Julie Andrews Reveals ‘Times of Sadness’ Throughout Her Career in New Memoir

Actress Julie Andrews is one of Hollywood’s living legends. Starring in a myriad of films that showcased her iconic singing voice, Andrews is beloved by fans of all ages.

The Academy Award winner is likely remembered most for her starring roles in the classic films Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Andrews just released a new memoir, sharing some behind-the-scenes secrets from those movies as well as personal struggles she endured.

Actress Julie Andrews
Julie Andrews | Alessandra Benedetti – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Starting in Hollywood

Though Andrews has remained quite busy recently with voice roles in animated films including the Shrek and Despicable Me franchises, her memoir begins in Los Angeles with her landing the title role in Mary Poppins, for which she won an Oscar.

Andrews wrote “Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years” with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. “It was painful, funny, we wept at times, we laughed our heads off, we drank endless cups of tea. And we worked,” Andrews said, according to People. “It was about a 2½, 3-year project when all is said and done. It was a lot of writing with my daughter, which I enjoyed very, very much.” The two have collaborated in the past on several children’s books.

Film fun facts

Andrews reveals some secrets from the sets of her famous films. One example is sharing that in the iconic opening scene of The Sound of Music, she was knocked down nine times by the filming helicopter’s backwash, as reported by Deadline.

The actress raved about her Mary Poppins co-star Dick Van Dyke, saying the two had an immediate bond. “We hit it off from day one,” Andrews wrote of Van Dyke, according to USA Today. “He was dazzlingly inventive, always in a sunny mood, and he often made me roar with laughter at his antics.”

She also admits to being surprised at herself onscreen when she sees the infamous 1964 film. “If I happen to catch the film [Mary Poppins] these days, I’m struck by the seeming lack of self-consciousness on my part; a freedom and ease that came from total ignorance and flying by the seat of my pants (no pun intended!),” she wrote. 

Andrews also commented on the difference in technology compared to today, recalling her scene with the animated penguins and in the carousel sequence. “It took forever to shoot that section, because the horses had to disconnect from one track and then travel along another, much like a train changing rails,” Andrews recalled. “We waited hours for the equipment to be readied, then once we got on the horses, we shot each scene many times until the technical crew was content that they had what they needed.” 

Not all a jolly holiday

The Oscar winner also reveals that working on several major motion pictures in succession to then being in the press spotlight was a lot to take in as a young actress. “I made three films and was having a wonderful time because none of them had been released, so I was learning about movies and working hard and all of that,” she said, according to People. “And then suddenly they were all released. And then, everybody was talking about it. It was an assault, really, for awhile. I’m not complaining, believe me.”

Despite her career taking off, Andrews struggled with feelings of despair. “There were times of sadness and many things like that,” she shared. The film star wanted to be transparent in her new book so readers would get a glimpse of her true self. “I wanted to be as frank as I could,” she said. “If I’m going to write a memoir, I might as well be frank as much as I can.”

Andrews gave her book a title that reflects what she was experiencing during those years. “So many things were happening at the time. That’s why I call it “Home Work,” because it’s about the work I was learning to do on movies which I’d never done before,” she said. “And also, homework on myself, to a certain extent — how was I growing, what I was learning in life.”

“Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years” is on sale now.