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How the cast of 'Scoop' compares to the real people, including Rufus Sewell as Prince Andrew

The Netflix movie chronicles the real story of Prince Andrew's 2019 interview with BBC about his ties to Jeffrey Epstein.
/ Source: TODAY

“Scoop” is digging into how Prince Andrew’s controversial 2019 BBC interview came to be. 

The Netflix movie, out April 5, is inspired by how the Duke of York’s headline-making interview in November 2019, which touched on his connection to accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, came to be.

Epstein, who was being held on federal sex trafficking charges in a Manhattan jail, died by suicide in August 2019. The former financier faced up to 45 years in prison after an indictment indicated he sexually abused and trafficked dozens of girls as young as 14 at his New York and Florida homes.

Based on producer Sam McAlister’s book “Scoops: Behind the Scenes of the BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews,” the movie shows how McAlister secured the interview, negotiating with Buckingham Palace to have Andrew sit down with journalist Emily Maitlis on BBC Newsnight in November 2019.

Peter Mountain / Netflix

What happened during the intimate one-hour special was a jaw dropping, earth-shattering interview, which McAlister called the “scoop of all scoops.”

Four days after the controversial conversation, the Duke of York stepped back from royal duties.

Prince Andrew’s friendship [How does Andrew describe their relationship? Does he acknowledge it was a friendship? If not, let’s say “relationship” or put in what he called it] with Epstein was put under a microscope and only intensified after his BBC interview. 

Below, see the cast and the real-life figures they portray in the film.

Gillian Anderson as Emily Maitlis

Emily Maitlis
Gillian Anderson as Emily Maitlis and Emily Maitlis on 'Good Morning Britain' TV show, London, Nov 5, 2019.Netflix, Shutterstock

Award-winning British journalist Emily Maitlis is also a documentary filmmaker and a former BBC newsreader, who interviewed Prince Andrew in the Newsnight special.

She left Newsnight in 2022 to launch her own podcast “The News Agents” on LBC Radio.

Gillian Anderson initially turned down the role of Maitlis. During her April 3 interview with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie, the actor said that because Maitlis is a household name in the U.K. and “a formidable journalist and woman,” she had her reservations.

“The idea of playing somebody who was so familiar and so alive felt incredibly daunting,” Anderson said.

The actor did not work closely with the real Maitlis, but did run into her at an event. “We were mid-shooting so I went in incredibly familiar (about her),” she said. “I must have come across as a freak.”

Rufus Sewell as Prince Andrew

Prince Andrew
Rufus Sewell as Prince Andrew Prince Andrew, Duke of York attends the QIPCO King George Weekend at Ascot Racecourse on July 27, 2019 in Ascot, England. Netflix, Getty Images

Born Feb. 19, 1960, Prince Andrew is the third child of the late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. He was previously married to Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and they share daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. 

In December 2010, he was photographed with Epstein in Central Park in New York City. The royal had stayed with Epstein a year and half after the disgraced businessman served 13 months in jail after pleading guilty to state changes of procuring a person under 18 for prostitution and felony solicitation of prostitution.

In a 2015 civil lawsuit against Epstein’s former girlfriend and confidant, Ghislaine Maxwell, Virginia Roberts Giuffre said that she was forced to have sex with Andrew in 2001 when she was 17. The lawsuit was settled out of court.

Buckingham Palace, in 2015, “emphatically” denied that the Duke of York had “any form of sexual contact or relationship” with Virginia Roberts, per the BBC. “The allegations made are false and without any foundation,” the statement continued.

In his 2019 interview with Maitlis, Prince Andrew denied that he ever saw Epstein with underage girls. He also denied being involved with any underage girls.

He did, however, say he flew on Epstein’s private plane and visited his private island and homes.

Maitlis also asked Andrew about a photo showing him with a young Giuffre at Maxwell’s house.

Virginia Giuffre with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell at Prince Andrew's London home in a photo released with court documents.
Virginia Giuffre with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell at Prince Andrew's London home in a photo released with court documents.

“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” he said. “I’m at a loss to explain this particular photograph.”

In 2021, Giuffre sued the royal in federal court for alleged sex abuse. They reached a settlement in 2022, the lawsuit was dismissed, Andrew was not charged with any crime. Andrew donated to Giuffre’s charity, per a letter released along with news they had reached a settlement.

Actor Rufus Sewell disappears in the role of Andrew. Unrecognizable, he told The Telegraph that he studied the royal’s mannerisms for the role.

“Andrew actually has this blokey quality alongside the Windsor clenched-jaw thing. If you listen to him, as opposed to King Charles, he has a lad’s lad quality,” Sewell said, adding, “He’s Randy Andy who chats up the working girls when he visits the factory.”

Billie Piper as Sam McAlister

Billie Piper as Sam McAlister
Billie Piper as Sam McAlister Netflix, Getty Images

Sam McAlister is a former BBC producer who secured the infamous interview with Andrew in late 2019. She also wrote the book which the Netflix film is based on. McAlister left the BBC in 2021 and is now a senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics where she teaches negotiation.

In an April 3 interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” actor Billie Piper called McAlister an “unsung hero” and that they met before filming.

“She’s such a force of nature,” she said. “She was so integral. As an actor it was a gift and we spent a great deal of time together. I was studying her, but it was less pressure for me because she wasn't as public facing.”

Keeley Hawes as Amanda Thirsk

Amanda Thirsk
File photo dated 20/05/19 of the Duke of York's private secretary Amanda Thirsk at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London. Netflix, AP

Amanda Thirsk was Andrew's former private secretary and top aide. She was the one that worked with McAlister to secure the Newsnight interview. She left her position in 2020.

In the film, she is the one who convinces Andrew to do the interview and share his side of the story.

Connor Swindells as Jae Donnelly

Connor Swindells as Jae Donnelly in "Scoop."
Connor Swindells as Jae Donnelly in "Scoop." Netflix, YouTube

Jae Donnelly was the photographer who took the photo of Prince Andrew and Epstein walking together in Central Park in New York on Dec. 5, 2010.

“Without that photo they would have the chance to deny any knowledge of knowing each other,” Donnelly told Vanity Fair. “And that photo, for them, sadly exists.”

The New York–based British photographer is seen in “Scoop” waiting outside Epstein’s Manhattan apartment and waiting for a Prince Andrew sighting. Shortly before snapping the photo of Andrew and Epstein, Donnelly captured images of a girl coming out of the Manhattan apartment. Later on in the film, Donnelly tells McAlister that he has taken photos of various girls, ranging in ages, leaving Epstein's home.

Romola Garai as Esme Wren

Romola Garai as Esme Wren
Romola Garai as Esme Wren Esme Wren will take over as the editor of BBC NewsnightNetflix, BBC

Esme Wren was a BBC Newsnight editor and involved in the production of the controversial interview. She left her position in 2021. Previously, she was also head of politics and business at Sky News and is currently a Channel 4 News editor.

In the film, she helps Anderson's Maitlis prepare for her big interview. She is in the studio watching the interview as it's happening.

Actor Romola Garai told The Guardian in January 2024 that she’s often “a bit suspicious” of true crime and adaptations of events that happened recently.

“I’m very wary of voyeurism,” Garai said. “But I felt when I read the script that Andrew and that story seem to have slightly gone away. So I was very interested in being part of something that put it back on the table. Essentially, at the centre of it, there’s this man who thinks he’s untouchable and it’s about journalists doing their job to dismantle this power structure, rather than propping it up.”