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From Margaret Thatcher to Emily Maitlis: Gillian Anderson’s best onscreen transformations

Netflix viewers have praised Gillian Anderson’s likeness to broadcaster Emily Maitlis ahead of the release of Scoop, a new film about Prince Andrew’s “car-crash” Newsnight interview.

A new trailer for the movie shows recreated scenes from the 2019 interview featuring Prince Andrew (Dark City actor Rufus Sewell), and Emily Maitlis, (Sex Education star Anderson).

In 2019, the duke appeared on the BBC news programme to talk about the scandal surrounding his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The interview, conducted by British journalist Maitlis, was widely regarded as a PR disaster and Andrew was widely mocked following its transmission.

Scoop will dramatise how the BBC Two programme secured the interview and imagines the drama behind the scenes as it unfolded.

After Netflix released production images and the trailer for the film, viewers have praised the likeness between Anderson, 55, and Maitlis, 53.

One person shared a picture of Anderson as Maitlis on X/Twitter, writing: “Honest to god, I thought this was Emily Maitlis when I first saw it.”

‘Scoop’ imagines the behind the scenes drama before the interview was televised (PETER MOUNTAIN/NETFLIX)
‘Scoop’ imagines the behind the scenes drama before the interview was televised (PETER MOUNTAIN/NETFLIX)

Another shared their delight at the casting: “Gillian Anderson one of my favourite women playing another of my favourite women Emily Maitlis.”

The actor reportedly used no prosthetics for the transformation but relied on hair, makeup and body language techniques to portray Maitlis.

Anderson has long been praised for her onscreen transformations into different characters.

She played former prime minister Margaret Thatcher in the fourth season of The Crown, in which she mimicked the late politician’s voice.

Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher in ‘The Crown’ (Netflix)
Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher in ‘The Crown’ (Netflix)

On developing the voice, she told The Sun: “It’s quite easy to parody her voice, which makes it hard to identify with. It was about trying to find the balance, but at the same time understanding who she was and how she operated.”

She added that she would find a dark room to practise in: “When we were doing The Crown, I’d get a chair and put it in some dark, dusty corner or an abandoned room.”

At the time, Anderson was praised for her giving her own rendition on Thatcher. In The Independent’s four-star review of the series, Ed Power wrote: “Anderson is giving us her slant on Thatcher rather than the standard impersonation familiar from Spitting Image and generations of political cartoons.”

Anderson also played Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest-serving First Lady, in the 2022 series The First Lady, in which she wore a brown wig and false teeth.

She appeared in all 10 episodes of the first season of the series, with Kiefer Sutherland starring as her husband Franklin.

The series weaves the stories of three first ladies: Roosevelt, whose husband took office in 1933; Betty Ford, whose unelected husband assumed the presidency after Richard Nixon’s ignominious resignation in 1974; and Michelle Obama, who became America’s first Black first lady in 2009.

Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt in ‘The First Lady’ (Showtime)
Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt in ‘The First Lady’ (Showtime)

Ahead of Scoop’s release, Netflix has shared a series of photographs in which Anderson and Sewell are shown in conversation as they walk through a recreated Buckingham Palace, where the interview took place. In the trailer, Anderson, as Maitlis, says: “One interview can change everything.”

The actors all wear identical outfits to those worn by the duke and Maitlis on the day, with the second picture showing the pair facing each other as they discuss the duke’s links to Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, the socialite now serving time in prison for helping Epstein traffic underage girls.

Gillian Anderson as Emily Maitlis in  ‘Scoop’ (PETER MOUNTAIN/NETFLIX)
Gillian Anderson as Emily Maitlis in ‘Scoop’ (PETER MOUNTAIN/NETFLIX)

In the interview, Prince Andrew denied claims he had sex with 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.

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”.

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.

Scoop will be released on Netflix on 5 April.