Entertainment

Rufus Sewell on showing ‘light and dark’ when playing Andrew in Newsnight drama

The Holiday actor stars alongside Gillian Anderson, who plays journalist Emily Maitlis in the new Netflix series Scoop.

Rufus Sewell as the Duke of York in new Netflix drama Scoop
Rufus Sewell as the Duke of York in new Netflix drama Scoop (Peter Mountain/Netflix/PA)

Rufus Sewell has said he wanted to show the “light and dark” when portraying the Duke of York in a forthcoming drama based on his explosive Newsnight interview.

The Holiday actor stars alongside Gillian Anderson, who plays journalist Emily Maitlis in the new Netflix series Scoop.

The series, which premieres on April 5, documents the “high-stakes negotiations with Buckingham Palace” through to the BBC’s headline-making interview with Andrew about his relationship with paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Discussing on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday whether he feels “any pity” for the duke, Sewell said: “It’s one of the reasons I was so hesitant about taking it (the role) – because I don’t want to be jumping on some bandwagon.

“I think it’s so important to remember whatever someone is going through, that, however high up or low down they are, these are humans and that people are a product of their circumstance.

“For me, one of the concerns was wanting to do a truthful representation of him, which included him at his best as well as his worst, because people are a mixed bag.

“When I watched the interview, I was always very conscious of watching footage of him when he was younger or even in more recent times when he was with people…

“When you watch him in this film, people in his camp say ‘He’s great with people’ and you can see evidence that that’s true.

“I think my responsibility to the film, and any human that you’re playing, is to show the light and dark, and we all have both.”

Following the Newsnight broadcast in November 2019 and the furore over Andrew’s friendship with Epstein, the duke stepped down from public life.

A trailer of the new series shows the moment the interview took place as well as the aftermath.

Reflecting on the duke reportedly telling Maitlis that he felt the interview “went rather well”, Sewell noted that he feels Andrew would not have been used to people “not kowtowing to him”.

He said: “When I say that people are a product of their surroundings and their upbringing, this is someone who people have not been able to tell him the truth in the way that we might be used to from a time when he was very young, and it’s very easy to think that you’re better at things than you are, because the idea of yourself is very much bound in how people are with you.

“And what he found himself in was a situation where someone was not kowtowing to him.

“Emily Maitlis was not being rude but she was treating him like any other person and what he thought was his personal magic, in that moment, failed him.

“You can see him gasping for air at some points and I don’t think that part of it is his fault, he is a product of his environment.

“And it is possible for guilt to be mixed with a sense of victimisation and I think it’s easy for people to go through things and be guilty for something and end up feeling like a victim.”

The actor also said he was “flattered” to be offered the role but admitted he did hesitate over accepting it due to the status of the character.

To ensure he was prepared to take on the part, he said he “obsessively” watched the infamous interview to try to understand Andrew’s “reasoning and justification” for his answers.

– Scoop will launch on Netflix on April 5.