Rebekah Staton: ‘Clint Eastwood is the coolest person I’ve ever met’

The Ordinary Lies star on her role depicting domestic abuse in a gay relationship and the online fight to save Caitlin and Caroline Moran’s sitcom, Raised By Wolves

Rebekah Staton, 35, is a Rada-trained actor from Staffordshire who was educated just outside Wolverhampton. She’s best known for her comedy roles in Pulling and Raised By Wolves, Caitlin and Caroline Moran’s autobiographical sitcom about their childhood. Staton has appeared in dramas such as State of Play, Wallander and Doctor Who and is currently starring in BBC1 drama Ordinary Lies.

You’re superb as single mum Della in Raised By Wolves. How did you feel when Channel 4 didn’t recommission it?
Devastated. Devvo-ed, mate. But the great thing about working with the Morans is they have got such a can-do attitude. They don’t let things lie and I love that. If people want to watch more, why should we stop making it? Maybe Caitlin and Caz can be our bosses instead.

They have set up a Save the Wolves Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund more episodes. How’s it going?
It’s only been running a few days but people have already pledged £100k. Crowdfunding [TV] has worked in America before and we feel that if it’s going to work here, this is a great show to do it. The more money we raise, the more we’ll make – from a single episode to an entire series.

You’re also offering paid internships on the show…
Yes, Caitlin got her big break by winning the Observer young reporter of the year award 25 years ago. Now she wants to offer the same, helping discover new writing and production talent, which is ace.

Della’s become something of a sex symbol, hasn’t she?
Well, darling, I’m glad you’ve noticed. [Laughs.] I’ve never had that before with a character so I’m not going to lie – I have enjoyed that. A nice bit of flirting now and then. I never dreamed I’d get to play a role like this, with a Wolverhampton accent and all the local references. The show’s made with such a collaborative spirit, too. So when I meet people and they say they love Della, it’s really exciting.

Is it true your portrayal was inspired by Clint Eastwood?
Yeah, I worked with Clint on a film called Hereafter – couldn’t believe my luck – and when I met Caitlin and Caz to discuss the role, I said: “I’m worried Della’s just going to be a shouty, angry mum and not very cool. The coolest person I’ve ever met is Clint Eastwood. What if she’s like that?” And their faces lit up.

She swaggers like Clint, wearing those boots, fag in her mouth…
The Morans are all about DM boots. They do not like a heeled shoe. They believe the power is in the sole. And that sole is a flat sole.

Raised By Wolves trailer.

There’s a real relish of language in the scripts too.
Moranese, I call it. The dialogue goes at such speed. There are big speeches too. It keeps me up at night, learning those! It’s so rare as a woman to get long, talky speeches. I remember saying to Caz and Caitlin how I love Sherlock and Hamlet – but it’s the boys’ bits I like. Finally getting a crack at that is what’s been so joyful.

Do people shout lines at you in the street?
They’ve been known to call me “bab”, but “We’re not northern twats, we’re not southern twats, we’re Midlands twats” is the one people ask me to say most often, which is a pleasure. I’m just glad I didn’t get landed with “Wank away the pain” like poor Helen [Monks, who plays Caitlin Moran’s alter ego, Germaine]. I’ve just had a baby and when I walked into the hospital, the nurse turned out to be a huge Della fan, which was gratifying, if a bit weird under the circumstances.

Congratulations. Perhaps the baby can get one of the internships.
I was thinking I’d hatched a new cast member, but you’re right – a tiny intern! Sitting in a little director’s high chair.

Will you be adopting any of Della’s parenting techniques?
I love Della’s no-messing parenting style, but I suspect I’ll inevitably be a bit softer.

Juno writer Diablo Cody is adapting Raised By Wolves for a US version. How will it feel to see an American Della?
A bit like somebody borrowing your boyfriend. But I don’t mind sharing.

You were also in Pulling, another comedy that got cancelled too soon…
I loved that show. [Co-star and co-creator] Sharon Horgan is incredible. She’s always been incredible, so it’s great that people are realising that and she’s now so successful. Sharon’s a real grafter and I’m chuffed for her.

You’re currently starring in the BBC1 drama Ordinary Lies. Who do you play?
A forklift truck driver called Wendy. You see her working in the warehouse and assume she’s an affable sort, one of the lads. But when Wendy gets an episode all to herself, she turns out to be full of surprises. She’s head over heels in love but suddenly has to deal with her stalker-ish ex – and things escalate from there.

It tackles the topic of domestic violence in lesbian relationships. Was that interesting to explore?
Very much so. You don’t often see conflict between same-sex couples on TV, so that was one of the reasons I was attracted to the role.

Is Wendy the first gay character you’ve played?
No, darling! Interestingly, I’ve actually played a Welsh lesbian before. I’m typecast!

Did you have to learn to drive a forklift?
Yep, I’m now fully qualified. So if this acting lark goes pear-shaped, I’ve always got that to fall back on.

You played a Doctor Who baddie in the David Tennant era. How was that?
Brilliant. I’m a big fan, so when I found out the Doctor was going to chuck me out of the Tardis and into infinity, I was thrilled. My character’s still floating around somewhere out there, so if they ever want to pick her up and get me back, they’d be most welcome.

You’re also the narrator of Don’t Tell the Bride. That must be fun?
I’ve been doing it for eight years now but I never tire of it, because it’s amazing what people will do when they’re organising weddings. I sometimes peek at the Twitter hashtag when it’s on and people are usually furious. I enjoy their fury.

Don’t Tell the Bride is many people’s TV guilty pleasure. What’s yours?
Keeping Up With the Kardashians. I only tuned in to find out who the hell they were and why they were so famous, then I got hooked. So shaming.

Ordinary Lies is broadcast on Tuesdays, 9pm on BBC1


Michael Hogan

The GuardianTramp

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