and assistance avoiding the Nazis, attended the ceremony on Thursday, as did four of Andrews’ real-life progeny.
Andrews went on to star in a number of films in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, some of which had racy — even topless — sequences that surprised audiences who were more accustomed to her straight-laced roles.
Queen Elizabeth II awarded her a Dame in 2000 for her contributions to performing and entertainment.
Andrews’ career was rejuvenated with “The Princess Diaries” (2001) and its sequel in 2004, following a personal calamity in which her voice chords were destroyed during an operation.
Her roles as Queen Lillian in the “Shrek” animated film trilogy, Gru’s mother in the “Despicable Me” franchise, and Lady Whistledown in the highly popular Netflix series “Bridgerton” garnered her a new generation of young fans.
Andrews was supposed to receive the AFI award — described as “the highest honor for a career in film” — in 2020 and 2021, but the ceremony was postponed both times because to the epidemic.
“I was gobsmacked when they asked me even two and a half years ago — and Covid was what kept us from doing it then,” she added.