Belfast Telegraph

Tributes after death of actress Julie Maxwell on night out in Belfast

Julie Maxwell passed away after collapsing at a Belfast bar on Saturday evening
Julie Maxwell passed away after collapsing at a Belfast bar on Saturday evening
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

Friends and colleagues of a Northern Ireland actress who died suddenly have told of their shock over the loss of a "beautiful, kind and talented soul".

Julie Maxwell passed away after collapsing in a Belfast bar on Saturday night.

The 36-year-old had been enjoying a night out with friends when she fell unconscious shortly after 10pm.

Two ambulance crews were dispatched to the scene following a frantic 999 call, but efforts to save the star of BBC NI comedy Soft Border Patrol were in vain. Ms Maxwell was transferred to hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later.

The comedy writer's agent and close friend Philip Young paid tribute to the actress after he received the "absolutely terrible" news.

"It's really hard for us all at the minute," he said.

"The acting community in Northern Ireland is a close-knit crowd and we are all in shock.

"This is just a tragedy, she was so brilliant."

He said the north Belfast native was "such a truly beautiful, kind and talented soul".

"She was a force of nature that brought laughter and happiness to all that knew her, both on stage and off," he added.

Mr Young also offered heartfelt condolences to her husband and fellow actor Rhodri Lewis as he vowed Julie's "spirit will live on in each of us".

A PSNI spokesperson said a post-mortem examination will be carried out to determine the cause of death, which is not being treated as suspicious at this time.

The stage actress, who had previously won the Kenneth Branagh Renaissance Award and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Individual Artist Award, was a regular at the Lyric.

She impressed audiences with performances in countless shows including Joseph And His Technicolor Dreamcoat, Be My Baby, The Miser, The Crucible, Three Sisters and Ladykillers.

Caoileann Curry-Thompson, drama officer of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: "The Arts Council is deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic news of Julie's passing.

"On stage she was a wonderful, engaging, instinctual presence; off stage she was one of the most generous, warm, funny and unassuming people you could ever meet.

"Her talents and flair extended beyond acting, receiving an award from ACNI for playwriting and assistant directing Shirley Valentine at the Lyric at the time of her passing.

"Theatre in Northern Ireland is a close knit, familial sector, which survives by the brilliance and dedication of those who work in it. Our sector is devastated by Julie's death and the loss will be felt sorely by all and for a long time to come.

"Our thoughts are with her husband Rhodri, family and friends at this terrible time. Her absence will always be felt."

Ms Maxwell starred in two series of BBC NI comedy show Sketchy before taking up the role of a border agent in the mockumentary sitcom set in a post-Brexit world.

Justin Binding, the executive producer of the show, said he was "shocked and saddened" at news of Ms Maxwell's passing.

Marie McDonald, a producer on the show through production company The Comedy Unit, expressed shock after losing "a dear, dear friend".

Ms Maxwell met her husband while studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and they married two years ago.

Belfast Telegraph


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