Our Top Ten Films Starring Julie Walters

From playing a madam to a possessive Victorian mother and an iconic Harry Potter character, Julie Walters has had a wide-ranging career on the big screen. These are our favourites…

Educating Rita (1983)

Julie got her big break in the earlier stage version of this film, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company in London. From the start, Willy Russell, who wrote the play, had Julie in mind for the role of the hairdresser who wants an education. They had worked together at Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre. Also there at the time were Bill Nighy, Jonathan Pryce, Matthew Kelly and the late Pete Postlethwaite, who was Julie’s partner for some years.

Personal Services (1987)
This British comedy is based on true story of Cynthia Payne, who hit the headlines in the 1970s when police raided her house in south London and discovered it was a brothel where men paid for sex with Luncheon Vouchers.

Dubbed Madam Cyn by the tabloids, Payne became a national celebrity loved for her down-to-earth manner and outspokenness, qualities that Julie captured perfectly in this film.

Billy Elliot (2000)
Julie’s portrayal of the sharp-tongued dance teacher with the soft centre was a highlight of this wonderful film. But in the current issue of Life & Living you can read how she was suffering badly with the menopause and had big problems remembering the dance routines!

Harry Potter (2001 – 2011)
Julie played Mrs Weasley in all but one of the Harry Potter films (her character doesn’t appear in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), starting off when she and her family meet Harry at King’s Cross Station on his first train journey to Hogwarts and show him how to get through the wall onto Platform 9¾. She remembers vividly that the padding she wore was filled with birdseed and she was worried that it would attract the pigeons.

Calendar Girls (2003)
The line-up for this film was a who’s who of British actresses, including Helen Mirren, Celia Imrie and Penelope Wilton. But Julie shone, as usual, playing against type as the quiet, sensitive Annie, whose husband’s death from leukaemia sparked the idea of the nude fund-raising calendar.

Driving Lessons (2006) 
An eccentric retired actress joins Julie’s gallery of larger-than-life comic characters. Her co-star was Rupert Grinch who, of course, plays her son in the Harry Potter films. 

Becoming Jane (2007)
Julie played the mother to Anne Hathaway’s Jane Austen in this imagined story about how a young country girl grew into one of the world’s greatest writers.

Mamma Mia! (2008)
The show must go on is Julie’s motto. While filming the Dancing Queen segment of this movie, she sprained her ankle tripping on the cobbled streets of the Greek island, but she soldiered on and completed the scene.

Effie Gray (2014)
A rare excursion into bonnets and crinolines with this film, where Julie plays the suffocating, possessive mother of the Victorian artist and art critic, John Ruskin. 

Brooklyn (2015)
The daughter of an Irish immigrant, Julie tapped into her roots to play the formidable Mrs Kehoe, keeper of a ladies’ boarding house in Brooklyn, New York. She was inspired by her own strong-minded mother, Mary O’Brien, who came from a tiny farm in the west of Ireland to Birmingham. She didn’t approve of her daughter becoming an actress, but after her death, Julie found a box full of press cuttings about her performances.