Everyone deserves their day in court – but Pierce Harris deserves way more… he deserves everything he gets when it comes to being tried for the horrific rape of Rhona Goskirk on their wedding day. Emmerdale actors Zoe Henry and Jonathan Wrather talk about this week’s episodes in court which will see a resolution for what has been a hell of a year for Rhona Goskirk and an incredibly powerful storyline.
Understandably, Rhona, played by Zoe Henry, is a bag of nerves as are her friends Vanessa Woodfield (Michelle Hardwick) and Marlon Dingle (Mark Charnock) who are also set to take to the stand. The villagers of Emmerdale are out in force to support Rhona, but it won’t be an easy battle as Pierce, himself a lawyer, knows the law better than anyone. He also has his creepy mother on his side. But fingers crossed the truth will out…
Emmerdale actors Zoe Henry and Jonathan Wrather talk about this week’s episodes in court which will see a resolution for what has been a hell of a year for Rhona Goskirk and an incredibly powerful storyline.
Is Pierce planning on using the sex tape as evidence?
Jonathan: When the sex tape first reared its head, there was always something about it – when something’s out there, it’s out there. Those scenes we had way back when, it was almost like she was in the dock and he was prowling around talking about rape cases and about how the sex tape is going to look very poor against her. Obviously, he was putting this immense cohesive pressure on her not to proceed or press charges, or just to try and brainwash her that what happened didn’t really happen in the way that she believed it did. So the sex tape has always been a tool for him to spin the story in the way that he wanted to.
Zoe: It has a connotation as well, it sounds seedy. It sounds like you’ve been up to no good. It’s a slur on anybody’s name and she’s a professional woman with a business to run so there’s all that side of it for her as well and he knows that. He knows what he’s doing.
How does Rhona feel as the trial gets underway? Does she feel she has no chance?
Zoe: Yes, I think so. Particularly after she’s first in the dock. It goes very well with the prosecution – as you would imagine – but his defence lawyer absolutely annihilates her. She’s an actress who I’ve known for years and she’s brilliant. It’s right and they cast a woman which is apparently very common in this situation, in sexual assault cases. It becomes quite clear that Rhona’s losing it and the jury are wavering almost immediately. Then there are a few other things that happen, Vanessa tries her best to help but actually ends up making things a whole lot worse. So, by the end of day two, I think the audience will be thinking: ‘That’s not looking good for her.’ And it isn’t, it really isn’t.
He uses a picture of her and Paddy too, doesn’t he?
Jonathan: She’s been surreptitiously caught out by Pierce in a very controlling way which will make his case look a whole lot better. The sex tape, the photograph of the two of them in a clinch, all those things, they’re sort of visual things so they have much more of an impact.
Zoe: Basically, he’s saying it was consensual sex – it was rough, here’s the sex tape, we like rough sex, she’s quite happy about that – here’s what we do. We had sex, and then she realised she couldn’t go through with our marriage, even though we’d already got married, and it all also came out that there had been a kiss with Paddy. But he had been forgiving about that.
Jonathan: Their stories are very similar but the endings are always different. So from Pierce’s point of view, he spins it to suggest that actually she comes out and says: ‘I can’t go through with this, I can’t marry you, I’m in love with my ex. I’ve made a mistake.’ So all these things are sort of layered up against Rhona, it makes her case look weaker and weaker. He thinks on his feet a lot, but he also sort of planned an element of this so keeping hold of the sex tape was always going to be ammunition, for example.
Zoe: The defence lawyer doesn’t just annihilate Rhona with the sex tape and the photographs, but she annihilates everybody that goes in the dock. Vanessa crumbles, even Jimmy and Marlon, it couldn’t go any worse for Rhona really.
Is she feeling humiliated?
Zoe: Yeah, but she’s prepared for that but what she’s not prepared for is how the defence twist it and say: ‘Well, you have had rough sex before.’ And there’s these photographs of her from the SARC centre, so there are pictures of bruises on her wrists, and there are pictures of her knees, and pictures of her back and the injuries that were sustained from the alleged rape. But the defence twist it in such a way to say: ‘But you have a history of rough sex with this man, because there is a sex tape to prove that. So are you telling me you haven’t received bruises before?’The rug just gets whipped from under her. It actually goes far worse.
Jonathan, when you’re playing the role, what do you think of Pierce – is he in denial? Is he manipulating the crowd?
Jonathan: He does have this capacity to delude himself. If he says it, then it’s truth. There are people like that, I think it’s sort of a form of psychosis or something, but he does know that what he’s done is wrong. He cannot face up to admitting to it, it’s just too big. And if he did, he would just crumble. There’s too much at stake.
He can sort of fool himself as easily as he can fool others, I suppose, he has that capacity and that’s very dangerous. He’s not just an out and out baddie in the sense that he knows what he’s done, but he’s just prepared to do anything at any cost to get off. He’s clever with the truth, but he’s clever with the slightly non-truth as well. And the two sort of blend into one.
The stakes are so high – he’ll go to prison, he’ll ruin everything, his life, his career, his relationship, he does love Rhona. This is the kind of extraordinary thing about it, yet has the capacity to do these things and behave in this way. So it’s very complex, it’s interesting.
How does his relationship with his mum change? Will we find out what went on in their past?
Jonathan: Yeah, well I was thinking the same and hoping as such. There’s things that are alluded to, there’s a whole nest, a whole thing there, which I don’t think was part of the storyline. But there is something very interesting and we sort of amongst ourselves, Elaine Claxton and I, worked out what we thought may have happened to sort of make it more truthful you know, for us? he does blame her because of his upbringing and the way she treated him.
But again, we’ve already seen that actually his version of events are slightly different to the reality of the events. So he’s skewed everything in his mind. But he blames her for the fact she left the family, she was a terrible drunkard, she ran off with lots of other men and it’s just not true really.
She had a couple of weeks we know where – or so she says, but we do sort of take her at face value because of Pierce’s nature – where she was just off the rails where, yes, she was drinking and she may have had a sort of dalliance with someone else but it wasn’t long-term.So Pierce’s story was that he was left to raise his two younger sisters and it’s not entirely true, he sort of spun that a bit.
Beyond that, we sort of decided perhaps there’s something potentially a little untoward but I don’t know how you would approach that. There was just something interesting, he became the patriarch of the family.
Is Rhona questioning Pierce in the court house on her own a game changer?
Zoe: It’s total opportunistic moment really, she comes through the door and he comes out of the lift and she sees him go into an empty room and thinks, ‘Well it’s now or never really. This is going so badly that actually doing what I’m about to do can’t possibly make it any worse.’ So she goes in, he’s on his own and she shuts the door and locks it and says, ‘I want to hear you say it’.
Vanessa’s really screwed up, she feels like she’s screwed up as well after the way the defence lawyer was with her, so she’s just like, ‘Well to hell with it.’ She’s quite bold with him, considering what she’s been through and what’s going on – it could have been any other minute in that day and she wouldn’t have had the balls to go through with confronting him, but in just that moment, she just goes with her instincts.
If he’s found guilty, which means prison, will you be sad to leave Emmerdale, Jonathan?
Jonathan: Of course I would, yeah. This doesn’t have to be the denouement of this story – there are other interesting ways it could go. The side room totally knocks the wind out of Pierce’s sails because he’s never seen Rhona like that so he’s rather threatened by that and actually it breaks him down. He cracks and he confesses to her. He doesn’t say he’s sorry, it’s all he can do to sort of nod and say, ‘I did it, yeah’. And then they are all back in court and we wait to see if he comes clean or not. But he does break – she cracks him and it’s a great moment. They’re brilliant scenes.
Pierce will face trial for his wedding day rape on Rhona this week on Emmerdale but the verdict is a closely guarded secret.