Julie Andrews Almost Didn’t Take ‘The Sound of Music’ Role For 1 Big Fear

Julie Andrews is an Oscar-winning actor who is known and loved by audiences all around the world. Andrews, who got her start as a singer, acted in a wide variety of stage and Broadway shows before transitioning to a film career.

With roles in movies such as Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, The Americanization of Emily, and The Princess Diaries, Andrews has had one of the most legendary careers of anyone in show business. Still, there was a time when Andrews hesitated to accept one of her most iconic roles, and it took a good bit of convincing before she finally decided that she would take the role, and accept the risk of being typecast. 

How did Julie Andrews get her start in show business?

Julie Andrews visit BuzzFeed's "AM To DM" on October 15, 2019 in New York City.
Julie Andrews | Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Andrews was born Julia Elizabeth Wells in 1935. Raised in England, Andrews took her surname from her stepfather, according to Biography. A talented singer, even as a child, Andrews started performing on stage when she was just a young child.

After she became a star in England, Andrews began performing in stage shows in the United States, and after she appeared in the Broadway show The Boy Friend, Hollywood executives took notice of the young star.

Andrews popularized the role of Eliza Doolittle in the state show My Fair Lady — but although she vigorously campaigned for the role of Eliza in the film version, the part went to Audrey Hepburn instead. Reportedly, executives for the film wanted a more seasoned actress.

While Andrews was disappointed, she didn’t give up on her film career, and in short order, she landed several major film roles. 

Julie Andrews received acclaim for her work in ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘The Sound of Music’

After missing out on the role of Eliza Doolittle, Andrews went to work for Walt Disney, playing the mysterious nanny Mary Poppins in the film of the same name. Andrews threw herself into the role, singing the songs that went on to become industry standards.

When it was released in 1964, Mary Poppins became a major hit, and critics praised Andrews’ performance. The film became the highest-grossing movie of the year and received a slew of awards and honors — including the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Her work in the film opened the door for other major movie roles, and only one year after Mary Poppins was released, Andrews appeared in the smash-hit musical, The Sound of Music. As Maria, a young nun-in-training who becomes a nanny to the seven rowdy children of a charismatic, stern captain, Andrews scored a nomination for an Academy Award, as well as a slew of other honors. 

Why was Julie Andrews hesitant to accept the role in ‘The Sound of Music’?

These days, Julie Andrews is best known for her work in Mary Poppins as well as in The Sound of Music. Still, those instances weren’t the only times that Andrews played a nanny on film.

In 1964, the same year as Mary Poppins was released, Andrews appeared in the movie The Americanization of Emily, in which she played a young driver who moonlights as a nanny. After playing a nanny two times in a row, Andrews was hesitant to accept the part that she made so famous in The Sound of Music

As Andrews later wrote in her memoir: “It would be my second nanny role, almost on the heels of the first. Arthur (Park) very much encouraged me to accept the job. And I’ll be forever grateful for the nudge over the fence that he and Bob (Wise) gave this nervous and insecure young woman.”