Hugh Grant tipped to play Prince Andrew in new film about BBC Newsnight interview

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The Guardian

Hugh Grant is reported to be among actors under consideration to play Prince Andrew in a new film dramatising his extraordinary interview on the BBC’s flagship current affairs show, Newsnight.

According to Deadline, Grant is “one of the unconfirmed names” being lined up for the film, titled Scoop, which will begin shooting in November.

The film is being written by Peter Moffat, whose previous credits include the Bryan Cranston series Your Honor and the 2004 film Hawking, which won acclaim for star Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Hawking.

It is adapted from Scoops: Behind the Scenes of the BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews, a nonfiction book which gives insider information on how some of the broadcaster’s keynote interviews came about.

Written by Sam McAlister, a former Newsnight producer, the book was optioned by producer Hilary Salmon shortly after it was announced (it is published on 14 July).

Asked by Deadline whether rumours around Grant’s involvement were accurate, Salmon said that when it came to casting, “we have, of course, thoughts” but added “no one is attached”.

The Guardian has approached Grant’s representatives for comment.

The Newsnight interview, broadcast in November 2019 and conducted by Emily Maitlis, was widely perceived to be a remarkable coup for the programme and an ill-advised move by the prince.

In the interview, he sought to clear himself of wrongdoing linked to his association with Jeffrey Epstein, who had been found dead in his jail cell three months before.

Maitlis examined the relationship between the royal and the convicted offender, as well as his associate Ghislaine Maxwell, who was sentenced to 20 years for sex trafficking in June.

The prince expressed regret in the interview about his continued association with Epstein after the financier’s 2008 admission of soliciting underage sex. But he said he did not regret the friendship itself as it led to connections which were “actually very useful”.

He also offered no apology to the victims of Epstein’s crimes and made a number of statements protesting his own innocence over claims made by Virginia Giuffre that she was forced to have sex with him when she was 17.

These included his denial that they had had sex in 2001 saying he had been at Pizza Express in Woking that evening, and that Giuffre’s claims about dancing with him at a club in London while he was sweaty were false as he had temporarily lost the ability to sweat after an “adrenaline overdose” during the Falklands war.

Prince Andrew has largely disappeared from public life since the interview.

Moffat told Deadline that Scoop is “about how the BBC’s Newsnight team got the scoop, then the actual filming of it”, adding: “The other thing is, why did he agree to do it?”

“How was it that he decided it was a good idea to do a great big long interview with Emily Maitlis on the BBC?” Moffat continued.

The film will show how McAlister and two female colleagues “made the interview happen under real stress and pressure because once it was agreed it happened in secret. Almost nobody inside the BBC could know about it for fear it would leak”.

After the interview had wrapped, Maitlis offered the prince the opportunity to return in front of the cameras for reshoots, but he refused, apparently feeling the interview had gone “extremely well”, said Salmon.

Recent roles for Grant include a wealthy doctor accused of murdering his young lover in The Undoing and Jeremy Thorpe, the Liberal party leader who allegedly hired a hitman to kill his former boyfriend in A Very English Scandal. He also played a deluded actor turned criminal in Paddington 2 and a nefarious private investigator in The Gentlemen.

Grant is an active critic of the tabloid and Murdoch press on Twitter. He recently called for protesters gathering outside Downing Street awaiting the resignation of Boris Johnson as prime minister to play the theme music from The Benny Hill Show.

Their efforts sabotaged a number of TV interviews in which Tory MPs attempted to downplay the farce of the situation.

July 14, 2022 at 06:21PM Catherine Shoard

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