OTB Meets… This Is England Star Chanel Cresswell

Chanel Cresswell shot to fame in the brutal ’80s-set skinhead drama This Is England, one of the decade’s best British films. She currently appears in Sky1’s Trollied, the second series of which is airing at the moment on Wednesday nights. OTB caught up with Chanel to talk supermarkets, Shane Meadows and pink mohicans…

Hi Chanel, how are you this morning?
I’m good, thanks. You?

I’m fine, thanks. You’re working with some of the best British actors around like Jane Horrocks on Trollied…
Yeah, when I got the role I was a bit daunted, I grew up watching her on Ab Fab, but she’s great. I was over the moon with the cast and the atmosphere on set is exactly how you see it on screen. It’s a real giggle and a laugh for everybody, we’ve all bonded and gelled really well.

I used to work in a supermarket when I was a teenager. I hated it to be honest. What’s it like working in a fictional one?
I feel like I do work in one! The fun side of it is we get to eat all the food on set, we once went to film a scene by the counter and realised we’d eaten all the Tic Tacs! We didn’t get told off though so it was fine…

How did you win your role on This Is England?
It was really nerve-racking actually… My friend Vicky (McClure) had already won a part, so I went along to the audition where there were about 15 kids in a room, and Shane came down and picked a few of us out of the group.

You all seem to have a great on-screen chemistry, no doubt helped that you are friends off-screen too…
I think that’s important in any film or television project, to get the cast right, so that you all gel, otherwise it wouldn’t have worked.

What’s Shane Meadows like to work with?
He’s kinda like your uncle… when it’s a serious scene you knuckle down, he’ll throw you into a scenario and you just have to work at it. If it’s a comic scene you’ll hear him chuckling behind the monitors, having to walk away because he’s putting everybody off!

Stephen Graham always plays nutcases, but what’s he like in real life?
He’s just a nice scouser… I always forget he’s a scouser! He’s a really nice guy and a laugh as well. Originally in This Is England I had a lot of scenes with Stephen Graham, but they used a different storyline in the end so those scenes weren’t seen in the film. I was 15 at the time and he helped me a lot.

What was it like walking around with an ’80s haircut when you were filming This Is England?
It was really strange having a skinhead at 15 at school, but I was lucky I had an older sister and brother and a lot of friends. The headmaster allowed it and he was really supportive. I walked into a pub once and actually got kicked out because of my hair which was quite weird! I had a lot of funny looks when I had my pink mohican, it was astonishing the amount of attention it got. I’d go out clubbing and more guys would approach me with shaved sides and a mohican than long blonde hair!

Do you have idea when This Is England ’90 will happen?
We’re all hoping This Is England ’90 will go ahead, we’re all on tenterhooks waiting for the phone call to confirm it. We don’t really know anything about it other than the fact it will be set in 1990, around the World Cup, everybody raving.

Who would you say are your acting influences?
To be honest I like to walk my own footsteps, I think there’s some amazing people around at the moment, Olivia Colman for example. Everyone does their own thing and we’re all unique so I try not to adopt techniques of other people. I like to tread my own path.

What acting ambitions do you have?
I’m into supernatural thrillers like True Blood, that’s how I got into acting… you escape into this world that’s so much better than your life, different worlds that aren’t real. Helena Bonham Carter does these amazing character pieces, and that’s how I started off, doing character roles. I would definitely like to go back to films as well. I started in film I’d like to end in film.

Best of luck with that. Thanks for chatting to us, Chanel.

Trollied continues on Friday nights at 9pm on Sky1.

David Lintott is on Twitter and blogs at Donkey Rhubarb.