Julie Walters: ‘The script was a real page-turner’

Julie Walters tells us about her latest TV role as a barrister trying to free a convicted killer in ITV1’s The Jury (premieres Monday, Nov 7)…

The Jury is being shown over five consecutive evenings on ITV1 next week – what can you tell us about the drama?

“The Jury is about how people called to do jury service find their lives affected. What’s going on in their personal lives comes into court with them and they respond differently to what’s happening on the stand. But it’s also about the case itself – did this man Alan Lane (John Lynch) murder three women he met while Internet dating?”

Why is the case being retried?

“New evidence has come to light that cast doubts on the original case. I play Alan’s new barrister Emma Watts. She has a lot of moral fibre and she completely believes in him.”

What is the prosecuting counsel like?

“Roger Allam plays prosecuting barrister John Mallory. He completely disagrees with Emma and is convinced of Alan’s guilt. Emma and John are old sparring partners. They’ve been in the business for years and know each other of old. A barrister’s world is quite small and competitive. Emma believes in Alan and she’s there to win – but so is John!”

You probably get offered a lot of work, what was special about The Jury that made you accept the role of Emma?

“The script was a real page-turner. And I’ve never played a barrister before. There’s something very comforting, reassuring and empowering about playing someone who is dealing simply with facts. Emma is cool, organised and unruffled in a combative situation, which is completely the opposite of what I’d be like. I’d be absolutely hopeless at anything like that! I loved all the speeches and the gear too!”

Do you turn down a lot of the roles you’re offered?

“I do now. I got to 60 I began to give myself permission to think ‘I want to do my tomatoes and the vegetables now!’ I love it. I got a new greenhouse for my 60th birthday and not many things make me want to leave it. A lot of people think I’ve retired – but I’ve not, I’m still working!”

What other types of work do you get offered?

“I’ve been asked to go on things like Newsnight, but I couldn’t do that – my brain’s not wired that way! I was once offered a horse riding reality show and I was almost tempted, but then decided against it – people don’t want to see me falling off a horse and breaking something! I enjoyed watching I’m a Celebrity with Paul Burrell and Janet Street-Porter.”

Would you consider going on it?

“I couldn’t do it. Why would I want people to see me first thing in the morning, without caffeine, crying and desperate for food? But watching other people do it is marvellous!”