Julie Andrews on Voicing Shrek 2


In a movie career stretching over forty years, you would think actress, singer and author Dame Julie Andrews would have no more worlds left to conquer, but she’s finally found one: lending her voice to an animated character! Julie brings her warmth and charm to the part of Queen Lillian, mother of Cameron Diaz’s Princess Fiona in Shrek 2.

Although Julie first stepped into a recording studio as a singer at the age of 12, she says voiceover work was a challenge unlike anything she’s faced in show business. “It was like learning a whole new craft,” says Julie. “You’re flying by the seat of your pants. You don’t see anything. It’s just vocal and they ask you for endless changes on a single line. They say,’Could you make it more friendly? Could you say it more lovingly? Could you say it angrily?’ and then they pick which take they need when they discover what it is they need. You just put yourself in the director’s hands and hope you’ve given them something that they can use.”

Since actors in animation often find themselves performing their parts alone in the studio without their co-stars, Julie felt lucky that she actually got to work face to face with John Cleese, who played her husband King Harold. Julie talks fondly of the legendary comic actor, who she had never met until the day they recorded together. “We had a great day. I liked him immediately. He’s funny and quick and we talked nonstop.”

Andrews was a big fan of the first Shrek, pointing out that “it’s got a wonderful edge,” but adds she believes the new sequel is even better. Another movie she believes improves upon the first is the upcoming Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. She says it was an easy decision to join the production, due to her affection for director Gary Marshall. “The set is a joy. You are utterly, utterly safe in his hands. It’s the most horrendously long hours and you think you’ll never survive and then you’ve had the best time of your life!” Julie says the plot features more adventure than the first “Princess Diaries” and a good storyline, centered on the discovery that in order to be queen, Anne Hathaway’s character must be married. Will Mia Thermopolis find true love in a royal wedding?

But two summer movies isn’t all that Julie has on her plate. She’s also contributed commentary and interviews to the upcoming 40th anniversary DVD edition of Mary Poppins and oversees a publishing imprint for children called the Julie Andrews Collection through which she issues her own work (due out this Tuesday is her latest young adult novel, “Dragon”), all the while sharing time with her husband of 34 years, director Blake Edwards. Julie says it’s no big secret or trick to having a happy marriage and a thriving career. You just have to take it one day at a time.