Why Julie Andrews is in Aquaman, not Mary Poppins Returns

Julie Andrews plays a sassy, massive tentacled CGI monster, the Karathen, who guards a trident that Aquaman/Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) needs for his superheroic adventures.
Julie Andrews plays a sassy, massive tentacled CGI monster, the Karathen, who guards a trident that Aquaman/Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) needs for his superheroic adventures.PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/JULIEANDREWS

LOS ANGELES • Actress Julie Andrews - unlike the Eliza Doolittle she once played on stage - has a knack for picking the winning horse.

So her choice over the weekend's box-office sweepstakes brings a delicious twist: Mary Poppins Returns - a sequel that lacks a cameo from Andrews, who starred in the original - goes head to head against Aquaman, a movie that does feature her voice.

She plays a sassy, massivetentacled CGI monster, the Karathen, who guards a trident that Aquaman/Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) needs for his superheroic adventures. Disney's Mary Poppins Returns, a sequel to Robert Stevenson's 1964 classic, opened in American theatres last Friday, with Emily Blunt stepping-in-time into the title role.

And among those making a cameo in Rob Marshall's new movie is Dick Van Dyke, who played the consonant-dropping Bert the chimney sweep in the original film.

Yet Van Dyke's appearance heightens the question - where is his former co-star?

Marshall told Variety at this month's premiere of Mary Poppins Returns that Andrews was offered an unspecified role in the movie.

"She immediately said no," he said.

"She said, 'This is Emily's show and I want her to run with this. She should run with this. This is hers. I don't want to be on top of that."

Andrews has worked on only one film besides Aquaman in the past seven years - returning to voice her mother character last year in the Despicable Me franchise.

 
 

Aquaman director James Wan, who directed movies such as The Conjuring (2013) and Furious 7 (2015), has said in interviews that the actress said yes to the DC Comics film because her grandson is a big Wan fan.

Besides, Andrews has played so many queens over the past two decades that the somewhat darker role could well be a fun change of pace.

Film history reminds fans never to bet against Andrews.

For the 1964 Oscar-winning film My Fair Lady, Rex Harrison and Stanley Holloway famously recreated the roles they originated in the Tony-winning smash of the same name. Yet Andrews - another Broadway and West End star from that stage musical - was coolly passed over for the movie. Instead, Audrey Hepburn inherited Andrews' role of Eliza the young Cockney flower peddler, with her singing dubbed by Marni Nixon.

But Andrews, with all her sweet-toned talent, would take back the spotlight. She moved on to 1964's Mary Poppins - her breakout film - and won the Best Actress Oscar. Hepburn, as charming as she was, was not even nominated.

Let's see whether Andrews again emerges as the "winner", at least, at the weekend's box office.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2018, with the headline 'Why Andrews is in Aquaman, not Mary Poppins Returns'. Print Edition | Subscribe