One of Walt Disney’s crowning achievements in film is the beloved Mary Poppins, played brilliantly by the great Julie Andrews. The Disney Legend has made a name for herself recently voicing characters in big franchises such as Despicable Me and Aquaman. However, she will always be remembered as the iconic nanny.
Vanity Fair recently chatted with Andrews, before receiving her AFI Life Achievement Award on Thursday, and she reminisced about how Walt Disney brought her aboard the project and even went as far as to accommodate production due to her pregnancy at the time.
“I’d never made a movie before! Poppins was the real thing. Disney came to see me when I was in Camelot on Broadway and asked if I’d like to come to Los Angeles and Hollywood and see the sketches that he’d done for a film he was making. I said, ‘Oh, Mr. Disney, I’m having a baby! I’m so sorry. I’m pregnant!” He said, ‘Well, that’s okay—we’ll wait.’ And so eventually, months later—because of course there was a ton of pre-production to be done—I and my baby and my husband all came to Hollywood. Disney was very decent and kind.”
Andrews went on to discuss what it was like working on a film with such detailed special effects, including the iconic animation sequences. She also shared what it was like working with fellow Disney Legend, Dick Van Dyke, who she is still friends with to this day.
“That’s very right. And a lot of waiting around for special effects to be perfected. It was a very good first film on which to learn one’s craft because all of that was something I would never have had a chance to come across. There was so much to be done, but it was a very happy situation. Dick Van Dyke, of course—what a sweetheart he is. The high stepping, those great legs of his that could do anything … We’ve stayed friends over the years. What’s not to love about Dick Van Dyke? He’s adorable. And the choreographers were wonderful and the kids were great. God, what can I say? It was a very important film for me and what a great, great chance I got.”
Julie Andrews goes into more detail on her time on Mary Poppins at Vanity Fair. She also discusses working on The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, The Princess Diaries, and Bridgerton.
About Mary Poppins
Released in 1964, the musical fantasy film was directed by Robert Stevenson and produced by Walt Disney, with songs written and composed by the Sherman Brothers. It is based on P. L. Travers’s book series Mary Poppins.
At the time of its release, was Disney’s highest-grossing film ever. It received a total of 13 Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture – a record for any film released by Walt Disney Studios – and won five: Best Actress for Andrews, Best Film Editing, Best Original Music Score, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Song for “Chim Chim Cher-ee”. Mary Poppins is considered Walt Disney’s crowning live-action achievement and is the only one of his films that earned a Best Picture nomination during his lifetime. In 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
A biographical drama on the making of the film, Saving Mr. Banks, was released on October 20, 2013. A sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, was released on December 19, 2018.