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Julie Andrews on Revisiting Her Most Famous Roles and Painful Memories for Home Work

I was moved by the way you wrote about the complicated relationship dynamic between your daughter Emma, from your first marriage, and your second husband Blake Edwards. It can be tricky to articulate those divided loyalties in a blended family…

Marriage is a big up-and-down graph. It’s a wondrous thing, but it’s probably the hardest work I’ve ever done, I think. [That period] was a struggle—it’s hard because, being a mother, you know that you love your husband and you understand where he’s coming from, but you have such a strong bond with your kids [that] you want them to either understand or not be unhappy. It does pull one apart in many, many ways, but [Emma] has the most generous heart. As we wrote the book, we grew. She certainly seemed to embrace anything I offered, in terms of insight. We had a wonderful relationship before [writing this book]. It’s not a better relationship [now], but certainly very deep, and there’s really nothing she doesn’t know.

What did you learn about your daughter through this writing process?

She has a hugely generous heart, is very smart, and a much better writer than I am. She’s also very current in life. I look at life from a slightly older vantage point, so I rely on her to tell me what’s appropriate sometimes, and what isn’t.

What did she deem inappropriate?

The world is changing so fast—things like the #MeToo movement, and those kinds of things, she’s very clear about. I needed a bit of an education about it because I haven’t thought too much about it. Although I’m aware of it, she’s much more current in her thinking with it, so those kinds of things were tremendously helpful.

It must have been a difficult time to be a woman in Hollywood when you were beginning your career. Did you encounter any of the kind of men we hear about now?

Happily, no. I’ll tell you why: because I think I married Blake fairly soon. I mean, I’d done like three or four films when I met him, and worked with him pretty exclusively for a while. I think people respected that, and honestly, I was so damn busy. I don’t think anybody felt they had time to do anything inappropriate. I was very, very fortunate in that way. Not in my youth, but certainly more as I grew older.

Were you surprised in recent years to hear the extent of these casting couch stories and related allegations?

Well, obviously I had heard about them. Rumors fly around, as you well know. So no—not surprised. Just grateful that I wasn’t embroiled in any of it. More than that, I think with the way life was unfolding in general…I write in the book about Charlie Manson and that terrible moment when we all realized we were living with this madman that was careening around Los Angeles doing terrible, terrible things to people. It made us all, at the time, funnily enough, very aware that we needed to be more careful, and life wasn’t as free as it should be.

Circling back to the writing process: Did you go back and watch all of your films to jog your memory?

We did watch most of the movies together—Emma and I reacquainted ourselves with them. I also read a lot of other people’s memoirs and biographies, and looked through my letters and photo albums and diaries. My first husband, Tony, with whom I’m still very close, was most helpful in giving me some of his day-to-day diaries.

I love picturing you having a Julie Andrews movie marathon…. What did you think when watching your films?

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