Julie Walters Withdraws From New Channel 4 Drama For Medical Reasons

Dame Julie Walters pictured in 2018
Dame Julie Walters pictured in 2018

Dame Julie Walters pictured in 2018

Dame Julie Walters will no longer be appearing in the upcoming Channel 4 drama Truelove due to ill health.

Last year, the Oscar nominee said she had “basically withdrawn from acting”, but made the decision to return to the industry after reading the script for Strangelove.

Filming got underway in the summer, but was paused when Dame Julie suffered “severe” back pain.

It’s now been revealed that filming is to resume with Lindsay Duncan taking over in the Mamma Mia! star’s role, so she can “focus on her recovery and recuperation”.

A statement issued by Clerkenwell Films to Deadline read: “Last year, filming on Truelove was paused while Julie Walters sought medical advice and attention for severe back pain.

“Subsequently, Julie has decided to step back from the project to focus on her recovery and recuperation, and so will not be returning to the role of Phil. We wholeheartedly support her decision, and the entire cast, crew and production team wish her the very best and a speedy recovery.”

Dame Julie at the Baftas in 2018
Dame Julie at the Baftas in 2018

Dame Julie at the Baftas in 2018

The statement continued: “We are delighted that Lindsay Duncan will be stepping into the role of Phil. We’re excited to see what she brings to this complex and captivating character when we restart filming later this year.”

After undergoing treatment for bowel cancer in 2018, Dame Julie shared in 2020: “I had a weird reaction to [the diagnosis]. Part of me was going, ‘Oh my God! I’ve got cancer! Oh my God!’ And I’m dealing with the shock of that, and it’s all systems go to have it treated.

“But there was also an element of going, ‘I don’t have to do any more work. I can actually get off this treadmill.’ Because I had been working really hard and it seemed like a big excuse not to do anything.

“Cancer trumps everything. So there was a huge relief in it, which is strange. But I needed something to stop me.”

“After I had the operation and I was thinking about the future, I thought, ‘I don’t want to work again... unless it’s another Mamma Mia!’” she added at the time.

In the initial Truelove announcement last year, it was revealed the drama centred around a pair of childhood sweethearts who reconnect in later life, after a friend’s funeral.

A press release said: “At the wake, with nostalgia and booze flowing in equal measure, talk soon takes a meditative turn and the group discuss what an ‘ideal’ death might look like. Our gang make a drunken pact: rather than let each other suffer a slow and dreadful decline, they will step in and engineer a dignified death.

“In short, they will help each other die when the time is right. Because that, they all agree, is a sign of Truelove. But what starts out as a fanciful idea soon morphs into shocking reality…”

Additional cast members include Clarke Peters, Sue Johnston and Phil Davis.

Per Deadline, filming is to resume in Bristol later this year.