The star of new musical Heathers says she was body-shamed online after being announced for the role.

Carrie Hope Fletcher plays Veronica Sawyer – originally played by Winona Ryder in the 1988 film – in the West End show, opening on Friday.

Speaking to BBC News, Fletcher says the comments “hit [her] quite hard” and made her reconsider whether she should take on the role.

“I didn’t deal with it very well for a while,” the 25-year-old actress admits.

The dark satire, which also originally starred Christian Slater and Shannen Doherty, became a cult film after its release, because of the atypical way it dealt with teenage issues.

It garnered a large following, which 30 years later, appears not to have diminished.

“Nothing could have prepared us for doing this show,” says Fletcher. “It’s not a musical theatre show, it’s a rock concert,” she adds, referring to the hundreds of teenagers who have flocked to the musical during its previews.

Media captionThe 80s teen classic about teenage sex and suicide that’s been given a modern makeover.
“People screamed as soon as the first line of the show was said: ‘September 1st 1989. Dear Diary…’ I didn’t know what was happening, I thought, ‘Oh my God has something happened behind me..?’

“People are laughing before the jokes are said because they know what’s coming, they’ve learnt all the songs – there was a girl who came to see us a week into the run, who already knew all the moves to the song Candy Store. She was doing it in her seat – it was insane.”

But it’s this level of fandom which prompted strong reactions to the casting of the show.

“Lots of comments were made about my shape and size by fans of the show – anyone who feels like they have an ownership over Veronica,” Fletcher recalls.

“Someone said, for example, ‘When did they decide Veronica Sawyer would be so fat and unattractive?’ That was one that hit me quite hard. I was on holiday with my family and I decided for the next few days I was just going to turn everything off because I was getting really upset.

“The thought did cross my mind about whether or not I should do the show, but never really seriously. I was never going to let that ruin the best job that I’ve ever done in my life – and I knew it would be – so I was never going to let negativity like that ruin anything for me.”