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Julie Walters Biography

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Birth Name: Julie Walters
Born: 02/22/1950
Birth Place: Birmingham, England, GB

Walters was in some ways like Susan, the woman going by the name of Rita in "Educating Rita". She was in her second year of nursing school, when, despite the objection of her parents, she decided to switch to acting instead. After some study in Manchester, Walters made her stage debut in Liverpool in a production of "The Taming of the Shrew" and also performed a song, dance and comic imitations act at the tough dockside pubs in Liverpool. By 1976, she had made it to the London stage in "Funny Peculiar" and in 1980 starred in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of "Educating Rita". She has subsequently starred as Serafina in a London production of Tennessee Williams' "The Rose Tattoo", Sam Shepard's "Fool for Love" and Terrence McNally's "Frankie and Johnnie in the Clair de Lune". Walters also appeared in "Pat and Margaret", a comedy about a woman who returns to Britain after starring in an American soap opera, which was later filmed for British TV.

After the success of the 1983 film version of "Educating Rita", Walters had offers in Hollywood. But after rejecting some scripts as substandard, she also realized that Hollywood was not going to offer the roles she wanted. Although a blazing success on talk shows like "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson", Walters elected to return to Britain. Some of the films she made as a leading lady in the 80s were less than successful (i.e., "She'll Be Wearing Pink Pyjamas" 1985 and "Car Trouble" 1986); instead she seemingly rushed into character parts where she found better roles and more success. In 1987, she played a naive working woman who stumbles into a career as a madam in "Personal Services" and Joe Orton's working-class mother in "Prick Up Your Ears". Walters was cast as the loving wife of a train robber in "Buster" (1988) and played Mrs. Peachum in "Mack the Knife" (1989). In 1991, she traveled to Canada to make her first "Hollywood" film, the lackluster "Stepping Out", in which she was the fastidious and annoying tap dance student of Liza Minnelli.

In the early 90s, the actress took time to care for her daughter who had been diagnosed with leukemia. When the child went into remission, Walters resumed her film career. In "Sister My Sister" (1994), she was cast as the stern mistress of a household whose mistreatment of her two servants leads to violence. Walters delivered a richly nuanced portrayal of a conniving 1950s housewife who seduces a border with disastrous consequences in the based-on-fact "Intimate Relations" (1996). Looking much older and wearing unflattering period costumes and spectacles, she managed to delineate the woman's loneliness and frustration and humanized what could easily have become caricature in the hands of a less gifted artist. Her interplay with co-star Rupert Graves helped to maintain the film's blackly comic tone.

During the late 80s and into the 90s, Walters appeared in several films made for British TV that received theatrical release in the USA. "The Summer House" (made in 1992; released in the USA in 1993) offered her a somewhat routine character, the mother of a bride, but she managed to bring a conviction to the part and held her own amid formidable co-stars like Jeanne Moreau and Joan Plowright. In "Just Like a Woman" (made in 1992; released in USA in 1994), Walters was a divorcee who falls for a man with a penchant for cross-dressing. "The Wedding Gift/Wide-Eyed and Legless" (1993; USA release 1994) was a based-on-fact story of a woman with a terminal illness (Walters) who finds a second wife for her husband.

Specifically for British TV, Walters made one of her earliest appearance in "Talent" (Granada TV, 1979) which first teamed her with British comic Victoria Wood. They headlined their own variety series "Wood and Walters" (Granada TV, 1982) and Walters was a member of the stock company on "Victoria Wood--As Seen on TV" (BBC-2, 1985-86). In the latter, Walters was particularly praised for one characterization, an actress playing a hump-backed charwoman who constantly missed cues and bumped into the scenery in a recurring spoof of soap operas. She also made appearances on the darkly comic series "Boys from the Black Stuff" (BBC-2, 1982) and was the mother of the confused 13-year old in "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4" (Thames TV, 1985), a series based on the popular young adult novels. More recently, she supported Jennifer Ehle in the British series "Melissa" (1997).

Although she remains beloved for her comic collaborations with British comic Victoria Wood (appearing together in "dinnerladies" 1998 and "Wetty Haintrop Investigates" 1999), Walters has continue to be a critics' darling for her film work, particularly in the USA. She earned plaudits for her turn as a strong-willed housewife in 1970s Belfast who attempts to negotiate an end to the daily violence in "Titanic Town" (although originally screened at film festivals in 1998 and 1999, the film did not receive a theatrical release until The Shooting Gallery picked it up as part of its film series in 2000). A somewhat restrained Walters also received glowing critical kudos for her turn as the chain-smoking dance teacher who recognizes a young boy's potential in the crowd-pleasing "Billy Elliot" (2000). She followed playing Molly Weasley, the mother of the title character's best friend Ron in the highly anticipated "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (2001), a cameo role she reprised in the 2002 and 2004 sequels.

Following a well-received turn in the U.K. telepics "My Beautiful Son" (2001)n playing terminal leukemia patient Paul Reiser's British birth mother, and "Murder" (2002)--both projects earned her back-to-back BAFTA TV Awards as Best Actress. Walters returned to the big screen starring with Helen Mirren among the ensemble of the sprightly British comedy "Calendar Girls" (2003), inspired by the true story of the Rylstone Women's Institute in North Yorkshire, a group of everyday women who decide to pose nude for their annual calendar to raise funds for Leukemia research, inspiring sales that outdid even the sexiest of celebrity calendars. Walters also had an acclaimed stint as the Wife of Bath in a British miniseries production of "The Canterbury Tales" (2003), for which she won a third consecutive BAFTA TV award as Best Actress.