“If it scares you, you must do it!” says Chanel Cresswell. The actress is telling me why she accepted the position of Coleen Rooney in Channel 4’s Vardy v Rooney: A Courtroom Drama, which brings the so-called “Wagatha Christie” trial to our screens.
Until you’ve been stranded on a desert island for the previous three years, you’ll know the crux of this story: that after conducting her personal “investigation” on her non-public Instagram account, Rooney (spouse of retired footballer Wayne Rooney) accused Rebekah Vardy (spouse of Leicester Metropolis striker Jamie Vardy) of leaking tales about her to The Solar. Rooney’s now-infamous October 2019 social media submit, which has been memed greater than virtually every other, ended with 4 phrases that modified the world: “It’s………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
Rooney’s submit and the various, many jokes that adopted turned out to be only the start. Vardy all the time denied Rooney’s accusations and she or he ultimately pursued her for damages, claiming Rooney had defamed her. This culminated in a dramatic Excessive Courtroom libel trial, the place Rooney’s authorized staff tried to show that Vardy was concerned in leaking the tales.
Through the trial, we noticed the ladies strutting out and in of court docket clutching purses that price greater than a deposit for a flat, with their husbands in tow. We heard tall tales about telephones that mysteriously fell into the North Sea. WhatsApp messages between Vardy and her agent have been learn out, which pulled again the curtain of the grubby world of tabloid celeb and painted a damning image of her character. Ultimately, Vardy by some means got here out of the trial wanting even worse than she did earlier than. Not solely did she lose the trial, however she was left to choose up the authorized invoice, which was reportedly within the area of £3m.
Channel 4’s courtroom drama, which Cresswell stars in alongside Natalia Tena and Michael Sheen, focuses on the trial itself. If viewers are tuning in hoping to see the complete backstory of Vardy’s agent promoting tales (and Rooney catching them) changed into a high-camp, cleaning soap opera-style drama, then this won’t be the present for them. (Though such a factor is undoubtedly within the works someplace). Nonetheless, it options loads of scandalous moments from the trial, which individuals may need missed within the avalanche of media reporting, whereas providing a extra nuanced view of the saga now that the mud has settled. As Rooney, Cresswell is quietly livid for many of her time on display screen, armed with the identical sense of justice that propelled real-life Rooney to her trial victory.
On the age of simply 15, Cresswell was thrown into the media glare herself when she starred in Shane Meadows’ 2006 movie This Is England. She reprised the position of Kelly Jenkins within the three subsequent TV sequence in 2010, 2011 and 2015, which all aired on Channel 4. As a teen, she says she had little curiosity in being a “celeb”. Nonetheless, the position gave her “a very good head begin within the performing sport”, setting her up for the remainder of the roles she’s performed. Extra not too long ago, she has appeared in ITV’s The Bay and BBC One’s Sherwood. After hanging up Rooney’s false lashes, her subsequent challenge will likely be Man Ritchie’s TV sequence follow-up to The Gents, which is able to stream globally on Netflix.
Surprisingly, Cresswell says she didn’t comply with “Wagatha Christie” on the time. Just about every thing she has realized about it was in preparation for the position.
“Once I noticed the paperwork in entrance of me from the trial, it was fairly stunning how the media grabbed onto this and turned it into its personal beast,” she says.
A part of what attracted her to this specific challenge was that, regardless of being a narrative about two ladies in a infamous feud, she thinks it’s pretty sympathetic to each events – even Vardy, who has been broadly interpreted because the villain of the story.
“We didn’t need to play into that and, as a viewer, you do really feel compassion,” she says. “I feel the present is excellent at setting a stage taking part in area between these ladies. I might see from the script it wasn’t a hate marketing campaign in direction of only one social gathering.”
With Vardy, we see the toll that vicious social media trolling – which began when she was closely pregnant – has taken on her life.
“That was most likely one of many greatest tragedies,” Cresswell says. “I don’t see how folks can have that in them to go on their laptops, or their telephones and try this!” And though most of us can’t think about making an personal aim this public and costly, there’s a relatability to the second when, on the witness stand, Vardy realises that taking this case to trial was an enormous mistake.
Cresswell tells me that she is beginning to have extra enjoyable with the roles she picks. She jokes that, more often than not, she performs ladies with their hair and make-up far and wide, navigating troublesome and traumatic circumstances. In that sense, pristine Coleen appears like a departure. However there’s a darkness to the position too. We see how navigating the world of celeb, the place even the smallest non-public areas are intruded into and exploited for revenue, has made her guarded.
“It have to be fairly suffocating and make you fairly really feel so paranoid,” she says. “To assume that your family and friends may very well be promoting you out at any second – that’s why she was so decided to resolve this.”
To organize for the position (and Rooney’s very particular Scouse accent) Cresswell watched interviews along with her, plus outdated episodes of Coleen’s Actual Girls – a 2008 TV present that noticed Rooney attempt to get “actual” ladies in magnificence campaigns. She additionally watched ROONEY, the Amazon documentary on the life and profession of her husband Wayne. Within the documentary, he describes his points with alcoholism and well-documented infidelities.
Watching each of those again to again, Cresswell was struck by how a lot Rooney had modified over time. “Watching Coleen up to now, I feel that’s the Coleen that everybody thinks that they know. She nonetheless has a naivety and might be within the highlight just a little bit and embracing it.” However over time, Cresswell thinks she’s been compelled to place extra obstacles up. “She’s positively hardened and, on this trial, I feel there was additionally a way that she has confirmed she’s a completely totally different lady now. She’s not taking anybody’s s**t!”
Channel 4’s tackle Vardy v Rooney won’t be the camp spectacle some hoped for. But it surely does ask necessary questions concerning the technique of turning somebody right into a villain.
“I feel one of many foremost issues with this story was simply how a lot hate the tabloids can generate,” Cresswell says. However with the trial sought by Vardy herself, it additionally touches on how, in at present’s world, infamy will be harnessed for cash, energy and affect.
Cresswell thinks it asks viewers a query too: “Once you watch, you actually do have to take a seat again and ask your self why you’ve been so on this? How did this story develop into so enormous? For me, that’s the most fascinating half.”
Vardy V Rooney: A Courtroom Drama begins tonight at 9pm on Channel 4, and concludes tomorrow evening