A film based on the explosive TV interview with Prince Andrew, in which the Duke of York addressed his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and bizarrely claimed to be unable to sweat, is on the way.
The movie, Scoop, will tell the story of how producers at Newsnight, BBC’s current affairs program, secured and pulled off the 2019 interview.
The script for the upcoming film, which begins shooting in November, has been written by British screenwriter Peter Moffat. He told Deadline on Thursday (US time) that the behind-the-scenes negotiations ahead of the infamous interview would make for a “very thrilling drama”.
The movie will be adapted from the book Scoops: Behind the Scenes of the BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews by former Newsnight producer Sam McAlister.
There are whispers that British star Hugh Grant leads the shortlist to play the disgraced prince. But he was quick to scotch the rumours in a response to a since-deleted tweet by OK magazine.
“No I’m not. Never heard of it,” he wrote.
But when Deadline asked Scoop’s producer Hilary Salmon about casting rumours, she said only that “we have, of course, thoughts” but stressed, “no one is attached”.
In the Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis, Andrew sought to clear himself of wrongdoing over his friendship with Epstein, who had been found dead in his New York prison cell three months prior.
But the sit-down, widely regarded as a “car crash”, caused irrefutable damage to his and the British royal family’s reputation. Filmed in a opulent room at Buckingham Palace, its fallout led to the prince – the second and apparently favourite son of the Queen – effectively being pushed from public life.
The Duke of York, now 62, discussed his friendship with Epstein, and Epstein’s former lover Ghislaine Maxwell. She was sentenced to 20 years in jail in June for helping Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls.
Andrew also protested his innocence about claims made by Virginia Giuffre that she was forced to have sex with him when she was 17.
Earlier this year, the prince agreed to pay a multimillion-dollar settlement to Ms Giuffre in a civil suit she had filed in a Manhattan court relating to her claims. It acknowledged no wrongdoing on his behalf, although court documents said Andrew regretted his association with Epstein.
“I stayed with him and that’s … that’s … that’s the bit that … that … that, as it were, I kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that,” Andrew told Newsnight back in 2019.
Maitlis also famously asked the duke for his response to “very specific” allegations by Ms Giuffre. She alleged Andrew was “profusely sweating” when she met him in 2001 – when she dined with him, danced with him at a nightclub in London, and had sex with him at Maxwell’s house.
The prince said a “problem” with Ms Giuffre’s story because he had a medical condition meant he could not have been sweating.
“I didn’t sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenalin in the Falklands War when I was shot at and I simply … it was almost impossible for me to sweat,” he said.
He has repeatedly denied ever meeting Ms Giuffre.
Earlier this year, ahead of the Giuffre settlement, Andrew was stripped of his military titles and the right to use his HRH title in any official capacity. Buckingham Palace said that “with the Queen’s approval and agreement”, the Duke of York’s military affiliations and royal patronages had been returned to the monarch.
This week, Moffat told Deadline the upcoming film would be “about how the BBC’s Newsnight team got the scoop, then the actual filming of it”.
“The other thing is, why did he agree to do it?” he said.
“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 has worked on BBC dramas Criminal Justice, The Night Of, and Silk, as well as Your Honor, starring Bryan Cranston.