It seems that we are always clamoring for more when it comes to Julia Child, the iconic cookbook author and TV personality. As a result, it’s only fitting that we also want to learn about one of the key people in her life—including her dear friend and celebrated literary agent Judith Jones, (Fiona Glascott), whose fellow clients included John Updike, Anne Tyler, Langston Hughes, Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre.
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As the layers of their intertwined lives are peeled back for Judith, Glascott reveals a devoted friend, who was with the culinary icon on every step of her joyous (but also tumultuous) journey as seen in Julia, the HBO Max series.
For example, when Julia was preparing for her revolutionary new show on PBS, Judith traveled to be by her side and help her plan every moment of the pilot episode.
While it has been more than 60 years since we sunk our teeth into The French Chef, and Mastering the Art of French Cooking, her landmark French cookbook changed our lives, Julia, the new series on HBO Max has us both mesmerized … and hungry for more.
Inspired by Child’s extraordinary life, scores of viewers were charmed by Season 1, which had its debut on May 5, and Julia Season 2, which started production in Boston in July, promises to serve scrumptious seconds.
At its heart, the series is a portrait of a loving marriage between Julia Child (Sarah Lancashire) and her adoring husband, Paul (David Hyde Pierce), with a shifting power dynamic, but there is a wide cast of characters in Julia’s life that makes everything all the more delicious.
Before Julia, Glascott, an Irish-born actress, was best known for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, though she appeared in dozens of other projects as well.
While there is so much to sink our teeth into when it comes to Julia, Glascott says that discovering all of the aspects of Judith—to capture as much about her personality as possible—was a thrilling research project. She read her memoirs and watched online interviews with those who knew Judith quite well.
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“I loved listening to how Judith took her authors out to great restaurants in New York because she loved every aspect of food so much. She wanted them to relax and to bring out the best in them,” Glascott exclusively tells Parade.com. “Judith wrote about how she had her authors come and visit, and one of them brought their mother to stay with her for a few days.”
Glascott adds that Judith’s ability to spot talent was a true gift. “She really believed in her authors, and I’m so impressed with her for everything, including writing her own cookbooks and her vision for recognizing the fact that Julia Child was that special. All of this was extraordinary!”
Read on to learn what Fiona Glascott adores about the HBOI Max series Julia, learning about Judith Jones and Julia Child, and why she is thrilled the series is soon taking her to France to film part of Season 2.
So, there’s so much to love and appreciate and embrace about Judith Jones. What are some of the things that you appreciated about her?
Fiona Glascott: How long have you got? The thing that struck me about Judith is that a lot of people, including me, did not know who this woman was, which I thought was crazy when I then read all of her wonderful achievements.
I was inspired by her insight into taking The Diary of Anne Frank from the reject pile and turning it into a legendary book; her literary genius, her love of France, people, cooking and food, and the way she would work with her authors to bring out the best in them.
How did you find out about Judith, who is clearly such an integral part of Julia Child’s story?
I read her memoirs and I read a lot about her. Luckily and thankfully, I read great interviews with Judith online, and I could really study past what you would read in her memoirs and what people wrote about her to see how animated she could be, how interested she was in people, and how she listened to them.
She would just do anything so that she could make these authors feel comfortable enough to get to the point where they were doing their best work, and that blew me away. There was no point where she went, “That’s enough. I’m not going to go any further.”
What do you want to happen to Judith in Season 2?
I don’t know which way they’re going to go, but I would love to see her with more of her authors. We were lucky last time, we saw John Updike, which was great, and I loved filming those scenes, but I’d love to see more of Judith’s one-on-one with her authors, how she speaks to them and what happens with that.
Maybe it would be interesting to see more of her personal life. I really loved the fact that we dealt with Judith’s professional life, not just with Judith but with Blanche Knopf (Judith Light), who I adore, the actress and the character that she’s playing, who was incredible and brilliant to work with.
I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with those two characters as well. That’s one of the most exciting things at the start of the next series. I don’t really know what we’re going to do, but I would imagine that we would see more of what happens with those two, especially how it ended in Season 1.
Some of the cast, and I would assume Judith, are going to France for Simca and Julia to work on the second cookbook and cook together and see the locals. How do you feel about that?
Very excited! Oh my God. It’s so wonderful because Judith used to frequently go to France with Julia and they would cook together. Once they had Thanksgiving there, and Julia used the stick of a broom to sort of break a bone in a turkey, something extraordinary. It was one of the many insane things that happened right in front of her. So, yes, that would be pretty amazing.
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There was a lot of food in the making of this show. Do you have one or two favorites?
I think my favorite was the chicken dinner in the pilot because I love that scene so much, and it’s such an interesting game that they’re playing altogether, and you see them enjoying this pretty simple meal, but it was, you know, absolutely delicious, and I loved that. I love that scene, and also, I’m sure you know, but we had Christine Tobin, a chef, on the studio floor who was cooking everything from scratch with Julia Child’s recipes and following them to the letter. So, that was really exciting. We knew we were eating the real Julia Child food.
Did you have problems maintaining your weight while you made such a food-oriented show?
Well, the second one I’ll answer first, which is not really, because, in the days where I filmed scenes where I had to eat, I just wouldn’t eat lunch, and the food I was eating like in the oyster bar was protein, and there was chicken, and I suppose I was sort of fine to just not eat for the rest of that day and eat that food. I think maybe Sarah and David might have felt different about it because they had more scenes where they ate more meals, but for me, I was just so thrilled to literally get my teeth stuck into this food. It was incredible. I loved it. I’d like more of it.
Why do you feel that this show in general and Julia Child makes people feel so positive, happy and yearning to cook? Why do we care about her life, her friends, and her entire story?
I think Julia had a really unique characteristic of continuing to preserve what she was interested in and what she believed in, and what she believed in was good company, good food, getting together, and being positive and lifting the people up around her, and I think this energy that she had and this work ethic, a very strong work ethic.
Judith writes about when they work on the books together, on the recipes, they stay up until 11 or 11:30 at night, and they work, work, work, and then they cook dinner, and so, goodness knows what time they go to bed, but that’s their schedule. They work, work, work, and I think that people admire her. She has this extraordinary, wonderful, warm personality that really lifts people up, and she is so excited about what she does.
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I think that that ignites that excitement in people, and everyone loves food, but I’m quite intimidated by some of these big recipes or big dishes, and I think, “Well, you know, that’s not something I can make,” but Julia wrote a cookbook that told people that they could do it, and I think that that’s an extraordinary feeling to be at home and go, “OK, can I do it?”
Then you follow it, because she writes it so beautifully, and that’s such an extraordinary feeling for people. So, with all of that energy together sort of drew in these other people, like Judith Jones and Russell Morash and Avis DeVoto and all of these people around her that they, together, worked to help Julia, but then Julia also helped them, and it became this really positive, bubbly stew of people really succeeding in getting somewhere.
What was your reaction to hearing that Julia was picked up for Season 2 and the announcement was made before we were done with Season 1?
It was just thrilling! I have been so hoping because not only is it … it is a great show, and I know I’m in it, but I really enjoy watching everybody else in it and their performances and the way the relationship is between Paul and Julia, that relationship between David and Sarah is so beautiful and so real and believable. I had such a great time doing it. I genuinely loved doing it, loved playing the character, and really wanted to investigate more of Judith Jones.
So, I was just over the moon really. Really, really thrilled.
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What did you specifically learn about yourself as an actress, and maybe just as a person, from doing Julia?
That’s a really good question. What I know about myself anyway is that I love working, and I love working hard, and Julia gave me the opportunity to study this woman for a long time, and not just what she had done, but also, you know, how she places the sound in her mouth for her accent, how she carries herself. She was incredibly warm and witty, and she smiled easily.
All of these things I had time to study and work on because this woman, this extraordinary woman existed, and I was given this amazing opportunity to play her, and it just reminded me even more how much I love to get into the little nitty-gritty of characters, and having the opportunity to read what she wrote about herself, what other people wrote about her and to study her being interviewed. I was able to get into the little tiny details that make up a person really, not just a character, but actually a fully formed person and then to be able to play that character in different situations.
How quickly did you feel chemistry with Sarah Lancashire and David Hyde Pierce?
Instantly. I have watched and adored, like all of us, their performances for years, and personally, when you meet them both, they are just lovely, friendly actors who are there, interested in the work and in everybody having a nice time together and investigating this, and you know, making our job.
Everybody was so determined to do the right thing for these people because they weren’t just characters, and they were just joyful. The first time I met them both was during a rehearsal for the pilot, and the three of us were in the hotel, and the other actors were in their own homes and they were going to Zoom in for the read-through, and Sarah and David and I were in a room together and we were going to Zoom, and then it ended up being that we all had to go back to our hotel rooms, but just joyful, instantly comfortable. Lovely people.
What else are you looking forward to in Julia Season 2?
I’m looking forward to Judith and Blanche’s scenes because I can imagine there will be some and they will be interesting. I’m looking forward to doing more with the other actors, Sarah and David specifically because I’ve worked with them more, but I’d love to be working more with all of them. I’m looking forward to more food.
Somebody said to me, “It’s not like taking a breath of fresh air watching this. It’s a bit like you relax when you’re watching this.” It’s interesting. It’s funny. It’s dealing with real people in real situations.
Lastly, if somebody hasn’t seen Julia yet, why do you urge them or encourage them to watch it?
You will learn something without even realizing you’re learning it. It’s going to make you hungry, but hopefully, it’s going to make you start cooking, you know, interesting food, and it’s just joyful. I think it’s something everyone should watch because I just think people are really going to enjoy it, and I think that we all really need that, particularly at the moment. It feels like a warm hug.
Season 1 of Julia is streaming on HBO Max.
For more Julia goodness, find out how David Hyde Pierce plays Julia Child’s adoring and supportive husband Paul.