Gillian Anderson said she found it ‘scary’ to play Newsnight interviewer Emily Maitlis

The ‘X-Files’ star plays the journalist in a new Netflix film about Prince Andrew’s car-crash interview

Ellie Muir
Tuesday 19 March 2024 10:22 GMT
Scoop trailer

Gillian Anderson has said it was “scary” to play former BBC journalist Emily Maitlis in a new film about Prince Andrew’s car-crash Newsnight interview.

In a new interview, Anderson, 55, said she was so daunted to play Maitlis, 53, that she initially turned down the role in the new Netflix drama called Scoop.

“It was just too scary to play Emily Maitlis, because she’s still living, because she’s so formidable, because people know her so well,” the Sex Education star told the BBC.

She eventually realised that it might be a good challenge and that she should take the role.

“I thought I probably do have to do it because I’m so scared of it,” she said.

Prince Andrew appeared on the BBC news programme to talk about the scandal surrounding his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The interview, conducted by Maitlis, was widely regarded as a PR disaster and Andrew was widely mocked following its transmission.

In it, Prince Andrew denied claims he had sex with Virginia Giuffre, who would have been 17 at the time. He said he could not have had sex with Giuffre in London on 10 March 2001 as alleged, because he had taken his daughter to a birthday party at a Pizza Express chain restaurant in Woking, Surrey.

Gillian Anderson as Emily Maitlis in ‘Scoop’, alongside Maitlis during the Newsnight interview (Netflix / Channel 4)

Giuffre also claimed they attended Tramp nightclub together and recalled Prince Andrew being “sweaty” as they danced. But he said it could not have been him as he was unable to sweat at the time as a result of trauma caused by serving in the Falklands War.

Netflix’s Scoop is based on the book Scoops: Behind the Scenes of the BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews by former Newsnight producer Sam McAlister.

The film’s synopsis says it shows “the inside track of the women that broke through the Buckingham Palace establishment to secure the scoop of the decade”.

Gillian Anderson as Emily Maitlis in ‘Scoop’ (PA)

Scoop also stars I Hate Suzie’s Billie Piper as McAlister, Bodyguard actor Keeley Hawes as Prince Andrew’s former private secretary, and Atonement actor Romola Garai as Esme Wren, who led Newsnight at the time of the interview.

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Referring to Maitlis, Anderson said she thinks the journalist is “amazing”.

“I’ve since met her and behaved with her as if I knew her. As if we were best friends."

She said she bumped into Maitlis at a charity event at Bafta headquarters last year.

“The hilarious part of it was that I had come to this charity event not having prepared at all and was really dishevelled.

“And she showed up as Emily Maitlis, who looks like a movie star and was tanned, short white skirt and everything. I look like her great aunt in the pictures.”

Scoop will be released on Netflix on 5 April.

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