Julie Andrews at AFI honor: 'I've been the most lucky lady'

Actor Julie Andrews accepts the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award during a gala honoring her, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

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Actor Julie Andrews accepts the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award during a gala honoring her, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Julie Andrews has reflected on her life and career at the American Film Institute, which last week gave her its life achievement award

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Julie Andrews was honored by the American Film Institute last week for a Hollywood career that couldn’t have started more supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-ly — with an Oscar-winning performance in a film that would become an instant classic: “Mary Poppins.”

Before the AFI Life Achievement ceremony, which airs Thursday night at 8 p.m. Eastern on TNT, the 86-year-old Andrews recalled landing her first major movie gig.

“Walt Disney gave me my first big chance and I learned so much on that film. It was a wonderful film to learn the craft of moviemaking on because there were so many special effects, so much waiting around, so many complicated things to do because it was animated as well," Andrews told The Associated Press." It was a wonderful learning film to start my career with.”

A musical adaptation inspired by the beloved P.L. Travers children’s novels about a magical nanny, it first hit theaters in late August 1964. Quickly, “Mary Poppins” was a commercial and critical smash, becoming the year’s highest-grossing film released in North America . It earned 13 Oscar nominations including best picture, and won in five categories, including best actress for Andrews.

Just six months after “Poppins” hit big screens, along came what would be not only Andrews’ biggest hit — but one of the all-time box-office successes: the adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s stage smash “The Sound of Music.” Andrews played the real-life Maria von Trapp, the nun-turned-schoolteacher-turned-stepmother and matriarch of the Trapp Family Singers.

Originally released in early March 1965, the film would stay in cinemas for more than four years. And while the critics weren’t nearly as kind to it as they were to “Poppins,” the academy again showed its love, with 10 nominations and five wins. There was no statuette for Andrews, but winning best picture was a great consolation.

On both the arrivals line and at the ceremony, Andrews spoke of “Sound of Music,” but only in general terms. “I’ve been the most lucky lady, because happening to be in the right place at the right time and having the wonderful directors and people that I’ve worked with and just learning my craft and learning what it’s all about. I never expected it to be like that.”

Fortunately, the celebrity guests inside the AFI tribute made it clear that “The Sound of Music” and Andrews are among their favorite things.

Viewers will discover recording artist Gwen Stefani says she idolized Andrews since childhood, after seeing “The Sound of Music” at the cinema with her parents. Decades later, Stefani was in a studio writing with Pharrell Williams, in a session that eventually resulted in Stefani’s 2006 hit “Wind it Up.” The tune ended up incorporating elements of a key “Sound of Music” song, "The Lonely Goatherd,” which didn’t thrill Williams.

“Obviously, I had to fight with Pharrell to get that in there,” Stefani recalled. “And it was a big fantasy of mine to be able to have that incredible sample in my song — it made the song. And it’s a dream come true. So, I’ve always been way too nervous to meet my idol. But tonight’s the night and I’m ready. I am beyond honored. I can’t believe this is happening.”

The special includes guests representing chapters of Andrews’ careers through the decades, including longtime friend and TV partner Carol Burnett, whose 1971 “Julie and Carol at Lincoln Center” won them Emmys; actor Hector Elizondo, her co-star in the two “Princess Diaries” films (2001, 2004); Steve Carell, who worked with Andrews on the upcoming animated “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” and Bo Derek who portrayed the titular perfect “10” in the 1979 comedy written and directed by Andrews’ late husband and frequent collaborator Blake Edwards. He and Andrews were married for 41 years, until his death in 2010.

“When Julie talks about her decades with Blake, of the love they had for each other, you can tell that’s not acting, that’s real, that’s authentic, and it’s very, very rare,” Derek said.

Including “10,” Edwards directed Andrews in eight films, also including the 1982 musical “Victor/Victoria,” earning seven Oscar nominations, including one for Andrews, with a win for the music by Henry Mancini and Leslie Bricusse.

While accepting her AFI Award, Andrews thanked everyone from her directors to a studio security guard for her success. “And I really honestly mean that, she said, adding, “My husband Blake...” Andrews paused for moment. “I mean... thank you.”

As for Andrews’ professional legacy?

In addition the AFI’s turf of film and TV, there are award-winning recordings, books, Broadway and West End appearances.

“I just hope I gave a little pleasure,” she told The Associated Press. “That’s the only legacy I would be happy about. That’s what it’s all about. It’s the giving. And I just hope that, you know, they had a good time.”

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Follow Mike Cidoni Lennox on Twitter at twitter.com/CidoniLennox

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Actor Julie Andrews looks on from her seat during the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring her, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Actor Julie Andrews looks on from her seat during the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring her, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Combined ShapeCaption
Actor Julie Andrews looks on from her seat during the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring her, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Combined ShapeCaption
Comedian Carol Burnett, left, welcomes actor Julie Andrews to the stage at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Comedian Carol Burnett, left, welcomes actor Julie Andrews to the stage at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Combined ShapeCaption
Comedian Carol Burnett, left, welcomes actor Julie Andrews to the stage at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Credit: Chris Pizzello

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Actor Julie Andrews is seen on a stage monitor reacting to a joke by Steve Carell during the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring her, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Actor Julie Andrews is seen on a stage monitor reacting to a joke by Steve Carell during the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring her, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Combined ShapeCaption
Actor Julie Andrews is seen on a stage monitor reacting to a joke by Steve Carell during the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring her, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Credit: Chris Pizzello

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A performer dressed as the movie character Mary Poppins, top left, is suspended above the audience at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, seen at bottom right, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Andrews starred in the 1964 film "Mary Poppins." (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

A performer dressed as the movie character Mary Poppins, top left, is suspended above the audience at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, seen at bottom right, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Andrews starred in the 1964 film "Mary Poppins." (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Combined ShapeCaption
A performer dressed as the movie character Mary Poppins, top left, is suspended above the audience at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, seen at bottom right, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Andrews starred in the 1964 film "Mary Poppins." (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Credit: Chris Pizzello

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Cynthia Erivo performs at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Cynthia Erivo performs at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

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Cynthia Erivo performs at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Credit: Chris Pizzello

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A performer dressed as the movie character Mary Poppins flies past a picture of actor Julie Andrews portraying Mary Poppins in the 1964 film, at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

A performer dressed as the movie character Mary Poppins flies past a picture of actor Julie Andrews portraying Mary Poppins in the 1964 film, at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Combined ShapeCaption
A performer dressed as the movie character Mary Poppins flies past a picture of actor Julie Andrews portraying Mary Poppins in the 1964 film, at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Credit: Chris Pizzello

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Gwen Stefani addresses the audience at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Gwen Stefani addresses the audience at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Combined ShapeCaption
Gwen Stefani addresses the audience at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Credit: Chris Pizzello

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Julie Andrews arrives at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Honoring Julie Andrews on Thursday, June 9, 2022, at The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Credit: Jordan Strauss

Julie Andrews arrives at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Honoring Julie Andrews on Thursday, June 9, 2022, at The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Credit: Jordan Strauss

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Julie Andrews arrives at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Honoring Julie Andrews on Thursday, June 9, 2022, at The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Credit: Jordan Strauss

Credit: Jordan Strauss

Combined ShapeCaption
Julie Andrews arrives at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Honoring Julie Andrews on Thursday, June 9, 2022, at The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Credit: Jordan Strauss

Julie Andrews arrives at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Honoring Julie Andrews on Thursday, June 9, 2022, at The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Credit: Jordan Strauss

Combined ShapeCaption
Julie Andrews arrives at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Honoring Julie Andrews on Thursday, June 9, 2022, at The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Credit: Jordan Strauss

Credit: Jordan Strauss

Combined ShapeCaption
Comedian Carol Burnett, right, addresses actor Julie Andrews during the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Comedian Carol Burnett, right, addresses actor Julie Andrews during the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Combined ShapeCaption
Comedian Carol Burnett, right, addresses actor Julie Andrews during the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Credit: Chris Pizzello

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Actor Jane Seymour speaks from the audience during the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Actor Jane Seymour speaks from the audience during the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Combined ShapeCaption
Actor Jane Seymour speaks from the audience during the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Credit: Chris Pizzello

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Comedian Carol Burnett, right, kisses actor Julie Andrews at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Comedian Carol Burnett, right, kisses actor Julie Andrews at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Combined ShapeCaption
Comedian Carol Burnett, right, kisses actor Julie Andrews at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Combined ShapeCaption
A performer dressed as the movie character Mary Poppins is suspended above the audience at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Andrews starred in the 1964 film "Mary Poppins." (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

A performer dressed as the movie character Mary Poppins is suspended above the audience at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Andrews starred in the 1964 film "Mary Poppins." (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Combined ShapeCaption
A performer dressed as the movie character Mary Poppins is suspended above the audience at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Andrews starred in the 1964 film "Mary Poppins." (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Combined ShapeCaption
Actor Hector Elizondo speaks from the audience at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Actor Hector Elizondo speaks from the audience at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Combined ShapeCaption
Actor Hector Elizondo speaks from the audience at the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala honoring Julie Andrews, Thursday, June 9, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello

Credit: Chris Pizzello