Interview: Julie Walters: Julie Is a Real Character Julie Walters Is Taking over Our Screens with a Range of Roles Which Fully Demonstrate Her Versatility
Rampton, James, The Independent (London, England)
Marjory is so house-proud she uses surgical gloves to clean up dog-hairs from the carpet. All the while compulsively folding tea- towels, she sneers at her in-laws' lack of refinement: "They've no culture at all. First time I went down there, they were having their dinner and there was a pan stuck on the table. When it comes to evolution, they're scarcely above the pig-sty level." Yet this apparently normal housewife is concealing a far from normal secret about her husband's nocturnal activities.
Welcome to the double-edged world of Talking Heads 2. Writer Alan Bennett has created a whole world peopled by characters who say one thing but mean another. "Double-meaning" could be the motto of Bennettworld. As Mark Shivas, the series' producer, puts it: "Very often, you realise that the character you are watching is not what you thought and they slowly emerge in a very different light."
Some people have wondered how Bennett, now a well-off writer, can continue to tap into these mainly lower-middle-class characters. But Julie Walters, perfectly cast as the obsessive Marjory in "The Outside Dog", this week's contribution to Talking Heads 2, has no doubt: "He still lives up north where he's in touch with a lot of these sorts of people. He must soak up their language like a sponge. Also, he gets a lot of deep inspirations from his childhood, which is such an intensive, formative time. Sometimes, when I'm acting, I think, `Oh, I've picked that up from so and so'. It's the same when Alan's writing." Walters refutes the image of Bennett as a comfortable writer. "There is this image of him sitting in nice Harrogate hotels having tea and talking about cardigans, but it's wrong. He's not cosy." In fact, she says, he is a writer of darkness and complexity, and Walters can only admire the levels of significance that lie beneath Bennett's apparently simple dialogue. "Marjory is not facing up to things. She is keeping people at bay with her cleaning. She's washing everything away. She can't allow herself just to sit down and think. She speaks in this parochial language which conceals layers of God knows what. The most awful fears must be going on, but she keeps everything suppressed. "Alan has this fascination with ordinary folk. He has a genius for ordinary language with layers of intricate, psychological stuff underneath. He's a very intelligent man, brought up in a working- class background, so he can look at ordinary life very creatively. Viewers take it in because they see elements of themselves in these characters. He has a way of getting the extraordinary out of the ordinary." Which, as it happens, also stands as a pretty good summary of Walters' own attributes. In whatever part she has played - from the self-improving hairdresser in Educating Rita to the misunderstood mother in Jake's Progress - she has elevated the mundane to …
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Publication information: Article title: Interview: Julie Walters: Julie Is a Real Character Julie Walters Is Taking over Our Screens with a Range of Roles Which Fully Demonstrate Her Versatility. Contributors: Rampton, James - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: October 24, 1998. Page number: 60,61. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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