- Category : Actress
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Sleeping Phoenix 1
Julia Mary "Julie" Walters, CBE (born 22 February 1950) is an English actress and novelist.
She came to international prominence for portraying the title role in Educating Rita (1983). It was a role she had created on the West End stage, and it won her BAFTA and Golden Globe awards for Best Actress.
She is best known internationally for her on-screen characterisation of Molly Weasley in seven of the eight Harry Potter films. In 2006, she came fourth in ITV's poll of the public's 50 Greatest Stars in the UK. She is also well known for her collaborations with Victoria Wood, such as appearing with her in the award-winning sitcoms Victoria Wood As Seen On TV and Dinnerladies.
Walters was born in Smethwick, Staffordshire (now Smethwick, West Midlands), very close to Birmingham, to parents Mary Bridget (née O'Brien), a postal clerk of Irish Catholic extraction, and Thomas Walters, a builder and decorator.
The youngest of three children and only girl, Walters had an early education at a convent school and later at Holly Lodge Grammar School for Girls on Holly Lane in Smethwick, although she was asked to leave at the end of her lower sixth because of her "high jinks". In an interview with Alison Oddey, Walters said about her early schooling: "I was never going to be academic, so my mother suggested that I try teaching or nursing... I'd been asked to leave school, so I thought I'd better do it."
Her first job was in insurance at the age of 15. At 18 she trained as a nurse at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham and worked on the ophthalmic, casualty and coronary care wards during the 18 months she spent there. Walters decided to leave nursing, and studied English and Drama at Manchester Polytechnic (now Manchester Metropolitan University) and pursued a career in the performing arts. Walters worked for the Everyman Theatre Company in Liverpool in the mid-1970s, alongside several other notable performers: Bill Nighy, Pete Postlethwaite, Jonathan Pryce, Willy Russell and Alan Bleasdale.
Walters first received notice as the occasional partner of comedienne Victoria Wood, whom she had briefly met in Manchester. The two first worked together in the 1978 theatre revue In At The Death, followed by the television adaptation of Wood's play Talent. They went on to appear in their own Granada Television series, Wood and Walters, in 1982.
They have continued to perform together frequently over the years. The BAFTA-winning BBC follow-up, Victoria Wood As Seen On TV, featured one of Walters's best-known roles, Mrs. Overall in Wood's parodic soap opera, Acorn Antiques (she later appeared in the musical version, and received an Olivier Award nomination for her efforts). She also appeared as Petula Gordino in Wood's sitcom dinnerladies.
Before making her London stage debut in Educating Rita, Walters had worked in regional theatre, stand-up comedy and cabaret. Her first serious acting role on TV was in the classic Boys from the Blackstuff in 1982, and she broke into films with her Academy-Award-nominated, BAFTA Best Actress award-winning and Golden Globe Award Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical/Comedy award-winning performance opposite Michael Caine in Educating Rita (1983), a role she had created on the West End stage.
In 1985, she played Adrian Mole's mother Pauline in the TV adaptation of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. Walters starred as the lead in the 1987 film Personal Services – a dramatic comedy about a British brothel owner. Walters played the lead character's wife, June, in the film Buster, released in 1988. She also appeared as Mrs. Peachum in the 1989 film version of The Threepenny Opera, which was renamed Mack the Knife for the screen.
In 1991, Walters starred opposite Liza Minnelli in Stepping Out and had a one-off television special, Julie Walters and Friends, which featured writing contributions from Victoria Wood and Alan Bennett. In 1998 she starred as the Fairy Godmother in the ITV pantomime – Jack and the Beanstalk, alongside actors Neil Morrissey, Adrian Edmondson, Paul Merton, Denise van Outen and Julian Clary. The show was first broadcast 25 December 1998 on ITV1 and continues to be shown every year around Christmas on ITV2.
Walters has won numerous other acting awards, and was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1999 and raised to Commander level (CBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours for her services to drama. In 2001, she won a Laurence Olivier Award for her performance in Arthur Miller's All My Sons. She received her second Oscar nomination and won a BAFTA for her supporting role as the ballet teacher in Billy Elliot (2000). In 2002, she again won a BAFTA for her performance as Paul Reiser's mother in My Beautiful Son.
Walters also played Molly Weasley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010) and Part 2 (2011). Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the only Harry Potter film to have not starred Walters.
In 2003, Walters starred as a widow (Annie Clark) determined to make some good come out of her husband's death from cancer in Calendar Girls, which also starred Helen Mirren and Ciarán Hinds; in 2005, Walters again starred as inspirational real-life figure Marie Stubbs in the ITV1 drama Ahead of the Class.
In 2006, she came fourth in ITV's poll of the public's 50 Greatest Stars, coming four places above frequent co-star Victoria Wood. Also in 2006, she starred in the film Driving Lessons alongside Rupert Grint (who played her son Ron in the Harry Potter series), and later had a leading role in the BBC's adaptation of Philip Pullman's novel The Ruby in the Smoke.
In the summer of 2006, she published her first novel, Maggie's Tree. Walters starred in Asda's Christmas 2007 TV advertising campaign. She also appeared alongside Patrick Stewart in UK Nintendo DS Brain Training television advertisements, and in a Public Information Film about smoke alarms. In summer 2008, Walters appeared in the film version of Mamma Mia!, playing Rosie Mulligan, marking her second high profile musical, after Acorn Antiques.
Walters played Mary Whitehouse in the BBC Drama Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story, an adaptation of the real-life story of Mrs. Whitehouse, who campaigned for "taste and decency on television". Walters commented, "I am very excited to be playing Mary Whitehouse, and to be looking at the time when she attacked the BBC and started to make her name." Filth won Best Motion Picture Made for Television, and Walters was nominated for Best Actress In A Miniseries Or A Motion Picture Made For Television, at the 2008 13th Annual Satellite Awards.
In 2009 Walters received a star in the Birmingham Walk of Stars on Birmingham's Golden Mile, Broad Street. She said: "I am very honoured and happy that the people of Birmingham and the West Midlands want to include me in their Walk of Stars and I look forward to receiving my star. Birmingham and the West Midlands is where I'm from; these are my roots and in essence it has played a big part in making me the person I am today". Other awards include an International Emmy with Ben Whishaw for "A Short Stay In Switzerland".
Walters played the late MP and former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mo Mowlam in a drama for Channel 4, broadcast in early 2010. She had misgivings about taking on the role because of the differences in their physical appearance, but the result was highly praised by critics.
In July 2012, Walters appeared in the BBC Two production The Hollow Crown as Mistress Quickly in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Parts I and II.
In 2012 she worked with LV= to promote one of their life insurance products targeted at people over 50. Walters was seen in television advertisements, at the lv.com website and in other marketing material helping to raise awareness for life insurance.
Walters will appear in The Last of the Haussmans at the Royal National Theatre beginning 12 June 2012. The production will be broadcast to cinemas around the world on 11 October 2012 through the National Theatre Live programme.
Walters met her husband, Grant Roffey, an Automobile Association patrol man, in a whirlwind romance. The couple have a daughter, Maisie Mae Roffey (born 26 April 1988, City of Westminster, London), but did not marry until 1997, 11 years into their relationship, when they went to New York. The couple live on an organic farm run by Roffey in West Sussex.