‘I’m proud I played that part:’ Ex-Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh on trans character Hayley
Julie Hesmondhalgh has reflected on playing a trans character in Coronation Street.
The actor played Hayley Cropper in the ITV soap from 1998 to 2014, sharing the majority of her scenes with Roy Cropper actor David Neilson.
Hayley was the first permanant transgender character to ever appear in a soap and, for the role, Hesmondhalgh, 52, won several awards.
However, in a new interview, the actor has acknowlegded that she “wouldn’t be able to play” the role now.
In recent years, non-trans actors who have played transgender characters, including The Danish Girl star Eddie Redmayne, have said they regret their casting.
But Hesmondhalgh said that she remains “proud” of her work as “the press were absolutely awful about those issues”, and Hayley’s presence in the soap raised awareness among viewers.
“As a cisgender person, I wouldn’t be able to play that part now so it’s kind of good that I left when I did,” the actor told Lorraine Kelly on Lorraine on Thursday (17 November).
“There are so many good trans actors now,” she continued, stating: “But I’m proud that I played that part.”
Hesmondhalgh, who is also a stage actor, appeared in 1,436 episodes of Coronation Street in total.
Her other television credits include Cucumber (2015), Happy Valley (2016), Broadchurch (2017) and The Pact (2021).
Hesmondhalgh has released a new book, titled The Actor’s Alphabet, which “highlightgs the A to Z of being an actor”.
In November 2021, Redmayne, speaking about his role in Tom Hooper’s 2015 film The Danish Girl, said: “I made that film with the best intentions, but I think it was a mistake.
“The bigger discussion about the frustrations around casting is because many people don’t have a chair at the table.”