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Julie Walters in Mo: 'I looked like a badger!'

Julie Walters in Mo: 'I looked like a badger!'
Julie Walters in Mo: 'I looked like a badger!'

Julie Walters talks about her latest role playing Mo (opens in new tab) Mowlam in a moving new C4 drama on Sunday, January 31 at 9pm. What was the physical transformation to Mo like? “Difficult! My face is the exact opposite of hers – it’s like asking Daniel Craig to play Gerry Adams! Without surgery there is no way I can look like Mo. She was very open-faced with quite a small, prissy mouth for someone who is in no way prissy. The more I realised how well people remembered her, the more frightened I became of the whole thing – and then of course came the baldness.” You ended up shaving off your hair. Was that tough? “I started with a bald cap. I didn’t have my glasses on, but I could see the line cap. So I just said: 'This is dreadful, we can’t do it like this – what if I shave my head?' I think they were waiting for me to come to the conclusion myself, because it’s a lot to ask someone. I wasn’t completely bald so I looked very, very weird. They wanted to keep hair at the sides for the wigs, so I was bald on the top, had white hair round the side and brown at the back. I looked like a badger!” How did your husband Grant and daughter Maisie react? “It was a weird experience. I felt very, very naked. I felt more naked than if I’d had no clothes on. They were very cool about it when I went home the first night and told them I’d shaved it. But when I took the wig off, I ran off to put some make-up on, which is something I never do. I don’t ever wear make-up at home. I thought I looked like Harry Hill, but Grant was really sweet. He said: 'You know, it’s quite beautiful, really'." So what’s next for you? “It is back to Harry Potter. Mrs Weasley has a lot to do this time. I kill Helena Bonham Carter for a start – and not many can say that. We have a bit of a wand contest, I can’t wait. It will be sad, though, because I’ve watched all of them all grow up. It will certainly leave a void."

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 


An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.