Everyone agrees that Veruca Salt should have been given some of the Fizzy Lifting Drinks and set free like a drifting balloon, right? It’s impressive just how much of a terror Julia Dawn Cole made the character in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, especially considering how kind the actress is in real life. With acting chops like that, where did she go?
Born in Surrey, England on October 26, 1957, Julia would live the first twelve years of her life in relative quiet before being cast as the nightmare child in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. While Julia Dawn Cole herself was a quiet and kind person, Veruca was the polar opposite.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
It would prove to be a breakout role for Julia though, and lead to making some lifelong friends among the cast, including a competitive crush with Denise Nickerson who played Violet Beauregard over Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie in the film.
While Julia would last on set a bit longer than the other kids, she would eventually be seen off through the egg chute along with her character midway through the film, bringing an end to her first major role in a film. In a move that seemed fitting for her character, Julia Dawn Cole even stole some props from the set she was instructed not to, including a golden ticket, a golden egg, and an Everlasting Gobstopper. We all would have done the same, let’s be honest.
While her Wonka co-stars would go their separate ways, with some continuing to act while others like Ostrum moved on from the profession, deciding to explore other interests. Cole herself would end up pursuing more roles in England while going on to also finish her time in school.
Down the Egg-Dicator
She would nab a recurring guest role in the first two seasons of the ITV sitcom And Mother Makes Three almost immediately starting in 1971, right after the premiere of Wonka. She would hop around the various sets of BBC and ITV studios, appearing across smaller shows and made for television movies for the next few years before landing a lead role in the medical drama Angels in 1975.
Her role as a nurse on the show would last through the end of the third season before Julia Dawn Cole decided to move on to other projects, next showing up for a recurring part in the prestige drama Poldark’s original run in 1977. She would appear in six episodes of the second and final season of the show.
The eighties were much the same for her in terms of projects, with more work happening around the BBC and ITV studios in England. The former Veruca Salt would appear in almost every other show across the networks during the decade, along with even more television specials and one-offs in tv movies and other presentations.
Moving Right Along
While her career would stay steady through the eighties and into the nineties, with roles on some of Great Britain’s most popular daytime soap operas like EastEnders, Doctors, and Emmerdale Farm (all three of which are somehow still running). She would eventually start to slow things down in the mid-90s, focusing on other goals instead of just acting.
While she would go on to be certified as a physical fitness trainer, that wouldn’t last nearly as long as the second passion she found- psychotherapy. She would become licensed in 2001, going on to begin her own psychotherapy business which she still works in today.
Even with such a busy life at a young age, Julia Dawn Cole still managed to keep a full personal life intact as well, meeting actor and ex-husband Nick Wilton in 1988 before they would marry in 1991. The couple would have two children together before filing for divorce in 2002.
What is Julia Dawn Cole doing now?
Julia Dawn Cole has retired from acting now, with her last few roles being returns to older daytime soaps she was in near the beginning of her career, including Emmerdale Farm in 2006 and Casualty in 2013. Casualty would be her final role to date on film or television, only appearing as herself for talk appearances since then.
Cole holds her role as Veruca Salt near and dear still, with a couple of stage revivals as an older version of the character in her home country receiving a fair amount of praise in 2010 during The Veruca Salt Sessions. She would also publish a memoir titled after her character’s infamous demand “I Want It Now!” in 2016.
These days Cole lives a quiet life in Surrey and has worked full-time in psychotherapy there since 2007. Cole has no plans to return to acting at this time but still does make time to reminisce about her role in the classic film about a zany Chocolatier.