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Entertainment & Arts

Yes, that’s Julie Andrews you’re hearing in ‘Aquaman.’ The writers explain how they made that happen

Today - Season 66
Julie Andrews in 2017
(NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Super-nanny meets superhero in “Aquaman.” You read that right.

With the DC Comics standalone film and Disney’s “Mary Poppins” sequel both hitting theaters today, Julie Andrews is back on the big screen. But not for the cameo you might have expected.

Opting out of an appearance in the Disney follow-up, unlike her 1964 co-stars Dick Van Dyke and Karen Dotrice, Andrews instead makes a return to theaters as the voice of a Kraken sea creature in the James Wan-directed comic book epic.

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So what exactly is the creature Andrews voices? The answer is murky even to the writers, but at last week’s Los Angeles premiere scribe Will Beall described it as “a Lovecraftian, Cthulhu kind of a character that was eons old.”

“Lovecraftian” refers to the late American writer H.P. Lovecraft, who gained fame posthumously for his horror fiction. Since his death in 1937, he has inspired generations to continue the vision of his stories about the octopus-like “Cthulhu” creature.

Related: Talking to Victor LaValle about H.P. Lovecraft, ‘The Changeling’ and the horror of parenthood

The “Aquaman” Kraken was not originally written with Andrews in mind. Beall, co-writer David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Wan shaped what the underwater dweller would sound like during post-production.

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Johnson-McGoldrick recalled a moment when Wan addressed the group in the writer’s room: “You know what? This creature — it’s always a guy. It’s always like the big, booming male voice. I want a female voice with gravitas.

“We don’t ever see that coming from this creature. So, let’s make this a powerful female. That was [Wan’s] inspiration,” explained Johnson-McGoldrick, who previously collaborated with Wan on the “Conjuring” franchise.

(L-r) AMBER HEARD, director JAMES WAN, JASON MOMOA and WILLEM DAFOE on the set of Warner Bros. Pictu
Amber Heard, director James Wan, Jason Momoa and Willem Dafoe on the set of “Aquaman”
(Jasin Boland / Warner Bros.)

Related: ‘Aquaman’ director James Wan ‘didn’t want to make a traditional superhero movie’

The team spent days in conference rooms, “sort of cooking up this story. It felt like … when I was 12, 13 playing Dungeons and Dragons,” said Beall, who also helped shape Aquaman’s story on early drafts of 2017’s “Justice League.”

Wan brought a youthful energy to the creative process. “James would get up and he’s like, ‘Yeah!’ And he takes up the trident as if a giant tentacle swats him, and James kind of throws himself against the wall. Later, to actually see those scenes come to fruition — that’s what it’s like to work with a visionary director,” he added.

Without spoiling the plot it’s safe to say Andrews’ character plays a pivotal role in Aquaman’s journey to stop a war from breaking out between the people of Atlantis and those above the surface. Her cameo contributes to the film’s lighter tone in comparison to previous DC Comics movies.

Premiere Of Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Aquaman” - Arrivals
Nicole Kidman, Jason Momoa and Amber Heard attend the premiere of “Aquaman” at TCL Chinese Theatre on December 12, 2018
(Presley Ann / FilmMagic)
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Review: ‘Aquaman’ makes a splash with underwater spectacle galore and Jason Momoa’s superheroic star turn

Andrews’ vocal turn is one small part of an ensemble cast led by Jason Momoa, reprising his DC Universe role as the half-human and half-Atlantean Arthur Curry. He is joined by an eclectic mix of actors including Nicole Kidman, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren, Patrick Wilson and Temuera Morrison.

“The idea that I’m writing for Dolph Lundgren and Julie Andrews in the same movie....” Beall paused with a smile. “If my career ended today, I don’t think there’s many writers that can claim they’re able to do that.”


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