Claire Foy & Paul Bettany Interview: A Very British Scandal.

A Very British Scandal stars Claire Foy & Paul Bettany chat about taking on intense scenes in their new miniseries, now streaming on Prime Video.

Years after Hugh Grant shocked and delighted audiences as Jeremy Thorpe in A Very English Scandal, BBC came back with an even messier story in A Very British Scandal. Originally airing in the UK last year, the subject matter this time around is the high-profile divorce proceedings of Margaret (Claire Foy, The Crown) and Ian Campbell (Paul Bettany, WandaVision), 11th Duke of Argyll.

The series consists of 3 one-hour episodes, all of which are now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. Fans who enjoy the more salacious side of British history will want to dive in as soon as possible and soak in all the gory details, as well as Bettany and Foy’s powerful performances and intensely fiery chemistry.

Bettany and Foy spoke to Screen Rant about the hidden aspects of their characters, and the rush of going all in on scenes that can be described in no other terms but “chilling.”

Screen Rant: Claire, just digging into the story, what was the most surprising thing that you discovered about Margaret?

Claire Foy: I didn’t know anything about her as a person, which is amazing because she was so famous. To discover someone who was that famous, in that generation, I suppose. That’s interesting, isn’t it? But at the time, she was so famous. She’s in a song, that’s how famous she was. So, I loved it. I loved getting to know her.

I think she was a really fascinating out-of-the-ordinary person for that period of time; just sort of lived out of her time, really. And the more firsthand accounts that you heard, as well as stories of her, were extraordinary – none of which are in the show, unfortunately. She was an extraordinary woman, so it was really amazing to learn about her and also to see inside another world that’s so different to your own. I love it. I love looking behind closed doors of people’s lives. It’s the best thing about the job.

Paul, what was it like to go from someone that was so wholesome, like Vision, to someone I quite frankly would love to punch in the face?

Paul Bettany: [laughs] That’s my wheelhouse! It was fantastic. It was a palate cleanser. It was nice counterprogramming for me. When I started acting, I made a movie that was called Gangsta No 1. I couldn’t ever get another audition for anything other than playing gangsters, and I refused to do it. And then I ended up playing good guys for a long run. So, it was nice to go back and be mean again.

Claire Foy: Yeah, he’s got it in him. Got a range [laughs]. Good and bad, nothing in between!

What was the most surprising thing about working with one another? Because these scenes can be intense, and then you step off set.

Paul Bettany: The first thing I knew about the project was that Claire Foy was attached. I was really excited, because I think she’s an extraordinary actor. I wasn’t surprised, actually. I was heartened that we had a lot of scenes where you could do exactly what it says on the package and deliver the scene just as written, and Claire had a real instinct to bat against those things.

I mean, there’s a scene where I’m sick in bed, where I kind of suggest shooting her through the face. It’s chilling. But what makes it all the more chilling is the fact that she is involved in a game with him, too. It’s almost playful, and that’s actually more disturbing; it made the scene more disturbing.

A Very British Scandal Synopsis

Famed for her charisma, beauty, and style, Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, dominated the front pages as the divorce exposed accusations of forgery, theft, violence, drug-taking, bribery, and an explicit Polaroid picture that was to haunt her for the rest of her life.

A Very British Scandal turns this scandal inside out in order to explore the social and political climate of post-war Britain, looking at attitudes towards women, and asking whether institutional misogyny was widespread at the time. As her contemporaries, the press, and the judiciary sought to vilify her, Margaret kept her head held high with bravery and resilience, refusing to go quietly as she was betrayed by her friends and publicly shamed by a society that reveled in her fall from grace.


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