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Julie Walters talks 'The Abominable Snow Baby' and her retirement from acting

Julie Walters
Julie Walters voices Gran in Channel 4's 'The Abominable Snow Baby'. (Image credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Screen legend Julie Walters decided to call time on a glittering career after recovering from bowl cancer last year and has ruled out a return our screens in the immediate future. 

The star might be sending a bit of Christmas cheer our way as the star of Channel 4's heart-warming animated film The Abominable Snow Baby, but she hinted it will take a very special project to tempt her back onto a TV set! 

Based on a short story by celebrated novelist Terry Pratchett, The Abominable Snow Baby tells the story of Albert and his indomitable granny, who take in an enormous snow baby after it's shunned by the rest of their community. 

Julie, 71, tells us all about lending her voice to this festive film and how she doesn't miss the early morning starts that come with life as an actor... 

Julie Walters on 'The Abominable Snow Baby'

"I loved the story and the character of Gran as soon as I read the script! To be so full of vim and energy at the age of 98 is amazing. I doubt I’ll get to 98, but if I do I’d like to be like her! I think she’s inspirational, because she shows that it doesn’t matter how old you are, happiness comes from what’s inside you. The story is about love and community and rejecting prejudice as well, which is the kind of story we need at the minute."

Julie on Granny's relationship with her grandson Albert...

"She absolutely loves her grandson and I love how close they are, because Gran is full of courage and she instils that in him. The fact he's a boy and she's an old woman is also brilliant, because it’s not what you expect. I also love how the arrival of the snow baby isn't an issue for Gran. Snow baby is an alien, basically, but she doesn't judge him on any of that. She's full of empathy and understanding." 

Julie on coming up with a voice for Gran...

"The voice is always the first thing for me with any character, because that comes from right inside, it's a personal expression of a person's everything. Some actors go from the shoes or the costume, but for me it’s always the voice first. I saw a drawing of Gran and then the voice came quickly after I read the script, because she’s full of energy and has some great expressions. “Great bags of peppermint balls!” was probably my favourite." 

Julie on her decision to retire from acting... 

"I haven't reconsidered at the moment, but I'm also reconsidering all the time, because people very kindly still send me scripts. So I'd never say never. But I have enjoyed going to bed at night, knowing that I don't have to get up at five o'clock in the morning, get back at seven at night, eat, learn my lines for the next day. I found that pretty exhausting towards the end. I'd love doing The Abominable Snow Baby though. It was heaven. I chose the time I did it and did it from home. It's still the same thing as acting, it's still telling a story, which is the basis of why I love acting. 

"I've enjoyed having a bit of time to myself recently and I'll potter about in the garden and go on plenty of walks. I've also really enjoyed my box sets and have caught up on things like Mad Men, which was amazing, Normal People, I loved Bridgerton and of course Succession, Matthew MacFadyen is brilliant in that! There's so much to watch that I haven't had a chance to see."

Julie on her family's Christmas traditions... 

"I've always loved Christmas and while it’s not quite the same when you get older, it still has that magic. I love the build-up to it and finding presents for people and all of that. We don’t really have any traditions, but we do like to open presents in front of the fire and lunch is never on time! We live on a farm, so my husband is out on the farm on Christmas morning and lunch is in the afternoon. We raise turkeys on the farm, so we always eat one of our turkeys as well, so I suppose that’s a tradition!" 

The Abominable Snow Baby is on Channel 4 at 7.30pm on Christmas Day.