Julie Hes­mond­halgh

GT (UK) - - CUCUMBER - WORDS RYAN BUTCHER

So Julie, tell us, how did you get in­volved with Cu­cum­ber? I au­di­tioned for it! I wasn’t sure I was re­ally what they were think­ing about for the part of Cleo – I just thought, “That’s not me.” But yeah, I got it. I was ab­so­lutely amazed. In hind­sight, to not be part of this would’ve killed me. We’ve all had the time of our lives do­ing this job – I’m sure ev­ery­one’s told you that? Yes, ac­tu­ally! Ev­ery­one we’ve spo­ken to tells us how bril­liant the at­mos­phere on set has been. It’s ru­ined us all. What on earth are we go­ing to do after this? It’ll prob­a­bly be the only pro­gramme that won’t run for a sec­ond se­ries. Any other show and they’ll make a go for it, but I bet this’ll be one suc­cess­ful se­ries and that’ll be it. One only. We’ll be scream­ing at Rus­sell, “Oh no! Please! Another!” [Laughs] How does it feel work­ing on an LGBT show un­der Rus­sell’s guid­ance? I’ve al­ways been very in­volved with LGBT pol­icy – par­tic­u­larly in Manch­ester. When I first came into Corona­tion Street was around the time Queer as Folk was com­ing out. Cor­rie’s in­tro­duc­tion of Hay­ley and Queer as Folk was a big mo­ment in Manch­ester’s gay his­tory. So me and Rus­sell of­ten find our­selves shar­ing a plat­form at var­i­ous talks and stuff like that. We’ve been in touch pretty con­stantly over the years. After Corona­tion Street, did you have your heart set on an LGBT drama? [Laughs] If only I had that kind of choice! When I made the decision to leave I had ab­so­lutely no idea what was go­ing to hap­pen to me. I didn’t have any ex­pec­ta­tions re­ally, I just wanted to be a job­bing ac­tor again – what­ever that en­tailed. I wanted to be do­ing good work, but I didn’t make any as­sump­tions about where I’d end up. So this came along and it just seemed too good to be true. What’s been the most in­ter­est­ing episode to film? Def­i­nitely episode five, that’s a big episode for me We last saw Julie on our screens as the trans­gen­der Hay­ley Crop­per – one of the most iconic char­ac­ters in this his­tory of Corona­tion Street, who took her own life in an emotionally-charged episode last Jan­uary. Now, in her first TV role since leav­ing the street, she’s back in our lives as Cleo – the no-non­sense sis­ter of Henry, with a YouTube fa­mous son and a sur­gi­cally re­paired vag­ina. Of course... with re­gards to my daugh­ter. Is­sues about chil­dren and sex­u­al­ity. I have a big show­down with Henry about – I find this soft porn em­pire at our mum and dad’s house – and I have this big show­down with him about that. After that, Rus­sell wrote this 12 page story just for us. It’s an old fash­ioned dilemma about chil­dren and porn. It’s a two han­der be­tween me and my son. It’s go­ing to be on­line after episode five. That was sort of given to me – what an hon­our to have that. It’s about what we’re ex­pos­ing our chil­dren to, how we know noth­ing about it. How we wrap our­selves in knots talk­ing about what chil­dren are see­ing on tele­vi­sion and not think­ing for a sec­ond about their mo­bile phones and iPads. It’s an in­cred­i­ble piece of writ­ing. We’re look­ing for­ward to see­ing that. Have you had any other favourite mo­ments? My favourite line has to be the shocker: “Oh yeah, five years ago I got a sur­gi­cally re­paired vag­ina, pop the ket­tle on!” [Laughs] Episode four is a good one, Date Night. We all get ready and go out on dates – I get in touch with an old flame to ba­si­cally test drive my new vag­ina that I haven’t used since it’s been fixed. That episode you see a more pri­vate side to my character. What’re you most proud of when it comes to Cu­cum­ber? What I’m re­ally proud of is that, from the start, Chan­nel 4 have de­scribed it as chan­nel defin­ing. They’re keen to get it a wide au­di­ence, they don’t want it to be marginalised be­cause of the gay con­tent. Yeah there’s sex in it, there’s sex-a-plenty in it. But be­cause it’s gay sex, it’ll be seen as risqué. It’s about peo­ple, and that’s com­pletely univer­sal. The stuff we say about love, sex and re­la­tion­ships, age­ing, loss, fear of sex. It’s all univer­sal. But to have that in an area that’s ex­clu­sively LGBT – well gay re­ally – is a re­ally timely and won­der­ful thing. I’m re­ally, re­ally proud to be part of it.

Cu­cum­ber episode three Cu­cum­ber episode three

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