The actress and national treasure on hunks, trunks and being recognised in the Jacuzzi
Do you get recognised a lot when you’re away?
Not massively, but I don’t go out of my way to stand out. I was in a Jacuzzi in Center Parcs once and someone asked ‘Are you Julie Walters?’. I said I wasn’t.
Your film career took off after Educating Rita, what was your first trip to LA like?
When I was promoting the film, I was put up in The Beverly Hills Hotel and it was like a different world. I’d never seen people wearing so much gold – when they jumped in the pool, it was a wonder some of them came up. I went on the Tonight Show and joked about how 50 per cent of my luggage was now hotel towelling. I also said that their Polo lounge was really snobbish, and that my friend and I hadn’t been allowed in because we were wearing denim.
Did you go back after that?
No, the people at Colombia Pictures said ‘perhaps it’s best you stay somewhere else’.
What’s your earliest holiday memory?
When I was about two years old, we stayed on a farm with relatives in Mayo, Ireland. I can remember my mum getting me out of bed in the middle of the night and holding me over a massive jam jar to have a wee.
Classy. You must be used to flash hotels these days. Do you have a favourite?
Oh yeah, the Ritz-Carlton, which overlooks Central Park in New York. I stayed in a corner suite, and from one window, you could look through a telescope at the wildlife in the park. From the other, you could look across the street into someone’s apartment. I just loved this. There was a man living there and I’d be like ‘is he up yet?’.
… and a worst hotel?
There’s one in Manchester, which I won’t name. When I stayed there, things started going missing from my room. Then one morning, I was woken up at 4am by a man shouting: ‘Miss Walters, there’s a man lying on the floor outside your room. Do you want to let him in?’ I said: ‘I don’t bloody think so.’
What’s been your favourite movie location?
It’s got to be where we filmed Mamma Mia; Skopelos Skiathos and the Pelion peninsula. The weather was amazing, the location were so unspoilt, and the people were so hospitable. Meryl Streep, who has done more films than many of us have had hot dinners, said it was one of her happiest film experiences.
Sounds idyllic. Where there any hiccups?
I sprained my ankle in an olive grove. But I was very professional and did it off camera. I had to be carried out through the streets by a very hunky Grip, who was the guy that everyone fancied on set. People were coming out of their shops to have a look, like I was in some kind of weird May procession.
The film created a stir worldwide…
God help the poor Greeks, because they’ve been inundated with requests from people wanting to get married in the chapel on Skopelos. In reality, the chapel is about 4ft by 8ft, and we filmed the interior shots at Pinewood.
Have any other locations stood out?
Yes, the Nevada desert where we filmed Girls’ Night. It was so different and beautiful and earthly – you could see what was once the bottom of the sea. We were on horseback for most of the time, which I loved. I asked the horse wrangler what the webs on the ground were – when he said they were tarantula webs I thought, ‘I’m never going to fall of this horse, ever.’
That’s Another Story by Julie Walters is available in paperback now (Phoenix, £7.99)