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Michael Sheen on ‘bringing humanity’ to Prince Andrew in A Very Royal Scandal

Michael Sheen has spoken about his decision to portray Prince Andrew in a new drama about the disgraced royal’s car-crash Newsnight interview.

A Very Royal Scandal, set to air on Prime Video, will see Sheen play the Duke of York opposite Ruth Wilson, who will star as the former Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis.

In 2019, Maitlis questioned Andrew about his ties to convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein as well as the nature of his relationship with Virginia Guiffre – one of Epstein’s victims, who accused Andrew of sexually abusing her when she was 17.

Andrew vehemently denied the allegations, eventually reaching an out-of-court, multi-million pound settlement with Guiffre.

In a new interview with The Sunday Times, Sheen, 55, said: “Inevitably you bring humanity to a character — that’s certainly what I try to do. I don’t want people to say, ‘It was Sheen who got everybody behind Andrew again.’ But I also don’t want to do a hatchet job.”

When asked what he is trying to do, he said: “Well, it is a story about privilege really. And how easy it is for privilege to exploit. We’ve found a way of keeping the ambiguity, because, legally, you can’t show stuff that you cannot prove, but whether guilty or not, his privilege is a major factor in whatever exploitation was going on.

“Beyond the specifics of Andrew and Epstein, no matter who you are, privilege has the potential to exploit someone. For Andrew, it’s: ‘This girl is being brought to me and I don’t really care where she comes from, or how old she is, this is just what happens for people like me.’”

Michael Sheen, Prince Andrew (Getty)
Michael Sheen, Prince Andrew (Getty)

Sheen has played many real-life people throughout his career, from Tony Blair in The Queen and David Frost in Frost/Nixon to Chris Tarrant in Quiz.

A Very Royal Scandal is expected to arrive on screens later this year. It is separate to the forthcoming Netflix film Scoop, which is also about the Newsnight interview and in which Rufus Sewell will portray Andrew.

Next, Sheen can be seen in The Way, a new BBC drama about a civil uprising that begins in the Welsh town of Port Talbot.