Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh opens up over losing ambition during soap role

Former Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh has revealed that she “lost all ambition” to pursue other acting jobs during her time on the soap.

Hesmondhalgh, who is best known for playing Hayley Cropper on the cobbles between 1998 and 2014, said her enjoyment in the role meant that she was no longer interested in other work. “It was such a day job, it was something I went and did and then came home to my family, so I hadn’t really thought of myself as an actor,” she told The Mirror.

“I never intended to leave,” she added. “I used to joke that I’d be there for the 100th anniversary.”

julie hesmondhalgh attends the arqiva british academy television awards at theatre royal on may 18, 2014 in london, england photo by stuart c wilsongetty images

Stuart C. WilsonGetty Images

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The actress continued: “A lot of people think about the way I came and left Coronation Street with the fairly sensational soap storylines, but in the 16 years in between there was a lot of pottering around.

“I’d lost all ambition, any sort of thoughts about doing anything else, I was so happy there.”

During her 16-year stint on the cobbles, Hesmondhalgh featured in a number of memorable storylines which included falling in love with and marrying Roy Cropper, being arrested for abducting her foster son and being the first trans character to feature on a soap.

She left the cobbles after her character Hayley was involved in an assisted dying storyline following a terminal cancer diagnosis.

julie hesmondhalgh as hayley cropper, roy cropper coronation street


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Speaking about her decision to leave the soap, the actress said it was her work on 2012 stage production Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster which led her to see that there was work outside Coronation Street.

“Doing that made me realise there was other work I wanted to do, other stories I wanted to tell,” she said. “I was really devastated when I left, even though it was my decision. I do miss Hayley still. I get such a thrill when she’s still talked about in Coronation Street.”

Since leaving the soap, Hesmondhalgh has appeared in Happy Valley, Doctor Who and The Pact.

Coronation Street airs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8pm on ITV1 and streams on ITVX.

Read more Coronation Street spoilers on our dedicated homepage

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