The Julie Hesmondhalgh Interview

Julie HesmondhalghAs a special treat for Christmas, we have an exclusive interview with one of the Street's most recent and popular stars, Julie Hesmondhalgh, who plays Hayley Patterson.


Her unfolding story as the show's most controversial character captured the imagination of the viewers and her romance with cafe owner Roy Cropper (David Neilson) charmed a legion of people who would previously have found Hayley's "condition" unacceptable or uncomfortable.


Julie is a very lively, friendly woman who loves her unconventional role and the positive effect it has had on the public in making people understand the emotional pain of being transsexual. It also highlights how kind, loving and "normal" a person can be despite being labelled a "freak" by the likes of Les Battersby!


Hi Julie, thanks for taking time out to speak with us. Firstly, let's be all formal! :))
What is your full name?
Julie Claire Hesmondhalgh (the Claire's after my paternal Grandma)
What is your birthdate and birthplace? 
Accrington, 25th February 1970.
What schools did you attend? 
Hyndburn Park nursery/infants/juniors, Moorhead High School, Accrington and Rossendale College, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
What is your current home town? 
London, although Iím hardly ever there. I have a place with my mate in Chorlton-cum-Hardy up here in Manchester.
Trivial stuff now! What's your favourite colour? 
What's your favourite films? 
Raining Stones, Thelma & Louise, An Angel At My Table, Singing In The Rain, My Name Is Joe, In The Name of the Father.
Do you have any favourite singers or groups?

Pulp (I went to see them in Manchester AND Liverpool recently, and met them backstage, and then took Candida, the keyboardist, round the Street, which was the most exciting thing ever!).

Billy Bragg; (Met him too! Suddenly I have access to all my heroes and it's ace).

What's your all-time favourite records?
Make Your Own Kind Of Music - Mamas and the Papas
Mis-shapes - Pulp
Accident Waiting To Happen - Billy Bragg
What was the first record you ever bought?
Are ěFriendsî Electric? - Tubeway Army
What are your favourite TV programmes?
Coro, Late Lunch, Frasier, The Larry Sanders Show, Harry Hill, South Park, I'm Alan Partridge.
Do you own a car? If so, what kind?
A 1988 Fiat Uno called "Betty" - it's my favourite thing seeing her amongst all the Mercs & BMWs in the Granada car park.
How do you relax on your time off? Do you have any regular hobbies or pursuits?
Reading, going to the pictures, writing letters.
We heard that you travelled a fair bit last year, to Cuba and the like. What other places would you like to see most of all?
Next on my hit list are New Zealand and South Africa. I'm taking my mum on the QE2 next year too, and in 2000, Sally Whittaker, David Neilson and myself are going to Peru to walk the Inca Pass for Scope. V. Exciting!
You're rarely seen doing guest appearances on telly like many of the other Corrie cast. Is that your own choice? 
Yes - it's my pathetic attempt to be exclusive! Actually it's just very handy to be seen as little as possible without my wig-and-anorak combo disguise - it means I have a degree of anonymity. I HAD to do Richard & Judy though or my mates would never speak to me again.
What former occupations did you have before acting? 
Iíve been a cleaner, roadsweeper, face painter, children's entertainer, PR girl, envelope stuffer, telephone researcher and barmaid.
At what age did you decide you wanted to act?
On and off since I was about 9.
What was your first role? How old were you?
Red Riding Hood in the school nativity play, aged 6. They gave me a doll to carry on and I had a massive strop on because everyone knows Red Riding Hood didn't have a DOLL with her, for God's sake. The fact that she probably wasn't present at the birth of Jesus either didn't bother me nearly as much.
When were you told that Hayley was going to be a permanent character, and how did that make you feel, given the hype that would inevitably follow?
You never get told that you're permenant (there's no such thing in Weatherfield) - just that your contract's being renewed. I was very excited to be told that Hayley would making a post-operative comeback. This has been a fantastic year for me.
Are you at all worried about possibly being typecast by such a controversial character as time goes on? 
Not really - I'd love to play controversial characters for the rest of my life if I could.
How much, if any, input have you had in the development of Hayley? 
More implicitly than explicitly. After a while you can hear your own voice in the lines on the page - the writers pick up your rhythms and expressions. But generally speaking I'm a mere syphon for the ideas and words of the writers. Hayley is their baby - I provide the voice and the walk! If I deeply objected to anything I was asked to do though, I would always speak out and try to get it changed.
Have you found that you are recognised in public now that you are in CS? If so, how do you feel about it? 
More and more so now, but I'm spotted far less than most of the other actors. I don't find it too difficult, but occasionally it's a bit overwhelming.
Were you previously a Coronation Street fan?
Yes - I've always watched and loved it. My mate Connie and I bought each other Coro books and memorabilia for Christmas for years.
Who were/are your favourite characters? 
Raquel, Bet, Toyah, Steve McDonald, Audrey, Janice and Tyrone - I love Tyrone!
What would you like to see Roy and Hayley get up to in the future?
Lots of holidays in exotic locations, obviously.
Any chance of seeing Hayley in a pair of jeans??
Definitely not! She's not really a jeans type of gal. She has one pair of trousers that have an occasional airing on very cold days.
Do you have any other up and coming appearances on TV or Film, or any stage work? Or are you now fairly tied to CS? 
No, it's wall-to-wall Coro for the forseeable future, I think. There are lots of things I'd love to do eventually though - bit of comedy, bit of radio, bit of film maybe - and lots of theatre.
What ambitions do you have, as an actress or personally?
I'd love to work with Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and Victoria Wood again. I want to visit every continent (with the possible exception of Antarctica), have kids, do the coast-to-coast walk, write a screenplay, make a documentary and finish my OU degree.
What makes you laugh? 
Alan Partridge makes me scream, as do all those ace American sitcoms. I find Michael Flatley (and his outfits) hilarious. I love imitations.
What makes you cry? 
I saw the Elephant Man for the first time on telly the other week and completely lost it. I had to sit two inches away from the screen because I couldn't actually hear the dialogue for my own howling. I cry with happiness quite a lot too - a total sap.
What makes you really angry?
Scabs (of the picket crossing type), injustice, bigotry, meanness, cruelty.
If you could be anyone else, who would you be?
Carol Vorderman.
Finally, if you were granted three wishes, what would you wish for? 
  1. World Peace
  2. To be a good dancer
  3. A private one that I can't reveal here!

So many of my wishes have come true this last year, I can afford the indulgence of peace and love for all the world!

Thank you Julie! Happy New Year!!

There is also a David Neilson interview here, conducted by Mike Plowman in 1996, long before Hayley was a even a twinkle! :)


This article is © copyright 1998. Permission must be given before any reproduction. Please mail Graham Allsopp for further details.

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