Pulling Focus: Julie Atherton interview

Julie Atherton trained at Mountview and has become one of our best loved leading ladies. In her dressing room at the Gielgud she talks to Sarah Clark about puppets, performing and why she's always up for something new.


It's very, very important to be able to take all the criticism you can and turn it into something positive. Don't think people are just insulting you or putting you down – they're trying to make you better.

Firstly, how did you get into performing?
I wasn't very good at anything else! At school I really liked drama, music and art. I went on to 6th Form College and I took Theatre Studies, Spanish and Art, and I ended up dropping Spanish and Art because I just hated them! My Theatre Studies teacher there just really pushed me. I still ended up failing it because of the written work, because I'm just awful and have to sit down and explain how I've done something – I'm an instinctual actress rather than a textbook actress. He pushed me to go to drama school and I'm glad he did because I don't know what I'd be doing now!

Tell me a bit about your training at Mountview.
I loved it – it's the best and the worst three years of your life. You're growing up, essentially. I was 18, it was my first time in London, first time living anywhere on my own. My mum sort of wrapped me up in cotton wool, so it was really scary doing a whole new thing. The hours were really long but we worked really hard – you just become a family
at drama school. I had an amazing time, obviously you're growing up and you're finding your own personality. It's really weird, drama school! You get to do so many different styles, you learn so much and you learn what's going to be useful to you, because what's useful to you may not be useful to someone else.

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