Rufus Sewell on playing Prince Andrew in ‘Scoop’: He ‘is a product of his environment’

This Friday, Netflix will release Scoop. Scoop is the behind-the-scenes story of how BBC’s Newsnight scored their big 2019 exclusive with Prince Andrew. Gillian Anderson plays Emily Maitlis, the steely BBC journalist who held her own against a floundering, smarmy, lying prince of the realm. Andrew is played by Rufus Sewell, and they really uglied up Sewell for this role. The British media can’t get enough of how scandalous this is going to be, meanwhile I haven’t seen much about Scoop in the American media. Andrew’s interview made global headlines at the time though, and I’m sure this film will draw international interest when it drops. The Telegraph did a lengthy piece on the film, with lots of quotes from Gillian Anderson and Sewell about how they approached their characters and what they thought of the real people (hint: Gillian is in awe of the real Maitlis while Sewell was trying hard to not make his version of Andrew as smarmy as the real one).

Sewell was reminded of Ricky Gervais in The Office while studying the interview: “Watching Andrew was like watching a comic masterpiece. He actually reminded me a lot of David Brent, but with a little less natural warmth. It was the way he was speaking past the interviewer, directly to the viewer; very aware of the effects he desired – little epiphanies he’d whipped up on his own, as fresh meat for the camera.”

Sewell on Andrew’s “guilt”: “I have strong feelings about whether he is guilty or not that I want to keep to myself, but it’s a very important part of the job to remind people that it’s human beings who do these things. I grew up in an era where Andrew was supposedly ‘the cool Royal’. I watched a lot of footage from when he was younger, talking to people in factories and offices and he was really – inarguably – charming.”

They really had to work hard to ugly up Rufus Sewell: Once filming began, the make-up team would spend up to four hours a day getting Sewell ready for the cameras. “They put on a bald cap, wispy hair over that and then attached bits to the nostrils, round the chin, the forehead and cheeks,” he says. “As my face receded, his came through.” At one point the resemblance became so strong that even friends of the actor failed to recognise him in photographs, and the producers decided to tone down the prosthetics since, as Sewell puts it, “if you go too far, you start to be watchable in the wrong way.”

Gillian Anderson on the unanswered questions: “It’s very much a thriller. It’s propulsive, despite the fact we know what the end result is.” Besides, Anderson points out, plenty of unanswered questions remain: not least, exactly why the late Queen’s middle son (and reputedly her favourite) ignored his mother’s edict – “never complain, never explain” – with consequences that one commentator would subsequently liken to “a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion.”

Gillian on Andrew’s narcissism: “We don’t know to what degree Andrew had rehearsed, or whether his answers were his own or fed to him. But somebody thought they were a good idea. He had the chance for the interview to go very, very differently. Even afterwards, he thought it was a success – to the point where Emily was given a tour around Buckingham Palace.” But, she adds, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Royal family “play a role that is very valuable to a lot of people in this country and part of that role includes being sequestered and not necessarily living in the real world. So why would we expect them to be able to respond in a real-world way?”

Sewell agrees that royal life is a sh-tshow: “Andrew is a product of his environment. To be what he believes himself to be demands the acquiescence of the subject. It’s clear he’s never sat opposite anyone who’s said, ‘Oh, that’s b——s’ or ‘F–k off!’ to him.” Returning to footage of the original interview, he says, “when you watch him, you see a strange mixture of guilt and innocence and victimhood. This is someone, in my opinion, who does not think of himself as a bad person and has an enormous amount of compassion and sympathy… for himself. He’s constructed a narrative in which he is in some way a victim of his own honour. The people who were sent out to defend him say the same thing: ‘He was set up.’ That is quite likely, given Epstein’s modus operandi. However, one can argue: if you’re setting up a honey trap, how do you know who likes honey and who doesn’t?

Gillian was scared of playing Maitlis: “It was even more daunting than playing Mrs Thatcher. I worried, ‘Will I be asking for trouble – not just embodying somebody who’s alive, but who’s such a formidable presence, with real fans and whom people have real opinions about?’”

Sewell thinks Andrew underestimated Maitlis because she is a woman: In the end, Sewell concludes, what brought Andrew down was a polite but steely woman refusing to defer to him. “He was congratulated and adored as a child for being a scamp, the lovable palace rascal, all those things boys are celebrated for – even more back then. He’s been led to believe it’s his natural charm that makes people like him, not his prince status. In this situation, sitting opposite Emily, he’s attempting to reignite that but he can’t get the oxygen to do it. It’s not a lack of manners, or rudeness or aggression on Emily’s part. She’s just not playing that half of the contract he expects – and he’s left gulping for air.”

[From The Telegraph]

I found Sewell’s quotes fascinating – he’s really studied the interview, not just for mannerisms but for motive, to really try to understand the layers of Andrew’s performance within the interview. As for the big mystery as to why Andrew did the interview… Epstein died in jail just four months before the interview, and there was so much renewed energy on Andrew’s association with Epstein. Like, I understand from a “crisis management” perspective why someone in the palace thought it would be a good idea for Andrew to go on the record to formally deny all of this stuff. What they didn’t count on was that Andrew’s answers didn’t make any sense, his denials came across as lies and the man has zero charisma on camera.

Photos courtesy of WENN, Netflix. Screencaps courtesy of the BBC.

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62 Responses to “Rufus Sewell on playing Prince Andrew in ‘Scoop’: He ‘is a product of his environment’”

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  1. HillaryIsAlwaysRight says:

    Rufus is such a handsome man. It’s rough seeing him turned into this creep. But yeah, I’ll be watching.

    • Roo says:

      He really is so handsome. And his comments about Andrew are scathing in that delightfully understated way of many Brits.

    • JanetDR says:

      I will love Rufus forever for Cold Comfort Farm! 💗

      • Lala11_7 says:

        @JanetDR …you & me BOTH❣️ & CCF NEVA shows on premium cable or accessible streaming…I guess I’ll have to get the old skool DVD! Sewell has the type of intellect & sensitivity that makes me…🥰

      • BeanieBean says:

        I loved that movie! I still remember where I saw it: in a movie theater in Waikiki (it’s now a Ross Dress for Less).

    • ML says:

      He often plays less-likeable characters, doesn’t he. This interview is something that absolutely interests me and I will be watching. I’m curious as to how they’re going to film the royal side of why to do this (we all know how that went), and the work behind setting this interview up. It really was a cultural moment that changed part of how normal people view royalty.
      Rufus Sewell also played King Charles II, and what that royal was able to get away with (before it went pear shaped on him!) is interesting:

    • Betsy says:

      He is very dishy and seeing him look like this is dispiriting.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      Yeah – he is such a hottie and they really did ugly him up for the role but he’s a very good character actor so I can see why he would have relished this role.

      I look forward to watching him and Gillian give a master class in acting.

    • SarahLee says:

      I adore Rufus Sewell, and he often plays that “charming scamp” that Andrew fancies himself to be. I think it is great casting. The only thing I see of Sewell in those photos is the eyes. Wow. I’m looking forward to this.

    • Deebs says:

      Long time fan of Sewell. If you haven’t seen Cold Comfort Farm I urge you to see it. Hilarious performance. A classic.

      I am really wondering if they gave Sewell Andrew’s gross and wonky teeth.

    • Flower says:

      I think somatically that layer of props and make-up is good for RS – as it allows him to distance himself mentally and physically from Prince Andrew.

      I also think the make up is very good.

    • Traveller says:

      I love Rufus Sewell.
      He was so good and incredibly handsome as Aurelio Zen in the series “Zen” based on Michael Dibdin’s books. I’ve watched it over and over – just wish they had produced more than 3 episodes.

      • Little Red says:

        Me, too!!! I was devastated when there were no more new episodes. He was so sexy in that show. It didn’t hurt that it was all happening in Rome.

      • Feeshalori says:

        I loved that very short series, and he also made a good appearance as a temperamental artist in ”The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

      • BeanieBean says:

        Oh, I forgot about that series! It was wonderful!

    • Snaggletooth says:

      My little high school friends and I saw Hamlet in theaters and I was THUNDERSTRUCK by his hotness. A life changing crush at 16 for sure lol.

    • Elizabeth says:

      It is truly disturbing seeing such a handsome man turned into THAT…

    • East Villager says:

      WOW I was just about to comment this! Not to objectify anyone, but Rufus Sewell is one hot POA. I didn’t even recognize him in the featured image of this post!

  2. Lizzie Bennett says:

    Had to look really closely to see Sewell through the make up. Shocking. Looking forward to seeing Scoop.

    • Agnes says:

      I watched a trailer, and whilst I love Sewell as an actor, I think he’s too intelligent to play Andrew, who truly is comically thick as a brick. On the other hand, that unquenchable intelligence brings a menace to the subject of the interview I hadn’t noticed when watching the original, I was too busy lmao. Can’t wait to view this. Gillian is the BEST choice to play Maitlis.

    • Eurydice says:

      I read somewhere that he had to wear a large prosthetic bum for a scene where Andrew gets out of the bath – like, what?

  3. L84Tea says:

    To this day I have never been able to bring myself to actually watch the Andrew interview. I simply can’t stomach the idea of it. This I might watch because it’s not actually him.

    • Jaded says:

      It will definitely give you major cringe, I had to watch bits of it through my hands covering my eyes, but I think it’s good to watch because his utter disengagement from committing an actual crime of rape of an underage, trafficked teenager is mind-boggling. Not an ounce of contrition, just constantly squirming away from any sense of conscience or remorse. He really did sink himself with that interview.

  4. seaflower says:

    The teddy bears on the bed!

  5. Steph says:

    I think Gillian hit on a really important point as to how KP bungled literally everything this year: they can’t read the room bc they’ve never been in it.

    Brits: what’s the b curse word in this piece?

    • Genevieve says:


    • Jane says:

      Bollocks, i.e. rubbish.

    • Becks1 says:

      I thought that was really well put.

      These people (the royals)… not lead normal lives, and are not surrounded by normal people. Like Sewell said, has anyone ever told Andrew that he was wrong, told him to eff off? We see this entitlement play out with William today but it has to be the same or stronger with Andrew, who spent the first 62 years of his life with his mother as the Queen. and until he was 22, he was the second in line to the throne.

      the sense of entitlement with all these royals is huge.

      I also really liked the line about knowing who likes honey and who doesn’t.

      • Eurydice says:

        The lines that really struck me are – “This is someone, in my opinion, who does not think of himself as a bad person and has an enormous amount of compassion and sympathy… for himself. He’s constructed a narrative in which he is in some way a victim of his own honour.” This is a clear definition of a narcissist – a mixture of grandiose, contempt for others and a victim of others’ stupidity.

      • Becks1 says:

        Yes I thought that was a great line too, and it really does apply to all the royals. William will never apologize to Harry because William does not think he did anything wrong. He has constructed this narrative in which he is the perpetual victim of Harry’s attacks.

  6. Soni says:

    I’ve had the biggest crush on Rufus ever since he was in Cold Comfort Farm (great movie!). He’s had such an eclectic career and I can’t wait to see what he does with this role.

  7. MaryContrary says:

    I was in a cafe last summer in London and Rufus Sewell walked by-I almost had a heart attack. The waitress said he comes in frequently and is very nice. I cannot wait to watch this. I grew up in the era where Andrew was considered a heartthrob-it’s hard to believe now.

    • ncboudicca says:

      I was working in Wilmington, NC about decade ago and saw him strolling on a downtown sidewalk. I think he was there to film the Devil’s Hand? I shrieked, which he luckily did not hear because I was in a passing car at the time.

      I did not know that was him under that Pedrew makeup until I read this article! They definitely had to ugly him up.

    • Brassy Rebel says:

      @Marycontrary: Following the Falklands War, he became “Randy Andy” with so many girlfriends. Now, Randy Andy has taken on a whole new meaning.

  8. Kateee says:

    Please include a normal Rufus photo palate cleanser. They did too good a job Andrew-ing him up!

    • Feeshalori says:

      Just google his images for refreshing pictures of him. That’ll cleanse the palate.

  9. Christine says:

    Same, I relied 100% on Kaiser’s reporting. I will definitely watch this.

    ETA: This was meant as a reply to L84TEA

  10. Plums says:

    that uglied up Rufus Sewell is giving such creepy, uncanny valley vibes. It’s like they can’t disguise his eyes, which are one of his most striking, distinct features, but they are so different from Andrew’s eyes, so it’s an exact recreation of a moment in very fresh, recent cultural memory where they’ve done an amazing job with makeup to make him look exactly like that person, but it’s Andrew with Rufus Sewell’s eyes. It really is the most disturbing shit, lol.

  11. Eleonor says:

    I didn’t want to watch this, but they both make sooo valid points, I had to change my mind!

  12. Jennamaroney says:

    I was scrolling past, saw the headline, and was like good luck turning Rufus into Andrew, and only after did I realize that I didn’t even question that it wasn’t Andrew in the image. Good job, hmu team!!!

  13. Brassy Rebel says:

    Not knowing anything about Rufus Sewell, I just googled to see if he looks anything like Andrew. And I gotta admit that’s a helluva make-up job.

    • Saucy&Sassy says:

      Brassy Rebel, I just looked and I was like, “OMG, I know him”–I’ve watched him in movies or TV or wherever. I would NEVER have considered this was the same man by looking at the pictures above.

  14. Schrodinger's Kate says:

    The makeup artist and their team deserve all the awards. Goodness what a transformation! Though I must say in the freeze frame he looks a bit like the wayward uncanny valley lovechild of Prince Andrew and Mike Pence. Still, well done! I definitely know who he’s supposed to be. I’m sure when the actor is seen actually acting, the transformation will be complete.

  15. Shawna says:

    I’d love to hear from the Beatrice actress. Bea’s part in this is astonishing, really. Being there for the negotiations, probably helping him prepare…just bananas.

    Great quotes from Sewell and Anderson. Can’t wait to see this.

  16. ClaireLacombe says:

    Up until a few months ago, I would have absolutely refused to believe that Andrew was in any way coached by communications advisors or the like. Because what kind of professional would have come up with answers like “I don’t sweat ever since my ship was bombed in the Falklands” and “I clearly remember taking my daughter to a Pizza Express on that day, so I couldn’t possibly have sexually assaulted a teenage girl that day”? But after the KP shitshow these past few months, I can see how a combination of awful advisors, royal arrogance and misogyny/classism could lead to that car crash interview

  17. Gil says:

    My congratulations to the makeup team. They were able to make a really hot looking man look like garbage. I think they really captured Prince Andrew smarmy nature. Yikes

  18. sevenblue says:

    The real interview was like an award-winning play. I couldn’t believe my eyes, ears while watching it. It might be the first interview I rewatched immediately after finishing. It was bizarre, strange, the british version of a Greek tragedy. The lack of thought about the Epstein victims showed his true self. I believe, this interview had to happen because Andrew was the royal patron of some important initiatives and he was getting pressure from them to clear his name or else. After the interview, all of them dropped him like a hot patoto.

  19. TIFFANY says:

    Leave it to Andrew being flattered that he is being portrayed by Rufus. That is how much of a dingbat he is.

    Gillian is absolutely right about them reading the room.

  20. WiththeAmerican says:

    I keep seeing how Andrew ran his fingers down his daughter’s bum in front of the world, culling his fingers under her bum.

    This man is beyond clueless. And guilty. Even if he was set up, no one made him have sex with underage trafficked girls.

  21. Jen says:

    Give that makeup artist all the awards. It takes skill to ugly up Rufus Sewell. I always thought he looked like an earthy, rugged version of Jude Law.

  22. Renee' says:

    I too cannot to watch this. I think Gillian and Rufus will hit it out of the park.

  23. NessaB says:

    Well, I’ve never seen Cold Comfort Farm but I’ve always had a crush on him since Dangerous Beauty. Off to watch CCF RIGHT NOW!

    • Aurora says:

      I discovered him in Dangerous Beauty, too. Which is imo a horrid movie, only salvatged by Venice scenery and RS’s handsome self.
      I also watched him in The Man in the High Castle, and had to remind myself all too often that he was a HOT f*ck’n HOT n4zi. He was also the reason why I dragged myself through the whole series, which is disappointed by a main actress who can’t act her way to her bedroom door.
      And let’s just not talk about The Diplomat finale…

    • phlyfiremama says:

      Dangerous Beauty was so sumptuous~they used a lot of costumes from other period piece movies. I would have been a Courtesan, too, back in the day. These women were highly educated and entertaining, it wasn’t just the sex: that could have been has from any prostitute. The Courtesans had a freedom like few strata of women in any time frame (including our own, depressingly).

  24. Penny says:

    Rufus Sewell can do no wrong!! He is pitch perfect in every role he’s ever played.

  25. QuiteContrary says:

    I love that they included the teddy bears on the bed — such a ridiculous aspect of a ridiculous and vile man-child’s personality.

    I cannot wait to watch this.

    And this analysis from Sewell was searing and true: “Andrew is a product of his environment. To be what he believes himself to be demands the acquiescence of the subject. It’s clear he’s never sat opposite anyone who’s said, ‘Oh, that’s b——s’ or ‘F–k off!’ to him.’ ”

  26. Abigail says:

    Isn’t everyone?? It’s no excuse.