Rufus Sewell, Gillian Anderson on Starring in Netflix Prince Andrew Film ‘Scoop’: “It’s Quite a Responsibility”

Rufus Sewell had “an instinct” about how to portray Prince Andrew in global streaming giant Netflix’s feature film Scoop, but he and co-star Gillian Anderson both initially didn’t want to play their respective parts, they shared on Thursday.

Sewell and Billie Piper talked about their filming experience at the Next on Netflix event at the Picturehouse Central cinema and cultural space in the British capital, while Anderson shared some thoughts in a video message. The preview event featured casting and content announcements and put the spotlight on various Netflix executives and stars.

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Anderson plays former BBC Newsnight host Emily Maitlis in the film, which provides a behind-the-scenes look into the November 2019 Newsnight interview with Prince Andrew about his ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Piper is the program’s producer Sam McAlister.

“There are some unsung heroes in this story that need some recognition,” Piper told the crowd at the Netflix event, highlighting the female BBC journalists. The actress also shared how she got into the role thanks to McAlister. “We spoke shortly after I read the script. We met,” she recalled. “We had martinis. I’ve never had one before. That was fun.”

After laughter from the audience, Piper continued. “And then we spoke a number of times afterwards, and I’d asked her to send me videos of her walking, sitting” and the like. “She was very much involved in the chats we had in the beginning of the rehearsal period,” she concluded. “We had great access to what.”

The actress came away with one big question: “How did this happen? How did anyone sign off on this?”

Anderson called the chance to play Maitlis, a “privilege but also incredibly daunting.” After all, “we all know Emily and love Emily. And we see her all the time. We hear her in our ears and in podcasts, and she is a formidable character, a formidable journalist, and an incredibly impressive woman. So when I was first asked to play her, I said, ‘Absolutely not. No way. It’s too hard. She’s too amazing. And everybody knows her too well, and so I will undoubtedly fail.'” But in the end, the star said, the creative team convinced her to say yes.

Sewell also didn’t immediately agree to play the part of the royal. “I actually didn’t say yes until I’d worked on my own for a while,” he shared. “I had an instinct about” the person and “felt that there was something that I could bring to him, but I’m not someone who has a natural gift of mimicry,” he shared. “I have a good ear. I’ve always been good with accents. But there are certain really great actors who just have that preternatural ability to just do it. I can’t. I have to come up with a different way. So I said yes, because of an instinct.”

What was his process? “I just obsessed with watching the interview and watching him,” even from older footage. “I would put on clothes” to get inside Prince Andrew, joking that it was sometimes embarrassing when people would catch him doing so. “I watched a lot of footage of him when he was younger and at his best because one of the temptations is to avoid anything that seems to show him in a good light. It’s quite a responsibility.”

Sewell said he saw footage of the royal “being quite funny and amusing,” which marked a contrast to “seeing him in an environment where part of that contract is not honored” in terms of “what he believes are his natural-born gifts as a person that are in fact entirely reliant on people giving him the status of prince, and you withdraw that, and he can’t get his oxygen in the same way. It was really fascinating.”

The actor also shared that on the first two days of production, the team shot the interview scenes. “We filmed the interview for two days on a loop, that was our way of starting,” he said. “That was the first encounter I’d had with [Anderson] in character.”

Scoop debuts on Netflix on April 5.

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