A native of the Surrey town of Guildford, Julie Dawn Cole was twelve when she was cast in the iconic role during the project's pre-production phase in the first half of 1970 (she celebrated her 13th birthday eight weeks into the movie's 11½-week filming schedule in southeastern Germany's sprawling production complex, Bavaria Film Studios). The film debuted in New York on 30 June1971 and in London the following week, with Julie chosen to present a bouquet of flowers to Princess Margaret at the Royal Premiere. Her salary for playing Veruca was an extremely modest £600, moving her to speculate years later that her mother probably blew the entire paycheck for family tickets to the Premiere. Decades later, she has been laughingly telling interviewers that at least she still has an unscheduled, self-presented bonus from the film—two props, the "Everlasting Gobstopper" and the "Wonka Golden Ticket", which she managed to keep despite being told to return them. She and the film's other pre-adolescent "leading lady" American Denise Nickerson (playing Violet Beauregarde), both had crushes on Willy Wonka's Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum, also an American) and alternated days spending time with him during breaks in filming.
Of the five child actors with speaking roles in the film, Julie Dawn Cole is the only one to have continued performing, accumulating numerous, primarily television, credits in soaps and mini-series—gaining some brief notoriety a few years later, at the age of 19, playing Rowella in the second series of BBC's popular 1975–77 costume drama Poldark, in which her nude scene, although tastefully presented, raised some eyebrows, especially since it was shown before the traditional 9 p.m. adult watershed. Other credits include a 1982 episode of Tales of the Unexpected .
In her long career, she has accumulated a number of theatrical credits as well as some work in pantomime. She is also sought-after for voice-over work, in which her mellifluous tones have served her in good stead. After qualifying in 1998 as a fitness instructor, she has been working in the 2000s on various projects, including the 2005 ITV series Fat Families, as fitness advisor to one of the title families. In 2006, she was seen on the popular soap Emmerdale and appeared in a television advertisement for car insurance comparison website confused.com, playing the woman with the dog.