Former Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh has said the transgender role that made her famous will never leave her, but it would be “absolutely wrong” for her to still be in the part.
The actress played the role of Hayley Cropper, the first transgender character in a British soap, from 1998 to 2014 – but said it would be an “anomaly” if she were still in the role after the emergence of high-profile trans stars.
Julie, who will soon be seen in the third and final series of Broadchurch, said she still gets “Hayley hugs” from members of the public, but hopes she will one day be listed among the actresses who have forged successful careers after their time on the cobbles.
She added: “It never leaves you, it never does. I’ve left it, very much so, but she will always be part of me, will Hayley.
“I love that part and I love that whole time in my life, but I feel very separate from it now.
“It’s been three years now but three years is nothing, Suranne Jones (who also appeared in Coronation Street) still gets it and it’s hilarious to me. It’s been 10 years and she’s a Bafta-winning superstar.”
“There is always a list of people I would eventually like to join when they say ‘how will it be when they leave’? There has only been a handful that have done it. Suranne, Sarah (Lancashire), Katherine Kelly, and maybe one day they will add me on to that list.
“It ended just as there was this whole movement of young trans actors coming through and it would have been such an anomaly, it would have been absolutely wrong for me to be playing that part now.
“It just happened at the right time that I went and everyone else took over. It felt the right moment and it would have been anachronistic for me to be playing that part now, it would have been strange.
“But I’m really proud of all that and it changed my life beyond measure. I still get a lot of love for it and get Hayley hugs.”
Julie will join the cast of Broadchurch as Trish Winterman, the victim of the sexual assault that is the central mystery of the final series.
Broadchurch returns to ITV at 9pm on February 27.