She didn’t arrive in a gilded carriage or wear a tiara, but royalty nonetheless came to Gig Harbor on Saturday. Hollywood royalty.
Screen and stage legend Julie Andrews lent her star power to the Gig Harbor Film Festival when she accepted the event’s Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of her late husband, film director Blake Edwards.
After a Q-and-A session with the sold-out crowd of 300 who paid $75 each to attend the evening Andrews presented one of the films she worked on with Edwards: 1982’s “Victor Victoria.”
About 25 people, from teens to seniors, milled around the festival’s offices at the Galaxy Theaters in Uptown Gig Harbor, hoping to catch a glimpse of the star of “The Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins.” Some fans clutched musical album covers and signing pens.
Andrews’ connection to Gig Harbor is through resident David DePatie, who created the animated “Pink Panther” character for Edwards. DePatie presented the award to Andrews on Saturday evening.
Andrews’ appeal cuts across all generations. In addition to new generations discovering her ’60s musicals and other films, she’s still working, making films from “The Princess Diaries” to animated “Shrek.”
Before the presentation, Andrews, looking resplendent in a dark blue pants suit, sat down to answer reporters’ questions about her career, her late husband and the state of the modern musical.
“How lucky can a girl get?” Andrews said in that unmistakable, British-accented voice when asked about her broad appeal. “I happened to make three films that appeal to all generations.”
Her films, she said, are passed down from generation to generation as part of a shared experience. “Every seven years, there’s a new generation.”
Andrews and Edwards were married 41 years until his death last year. Andrews attributes their long Hollywood marriage to living in the moment. “We said we’d take it a day at a time. That’s a very good motto.” Between them, the couple now have eight grandchildren, she said.
The couple made eight films together, which Andrews remembered fondly Saturday. The evening’s film, “Victor Victoria,” was emblematic of Edwards’ eye, Andrews said. Unhappy with locations, the director shot the film entirely on two sound stages at England’s Pinewood Studios.
As for the role in “Victor Victoria” where she plays a woman pretending to be a man impersonating a woman (a set-up even Andrews had to pause to make sure she got it right), she said, “(It) stood me on my head so many times.” She spent a good deal of time watching the men on the set to learn how to act like one, she said.
“There was one wonderful day when they accepted me in my male tuxedo as one of the guys. That was the ultimate compliment.”
Andrews has a prolific children’s book career (with her daughter). But her one autobiography only covers her early career, ending in 1962. She said she has no plans to publish a follow-up, saying her post-1962 career is public knowledge.
“I could write a very different book,” she mused, but insisted nothing is in the pipeline except for more children’s books.
Asked about the state of the modern musical, Andrews said the pickings are slim and she seldom finds anything worth seeing.
“Nothing on screen these days, sadly.”
She attributes the lack of quality work to the high cost of production but did single out Rob Marshall’s “Chicago” as being the last musical she really enjoyed. “It was a huge risk, and it worked,” she said.
She’s also a fan of Stephen Sondheim’s work. “I think he’s brilliant.”
Andrews arrived Saturday on a private plane and is staying at a local residence. Though it was her first time in Gig Harbor, Andrews said she and Edwards visited the San Juan Islands on more than one occasion.
“It’s God’s country,” she said before heading out to meet her public, one of whom was Duane Chase of Seattle.
Though he now has gray hair, Chase might have looked a little familiar to the fans waiting for Andrews. He played 13-year-old Kurt Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music.”
Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541 email@example.com