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Rufus Sewell on playing Prince Andrew in SCOOP


Rufus Sewell on playing Prince Andrew in SCOOP

The drama on the real events behind the scenes at Newsnight began streaming today…

SCOOP is the inside account of the tenacious journalism that landed an earth shattering interview – Prince Andrew – played by Rufus Sewell – and his infamous BBC Newsnight appearance.

From the tension of producer Sam McAlister – played by Billie Piper –  and her high stakes negotiations with Buckingham Palace, all the way to Emily Maitlis – played by Gillian Anderson – and her jaw dropping, forensic showdown with the Prince, SCOOP takes us inside the story, with the women who would stop at nothing to get it. To get an interview this big, you have to be bold.

Rufus Sewell talks about playing Prince Andrew.

Why did you take this role?

I watched the interview myself and had a very similar reaction to a lot of people. I found it unbelievable, in many ways. And then when I read the script, my immediate feeling was, ‘Yeah, I think I could do this.’ It felt like a chance just to do something that I really responded to. And then I said yes… and then there was a period when I thought, ‘Jesus Christ, what have I done!’ To stop my mind from settling on all these disturbing thoughts I decided just to get working on it. I started to watch the interview, and realised how much work I had to do. Because although I could visualise and hear myself doing it, I couldn’t actually do it…

How did you prepare?

I don’t have a natural gift as a mimic, as some people do, so I had a lot of work to do. I was working for hours and hours just obsessing on this interview and what I thought was going on behind what he was doing – all those attempts to re-describe and distract and attempt to tell the truth and attempt to evade. And also, to somehow find a line where I got the humour of it as I saw it, right. Watching the interview is to me a horrible thing but his performance reminded me of David Brent [from the UK version of The Office] more than anything else. That’s not to be ignored.

How were you transformed in order to look like Prince Andrew?

I do think that in some ways you didn’t have to do too much to me to make me look like him. I had a little bit everywhere but all over my face. The first time we did it it took about four hours. I had stuff around the eyes and the lower teeth did a lot. The upper teeth, which they made, were an exact copy of his — they looked so strange in my mouth.

When it came to the prosthetics, it was really useful to have that stuff put on me slowly, and just watch him begin to emerge and be received and somehow meet in the middle. At one point, for example, the most I ever looked like him was in a couple of the early tests, when they put in these lids that went over my eyes. That really sold it. It made me look so much like him that in some photographs, you could never tell. Unfortunately, though, I couldn’t really express with my eyes — I couldn’t blink without them sticking, and I couldn’t open them wide. So we made the decision to make me a little less like him; more like a strange fusion of the two of us. It meant I could just be watchable and present which I think is worth it. Similarly with the voice and the walk and gestures — with certain things you can go so far, and then it actually starts getting your attention in the wrong way.

How was it filming the interview scene itself?

It was the first thing I filmed. For two days Gillian [Anderson] and I just did it on a loop without any rehearsal. It was like being in this strange, weird, not entirely pleasant bubble for a couple of days where no one would call cut. We just went from start to finish over and over again. I would go back and watch the original, drill down on specific things that I was trying to catch, but in the end the thing that will tell the most is your presence or lack of presence in the moment. That means so much more than ticking boxes about who did exactly what, when.

SCOOP is streaming now on Netflix

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