Julie Andrews’ Husband Thought Mary Poppins Was a ‘Little Bit Wicked on the Inside’

There are a few actors from Hollywood’s golden age that have managed to make an impact on several generations of moviegoers. Julie Andrews is one of those rare stars, an actor who burst onto the scene with classics like The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins and proceeded to make interesting career decisions into the 2000s and beyond.

While many fans know Andrews for her role in The Princess Diaries, those of a certain generation know her best as Mary Poppins, the precise and somewhat magical English nanny. In a recent interview, Andrews opened up about the making of the iconic 1964 musical, revealing why her ex-husband, who worked on the film, thought that the character of Mary Poppins was “a little bit wicked.”

Julie Andrews smiling
Julie Andrews | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

‘Mary Poppins’ is a classic musical

Andrews started her career as a singing sensation, impressing dignitaries and celebrities alike with her incredible vocal range. In the early ’50s, Andrews made her Broadway debut, acting and singing in shows like The Boy Friend and My Fair Lady. Andrews made her feature film debut in the 1964 film Mary Poppins, a high-profile adaptation of the popular book series by P.L. Travers.

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The film, a unique combination of live-action and fun animated sequences, told the story of two children in London who struggle to connect with their overworked father. Mary Poppins, the magical nanny who flies into the city on a breeze, is not only able to mend the relationship between the children and their father but helps to establish confidence in the children as well. 

Dame Julie Andrews’ husband believed Mary Poppins was a ‘little bit wicked’

Andrews became a star thanks to the success of the film Mary Poppins, going on to appear in a string of popular movies. The actor worked hard to make the magical nanny a fully-fleshed-out character, even collaborating with her then-husband, Tony Walton, who worked as a costume designer on the film.

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Andrews opened up about how Walton’s vision helped to bring Mary Poppins to life.

“Tony was hugely talented and creating my costumes, he would discuss them with me and he said, ‘You know, you’re very prim and proper on the outside, but I think Mary Poppins has a kind of secret life, maybe, and I’m gonna give her, when you open your coat or when you turn and dance, you’ll see marvelously-colored petticoats and wonderful linings of your clothes.”

Julie Andrews in an interview with Vanity Fair via YouTube

“He said, ‘because I think that’s what gives her pleasure,'” Andrews recounted. “‘Very formal on the outside and a little bit wicked on the inside, so to speak.’ And it completely gave me a clue as to her character. Big, big help for me.” 

Julie Andrews is a beloved cultural icon

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Clearly, Andrews was open to advice when creating the character of Mary Poppins – and it is perhaps that collaborative approach that helped to make the film such a big hit when it was released. As one of Disney’s most popular and enduring films, Mary Poppins is now considered to be a cinema classic that holds up remarkably well, even more than five decades after it first hit theaters. It has spawned a sequel film, numerous stage productions, and a host of merchandise and brand partnerships.

As for Julie Andrews, she is a cinema icon in her own right – a star who shines brightly due not just to her ability to create interesting characters but for her innate grace, dignity, and charm.

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