Anatomy of a Scandal Cast on the Netflix Series, Know the Ending
David E. Kelley knows how to craft compelling courtroom drama, and in Netflix’s “Anatomy of a Scandal,” which released Friday, he and fellow creator Melissa James Gibson put together a dark and meandering involving political figures, criminal charges, and the unique traditions of the justice system across the pond.
Starring Sienna Miller, Michelle Dockery, Rupert Friend and Naomi Scott, the series follows the lives of Sophie (Miller) and James (Friend) after he, a British politician and upper class member, was accused by a former colleague with whom he had an extramarital affair, Olivia (Scott), of sexual assault. Dockery plays Kate Woodcroft, a QC (Queen’s Counsel) barrister suing James.
Much like “Big Little Lies,” Kelley’s latest series (which is based on Sarah Vaughan’s novel) is complex and full of twists and turns. And all of the actors had a full set of scripts before they filmed the show, so they knew in advance exactly where things were headed.
“We were all given the six scripts to start with so we got to see the whole story and we read, some of us, well, most of us by the sounds of it all read the book so that we have some kind of source where the story came from,” Dockery told TheWrap. “I’m a really big fan of David E. Kelley so I was really excited when I got this screenplay and… these stories that he does, he does such a good job of executing them.
“These stories of these seemingly perfect lives exploding into chaos are truly entertaining,” she continued. “I think people really like to see that. There seems to be some sort of trend for that. And of course, the series tackles some really, really tough issues. And I think it’s entertaining, but it’s also very informative and potentially conversational. And so, to be part of something like that, all the ingredients were really there for me, it was a no-brainer to come on board.
For Friend, who plays politician James, he “just inhaled” the scripts when he got them because they were “addictive in the way” the cast hopes the show will be for audiences. He wasn’t sure he wanted to play James, someone from a rights world, however, for six months out of the year. But Friend realized that the way the character perceived the world would create an acting challenge.
“And of course, at the end of the day, a hard thing to do is probably a good thing to do because the challenge is quite enjoyable,” he said.
Much of the drama in the six-episode series takes place in a British courtroom, featuring Dockery in those curly white wigs and long black graduation-style dresses, Friend and Scott having to stand up to testify to a witness pulpit, and Miller in an upper viewing gallery as her character supports her husband. It’s a change for those who are used to American-style “Law & Order” type dramas, but full of traditions from centuries past.
“Our legal system was founded hundreds of years ago, so there’s this kind of archaic aspect that I find really interesting,” Miller said. “It’s kind of fascinating, the pomp and ceremony is really unchanged since its inception.”
“There’s a theater to it,” said Friend, who was paired with Miller for their “Anatomy of a Scandal” interviews. “If you think of sort of classic images of London for tourists, you have the Beefeaters and the Changing of the Guard, which don’t really keep, you know. In fact, they do not fight anything. It’s more the dress and the hat and the horse and all that and I feel like the elements of the legal system here have that about them. There’s the symbolism of the wig and there’s, you know, those ceremonies and the pomp and circumstance as Sienna used to say that gives it…yeah, kind of theatrical air.
And intertwined with the tense courtship scenes are storytelling techniques spearheaded by executive producer and director SJ Clarkson, Scott explained.
“What was interesting was SJ’s use of transitional flashbacks and going from a moment and saying a line in the past that you say in the present in the courtroom,” he said. she declared.
“It’s a really good tool, I think, and a really interesting cinematic choice that I think really pays off,” she added.
“Anatomy of a Scandal” is available to stream on Netflix now.