Julia Mary “Julie” Walters, CBE (born 22 February 1950) is an English actress and writer. She has won two BAFTA Film Awards, four BAFTA TV Awards and received the BAFTA Fellowship in 2014.
Walters first came to international prominence in 1983, for playing the title role in Educating Rita. It was a role she had created on the West End stage and it earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. It also won her a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. She received a second Academy Award nomination, this time for Best Supporting Actress, for her role in the 2000 film Billy Elliot, which also won her a BAFTA. Her other film roles include Personal Services (1987), Prick Up Your Ears (1987), Buster (1988), Stepping Out (1991), Calendar Girls (2003) and Mamma Mia! (2008). She has also played Molly Weasley in seven of the eight Harry Potter films (2001–2011). On stage, she won an Olivier Award for Best Actress for the 2001 production of All My Sons.
On television, she is well known for her collaborations with Victoria Wood and has appeared with her in several television shows including Wood and Walters (1981), Victoria Wood As Seen on TV (1985–1987), Pat and Margaret (1994) and Dinnerladies (1998–2000). She has won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress four times, for My Beautiful Son (2001), Murder (2002), The Canterbury Tales (2003) and as Mo Mowlam in Mo (2010). She also starred in A Short Stay in Switzerland in 2009, which won her an International Emmy for Best Actress. In 2006, she came fourth in ITV’s poll of the public’s 50 Greatest TV stars in Britain.
Walters was born in St. Chad’s Hospital, Edgbaston, Birmingham, then the maternity hospital for Smethwick. Her parents, Mary Bridget (née O’Brien), an Irish Catholic postal clerk born in County Mayo, Ireland, and Thomas Walters, an English builder and decorator, lived at 69 Bishopton Road, near Lightwoods Park, in the Bearwood area of Smethwick. The youngest of five children and the third to survive birth, Walters had an early education at a convent school and later at Holly Lodge Grammar School for Girls on Holly Lane in Smethwick. “It was heaven when I went to an ordinary grammar school,” she said in 2014, though 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). She 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’ relationship with Grant Roffey, an Automobile Association patrol man, began after 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 City. The couple live on an organic farm run by Roffey near Plaistow, West Sussex.
In August 2014 she featured in the first episode in the eleventh series of the BBC genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?. The programme revealed that her maternal ancestors played an active part in the struggle for more rights for Irish tenant farmers, known as the ‘Irish Land War’, which started in 1879. Although not included in the programme, Walters’ paternal grandfather, Thomas Walters, was a veteran of the Second Boer War. He was killed in action in World War I in June 1915, serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and is commemorated at the Le Touret Memorial, France.