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Julie Andrews Tells the Tooth

The legendary star discusses her return to the big screen opposite The Rock in the new family film The Tooth Fairy.

By New York City
Julie Andrews in The Tooth Fairy
Julie Andrews in The Tooth Fairy
Julie Andrews has been a part of people's childhoods for over 50 years, thanks to her work in Cinderella, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, and The Princess Diaries. Starting on January 22, she'll become part of another generation's childhood memories when she appears in the role of Lily in the new family film The Tooth Fairy.

The story finds Andrews' character running fairy central, where hard-hitting hockey player Derek Thompson (played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is sentenced to one week's hard labor as a real tooth fairy, complete with the requisite tutu, wings, and magic wand. The film is full of special effects, and Andrews is genuinely impressed at how far film technology has evolved since she first danced on a London rooftop 45 years ago in Mary Poppins.

"I'm stunned at how far everybody has come in terms of special effects and digital effects and things that can be done," she says. But, the Oscar-winning actress is quick to add that what went before is just as impressive to her. "I'm equally staggered at how seamless Disney made it seem back then. You don't see any of the creakiness in terms of the effects in Mary Poppins," she says. "It's still amazing."

What has changed over the past 45 years is Andrews' glorious voice, which was ruined after a botched throat-surgery in 1998. While she does perform concerts where she tells lavish stories intermingled with music, doing a musical is out of the question. "I am not singing," she states emphatically. "I haven't had vocal rejuvenation or any of that."

The Tooth Fairy is ultimately about recapturing childhood innocence, and it's no surprise that the actress -- who has authored a series of popular children's books with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton -- knows the importance of nurturing a child's sense of wonder. It's even evident in how Andrews turned her own daughter's uncertainty into a call for imagination. "The question was 'Is it true that there was no Santa Claus?' and I said, 'I really don't know but it's the best game to play, isn't it? Even if it's true, or even if it's not true, don't we have fun with it?'"

The Julie Andrews persona is typified by sweetness and purity, but there's much more under the stereotype, notes the film's director, Michael Lembeck. "She's a great broad," he says. "She has total unawareness of her iconic stature and without even knowing it, she separates her real self from her iconic self and it makes her so much more charming and substantial as a person. You're in a restaurant with her and every head turns and she's totally unaware -- she's just gabbing and flailing and telling stories."

On screen or on stage, though, Andrews always fully inhabits her roles -- whether it's a singing nun or a cross-dressing nightclub singer. "That's what I'm supposed to do," she says. "After all, that's what acting is all about."


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