How Rufus Sewell became Prince Andrew for Netflix's Scoop - his unrecognisable makeup transformation blew our minds

Here's what you need to know about Rufus Sewell's transformation into Prince Andrew for the new Netflix film about that famous interview

(Image credit: Netflix)

The highly anticipated release of Netflix’s film Scoop has finally arrived. The film tells the behind-the-scenes story of Prince Andrew’s infamous 2019 Newsnight interview starring a transformed Rufus Sewell as Prince Andrew.

Regarded as ‘the scoop of the decade’, Netflix's Scoop not only covers the interview in which Emily Maitlis questioned the Duke of York about his relationship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and the sexual abuse allegations he faced. But it is also an adaptation of former Newsnight interview booker Sam McAlister’s novel Scoops: Behind the Scenes of the BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews. The film tells the story from McAlister’s point of view, and it shows four women - McAlister, Esme Wren, Maitlis, and Amanda Thirsk - all central to the interview happening. Alongside Sewell as the prince, the film stars I Hate Suzie’s Billie Piper, Bodyguard actress Keeley Hawes, Atonement’s Romola Garai and Sex Education’s Gillian Anderson.

Netflix dramas are renowned for their attention to detail, and the transformation of actors for their roles is no exception. In January, Modern Family actress Sofia Vergara underwent a stunning transformation to portray Griselda Blanco. Similarly, Rufus Sewell’s portrayal of the Duke of York in Scoop has left fans curious about the extent of his transformation. Here’s everything we know about what he did to prepare for this role... 

Rufus Sewell as Prince Andrew in Scoop

(Image credit: Netflix)

How Did Rufus Sewell Transform Into Prince Andrew?

Eight years younger than the real Prince Andrew, the 56-year-old British actor wasn’t convinced he could be transformed into the Prince, but the makeup department spent up to four hours a day transforming him into the Prince using prosthetics and makeup.

Speaking to Digital Spy, the British actor said, “When we did the first makeup, it was about four hours. It was a very interesting thing watching slowly, layer by layer, bits of yourself recede and something else comes through. And they use bits of you, and bits of the other person, until it becomes a strange mix.” 

In the film’s production notes, Sewell noted that even his teeth were changed: “I had stuff around the eyes and the lower teeth did a lot. The upper teeth, which they made, were an exact copy of his - they looked so strange in my mouth.” He added that the makeup and prosthetics were so good that “it made me look so much like him that in some photographs, you could never tell.” 

Sewell noted that the only problem with the makeup was that “Unfortunately, though, I couldn’t really express with my eyes - I couldn’t blink without them sticking, and I couldn’t open them wide. So we made the decision to make me a little less like him, more like a strange fusion of the two of us.”

Netflix scoop

(Image credit: Netflix)

Per Huffington Post, the physicality of playing the Duke of York was one of the first things that attracted Sewell to the role. “Ever since I left drama school and did my first few roles, I’ve always wanted to get back to roles that allowed me to transform,” he said.

One of the key moments that has viewers talking is towards the end of the film when Prince Andrew watches his Newsnight interview back while naked in his bathroom. However, viewers will be happy to know that the bottom we see doesn’t belong to the actor but is a prosthetic used to emulate further that this is not Sewell but the Prince. Sewell even told Radio Times, “This bum was specially shipped in”.

How Did Rufus Sewell Mentally Prepare for Scoop?

In an interview with Netflix, Sewell said he decided to take the role after reading the script, which left him feeling like, ‘Yeah, I think I could do this.’ However, before he got too caught up in what he’d signed himself up for, the Middlemarch actor said, "To stop my mind from settling on all these disturbing thoughts, I decided just to get working on it. I started to watch the interview and realised how much work I had to do. Because although I could visualise and hear myself doing it, I couldn’t actually do it."

The actor said he studied the FBI body language experts’ analysis of the interview to understand why the Prince decided to be interviewed on Newsnight, specifically by Maitlis. Per The Times, he explained that the experts had concluded that the Duke of York was telling the truth a lot of the time. 

Rufus Sewell and Keeley Hawes in Scoop

(Image credit: Netflix)

In most of Sewell’s interviews, he discussed being obsessed with watching the Newsnight interview to prepare. He told Netflix that Andrew’s “performance reminded me of David Brent [from the UK version of The Office] more than anything else. That’s not to be ignored.” 

Sewell described the transformation into Prince Andrew as being at times, ‘painful’ when speaking to the Daily Express. He felt that Gillian Anderson was up to the challenge of playing Maitlis but he had to video himself acting as Prince Andrew before filming began to “break through the pain barrier.” Part of his difficulty came from not being a natural mimic, so finding it more challenging to capture the Prince’s mannerisms.

The British actor watched the interview while dressed up as Andrew so he could feel it through Andrew’s body and really become the royal. Nailing how Andrew acted and his mannerisms were critical to Sewell’s preparation. When speaking to The Telegraph, he said, "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."

Amanda Thirsk

(Image credit: Alamy)

The final part of his preparation was about making sure he could think from Andrew’s point of view rather than his own feelings about whether Andrew was guilty or not. 

When speaking to The Times, he said it was important to him to see things from the royal point of view, saying Andrew’s “wishes are caught up with all kinds of muddled ideas. One is that he believes he’s a victim of being too honourable. But he’s afraid of what the repercussions will be for other people. And he also feels that he has been set up. Watching him, it’s clear that he has very mixed up feelings of culpability and innocence and victimhood - and that is fascinating to play.”

Liv Facey
Contributing writer

Liv Facey is a freelance multimedia journalist and producer. She dabbles in entertainment, lifestyle, travel and news. She has bylines in a range of publications including The Times, Teen Vogue, Refinery29 and Mashable. When Liv’s not binging the latest TV series, she’s often travelling to new countries, reading or out purchasing new makeup products which she can’t seem to stop buying.