Being Coleen: Chanel Cresswell stars in the TV drama The Trial of Agatha Christie

It was one of the most closely watched Supreme Court trials in recent years, and sparked gossip, memes and social comment across newspapers, Twitter and the legal industry.

But one person who didn’t keep up with the now-infamous “Wagatha Christie” trial – the prostitute of the digital age – was Chanel Cresswell, the actor who would follow in the footsteps of one of its main players.

Cresswell, best known as Kelly Jenkins on This is England, will play Coleen Rooney in Vardy v Rooney: A Courtroom Drama, which depicts the fraught battle between Rooney and Rebecca Vardy.

“I’m glad I didn’t catch up with the trial at the time, because I went into this project having just read the court transcripts, which I think were important,” Creswell said.

In order to prepare for the role, the BAFTA-winning actress said she had to separate what she had read about Ronnie from her identity as a person, deep down.

“It was very intimidating to play her, because it’s one of those roles that requires a lot of attention. Everyone feels like they grew up with Colleen in some way. When she was younger, she was on top of all the newspapers, and she’s a completely different person now.”

To do this, she said, she must begin to peel off the layers of Rooney one by one – examining how she behaves; How she referred to her family and friends.

“The last thing I wanted was to make her a caricature of herself. I had to watch a lot of documentaries to find out what was important to her, what were her roots, what were her foundations as a person. It just started with the fact that she is a mother, and a wife, and a daughter, and a sister. Once that I collected all the information that went from there.”

Cresswell said Ronnie was “a very loyal person” – a trait she wanted to draw attention to. “The media definitely has a certain view of it when it’s not necessarily the same.”

The trial, which has become one of the most expensive defamation cases in history, began three years ago when Rooney – who is married to former England footballer Wayne Rooney – conducted a ‘stinging’ operation to find out who was leaking stories from her private Instagram account. An account for reporters at The Sun.

Rooney identified the culprit with the infamous words posted on Instagram: “It is ……… Rebekah Vardy’s account” – which has successfully recreated the intrigue and conclusion of an Agatha Christie thriller for the age of social media.

Vardy, the wife of Leicester City footballer Jamie Vardy, denied passing the information to The Sun and sued Rooney for libel in a bid to restore her reputation, but lost her case in July.

“It’s one of those situations that escalated very, very quickly,” Cresswell said. She added that the trial gripped the nation because it offered “a real, honest view into these women’s lives. It gave people a chance to see beyond the glamorous facade of Wag life. There is no escaping the truth in the courtroom. We are a nation of celebrities and their rise and fall.”

Cresswell stars alongside Natalia Tena, who plays Vardy; Michael Sheen, who plays Ronnie’s lawyer David Sherburn; and Simon Currie, who plays Vardy’s attorney Hugh Tomlinson KC in the two-part legal drama.

The show uses verbatim court transcripts to recreate the case, which also thrust the two rival legal teams into the spotlight. Much like Rooney and Vardy, the lawyers’ every move was dissected in the courtroom and scrutinized in the press.

Sticking completely to court transcripts “was very different for me as an actor,” Creswell said, but necessary from a legal perspective. “I had to make sure I said the little words correctly. It took me a while to get used to this way of working.”

This process had the effect of feeling like a real life experience at times and helped her empathize with her own personality. “It must have been nerve-wracking to stand there alone, knowing that there were a sea of ​​journalists outside hanging on their every word,” she said.

The actress was also recently cast in Guy Ritchie’s Netflix series The Gentlemen, which she said was “my pinch moment.”

Vardy v Rooney: A Courtroom Drama on Channel 4 on 21st and 22nd December 9 p.m. onwards every 4

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