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Gillian Anderson talks playing Emily Maitlis for Netflix

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Gillian Anderson talks playing Emily Maitlis for Netflix

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

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.

Gillian Anderson ponders the show and taking on her first still-living real-life ‘character’…

SCOOP: Gillian Anderson plays Emily Maitlis / Netflix

What story is told in Scoop?

Scoop is Sam McAlister’s [Billie Piper] story. She is one of the producers at Newsnight, or was, and it tells her experience in getting the famous Prince Andrew interview and her involvement in that. It’s also about the involvement of Newsnight and their negotiations with Buckingham Palace in terms of acquiring the interview, and what happened next.

For those who don’t know, who is Emily Maitlis, who you’re playing?

Emily Maitlis is a contemporary journalist who worked for Newsnight and the BBC for a long time. Since leaving the BBC she has worked on a very successful podcast [The News Agents] with Jon Sopel.

She is a real proper hack in the best sense of the word. She is formidable and intelligent and beautiful, and often does interviews while running in Hyde Park — she is kind of a super woman. Everybody around her sees her as a very fit, smart, capable journalist who also has children and a husband and a life.

SCOOP: Rufus Sewell plays Prince Andrew with Gillian Anderson as Emily Maitlis / Netflix

What drew you to this project?

The first thing that drew me to the project was the script. I’ve been a fan of Peter Moffat’s writing for a long time. Philip Martin was a director on The Crown. I didn’t have the chance to work with him on that but I’m a fan of his work.

I originally said no because it was too daunting, and Philip and Peter convinced me to say yes. But it was also that the film as much as anything celebrates the importance of independent journalism in society. I think it’s important that journalists have the opportunity to hold authority to account and to speak truth to power. This film celebrates that.

You’re playing a real-life person over a series of real-life events. How did you approach it?

It was the first time that I’ve played a real-life character who is still alive, and I have to say, it’s more daunting playing an Emily Maitlis than a Margaret Thatcher even. People know her so well, they listen to her daily, they watch her and have for years.

Also, this interview that the film is about is etched in people’s minds. It was an important moment obviously for the BBC but also a turning point, in a sense, for Buckingham Palace. And so everybody involved in the film wanted to get the interview right. In addition we wanted to create a drama and a story that is a thriller. We know that the interview happens, and yet in our film we don’t know from one minute to the next if they’re going to be able to air it or get the interview at all. Even though I was there, I acted in it, I read the script, I know what happened… in watching the film, I still found it thrilling.

SCOOP is streaming now on Netflix

SCOOP: Gillian Anderson plays Emily Maitlis / Netflix

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