Dame Julie Walters has revealed that she was diagnosed with bowel cancer while shooting her new movie The Secret Garden.
The eight-time BAFTA Award winner, known for movies including Billy Elliot, Mamma Mia!, Paddington, and Educating Rita, said doctors found two tumors in her large intestine around 18 months ago. She underwent chemotherapy and an operation, and has now been given the all-clear.
Recalling the moment of her diagnosis on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show today, the 69-year-old actress said she felt “shock. First of all, shock. And I thought, ‘Right.’ Then you hold on to the positive, which was that [the surgeon] said: ‘We can fix this.’”
She also recalled the moment she told her husband Grant Roffey the terrible news, saying: “I’ll never forget his face – tears came into his eyes.” The couple have a grown-up daughter, Maisie, and live on an organic farm in West Sussex, southern England, that Roffey runs.
Walters said that her treatment involved her having “30cm taken out of my colon,” and meant that several of her scenes in The Secret Garden had to be cut. She was also forced to miss the world premiere of her 2018 movie, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
Walters, also a Golden Globe winner and two-time Academy Award nominee, said that her attitude towards future acting roles has “completely changed” following the health scare.
“It would have to be something I’m really engaged with,” she said of taking on another role. “I’m not saying I’ll never act again. But I certainly don’t think I can go back to [taking on a project that requires working] six days a week, five in the morning till seven o’clock at night.”
The Secret Garden, in which Walters stars opposite Colin Firth, opens in U.S. theaters later this year at a date to be confirmed. Relive one of the beloved actress’s many hilarious moments on The Graham Norton Show below.
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