Obituary: Julia Wilson-Dickson
As an admired voice coach and dialect teacher, Julia Wilson-Dickson worked with some of the most famous actors of her generation on stage and screen.
With a nuanced ear for accents and an acute understanding of text and performing (she was an accomplished singer and oboist), director Franco Zeffirelli famously christened her “Mrs Shakespeare” when she worked on his 1990 screen version of Hamlet, starring Mel Gibson in the title role and Glenn Close as Gertrude.
Her stage work in London included a long association with Peter Hall, both at the National Theatre and for his commercial company, for whom she tutored Anthony Hopkins and Judi Dench (an Olivier award-winning performance) in Antony and Cleopatra (National Theatre, 1987), Vanessa Redgrave’s Lady Torrance in Orpheus Descending (Haymarket Theatre, 1988) and Dustin Hoffman as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice (Phoenix Theatre, 1989).
At the National Theatre in 1989 she worked on Peter Gill’s Juno and the Paycock and Peter Wood’s The Beaux’ Stratagem.
She collaborated with Max Stafford-Clark at the Royal Court, London, on Our Country’s Good (1988) and The Queen and I (1994), and with the casts of Sam Mendes’ 1995 Donmar Warehouse productions of Company and The Glass Menagerie, which both transferred to the Comedy Theatre (now Harold Pinter Theatre).
On film, Wilson-Dickson coached Robert de Niro as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), Helena Bonham-Carter in Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite (1995), Julianne Moore (The End of the Affair, 1999), Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs, 2011) and Eddie Redmayne’s Oscar-winning role as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything (2014).
Films not yet released that she worked on include Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur (Jude Law), Now You See Me 2 (Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine) and The Kaiser’s Last Kiss (Christopher Plummer and Lily James).
Her wide-ranging television credits on both sides of the Atlantic encompassed Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1989), Spooks (2002), Stephen Poliakoff’s The Lost Prince (2003), The Good Wife (2009) and Wolf Hall (2015).
Born in Brighton to a civil servant father and former actress mother Olivia (nee Rudder), she trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama, to where she returned as a teacher from 1974-87. She was also highly influential in gaining greater recognition for dialect coaches within the British film industry.
Julia Wilson-Dickson was born on August 2, 1949 and died, following a brain haemorrhage, on October 16, aged 66. She is survived by her brother, the pianist and composer Andrew.
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