Interview: Julie Hart talks about Bret, Owen, Montreal…and being a Hart

julie bookJulie Hart’s easy to track down on Twitter – and more than that, she’s easy to chat to there as well. However, she’s not so easy to talk to in real time, because she’s a very busy woman.

“I’m currently in credit classes that will enable me to get into social work in the fall of 2014,” she explains. “Four long years of school! I suppose I should have done this 11 years ago when I first went back to university…ah, life! I’m a tad more focused [now] on what I want to do with my remaining years and social work seems like a good fit for me.

“I’m still very much involved in charity work, but my feeling now is to get into the homes of broken families and do what I can for them. I can relate on so many levels. I guess that’s not hard to figure out after reading my book!”

Julie is, of course, the ex-wife of the legendary Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart, and the latest of the extended Hart clan to publish a memoir – hers is called ‘Hart Strings’ and subtitled ‘My Life With Bret and the Hart Family’.

It’s a short book, but a tough read. She did not have the easiest of childhoods, and the problems in her marriage to Bret have already been well documented.

“I gave up on [the book] many times over the years,” she admits. “I was never happy with something in it – rewrites galore, and emotionally I was tired of looking at it.

“Oddly, a friend of mine who is an author and a journalist contacted me and asked what was up with it. I was very blasé about the whole book thing and blew it off in my best Julie Hart manner! ‘Na, there ain’t gonna be a book, I’m sick of it.’ Of course he was shocked and tried various methods to convince me – I eventually gave in and said, ‘Okay, have at it!’ So everything worked out lovely and nice.”

Bret’s own book is one of the most highly regarded wrestling autobiographies, with its insight into his life twinned with his searing honesty about his infidelity. Though Bret’s words on their marriage were no doubt candid from his perspective, unless you are the most blinkered of Hitman fans it’s difficult when reading not to feel some sympathy for the young woman left to raise a quartet of children practically by herself – while the husband she clearly adored was on the road and consumed by his desire to succeed in his career.

Once you contextualise this with Julie’s side of the story, you begin to understand just what a powderkeg that marriage was – and why neither of them ever seemed to be able to simply be happy with each other.

“Biographies often strip people bare,” reflects Julie. “I think I always knew. A woman’s intuition is never wrong; denial is often a sweet companion too. I guess I was shaken to the core.”

She says their four children were “cool as watermelon on a hot sunny day” when she told them of her intention to publish her own book.

“My kids are very supportive of me. I guess that helps when one decides to publish one’s memoirs. We had some discussions on content and it was decided earlier on that there would be no mudslinging,” she says.

Julie is still in touch with most of her former in-laws, and says she’s recently spoken to her ex-sister-in-law Diana Hart Smith – herself the author of a very controversial autobiography – to discuss their books.

Indeed, Julie is vocal about her fondness for Bret’s relatives, particularly his formidable late parents Stu and Helen: “Loved them. Love them all. Still do,” she says. “Yes, meeting them all was a tad scary. I suppose I was given the wrong heads up about them. Thank Bret for that. They were the opposite of what he painted them out to be – much like any of us describing our siblings…”

Anyone who’s read any of the Hart literary oeuvre will have noted very quickly that the late, lamented Owen is invariably the only one of the pack who’s spoken well of by everyone. While everyone else seems to have been involved in some kind of familial feud at one point or another, Owen is always described as the nicest by far of Stu and Helen’s children. Julie agrees.

“He was everything that Stu was: honest, moral, family-oriented.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly for someone with her career aspirations, Julie’s groundedness in her family is obvious, even when she’s reflecting back on the tougher times – such as the notorious Montreal Screwjob. It might have been an epoch in professional wrestling, but it also had a massive impact on the Harts’ home life.

“It was tough to see Bret go through that, and at the time there wasn’t cause for a lot of happiness in our family,” she recalls. “His moods affected us all – and not to mention my own identity crisis and shit I was going through. So we weren’t exactly ‘living the dream’ during those times.”

She quickly moves on, though: “But here were are today in this moment and we are all thriving and surviving despite Montreal. I think living in the past and dwelling on the negative has long been kicked to the curb. I’m grateful for my fantastic children- Jade, Dallas, Beans and Blade. I’m beyond the moon when it comes to my granddaughter, Kyra Beans! My life has purpose. The meaning of life for me is the unconditional love within my family unit. And I sure have a lot of that.”

Julie Hart’s book Hart Strings is available to buy now.

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