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Sienna Miller confesses she feared her role in Anatomy of a Scandal would be too 'triggering'

Sienna Miller Anatomy of a Scandal
Sienna Miller plays Sophie Whitehouse in Netflix's six-part thriller (Image credit: Netflix)

Sienna Miller has lived much of her life under the unforgiving glare of tabloid scrutiny and says she was initially reluctant to play a character who suffered a similar fate in Anatomy of a Scandal

The new Netflix thriller tells the story of James Whitehouse (Rupert Friend) a politician who's accused of sexually assaulting his aide Olivia Lytton (Naomi Scott) after breaking off their extra-marital affair. 

As his wife and the mother of his children, Sophie Whitehouse (Miller) initially stands by his side, yet as the court case approaches and every aspect of their lives together are splashed across the tabloids, she begins to question their relationship. 

"Sophie and I are very different people and our reactions are not the same," says Sienna. "But Sophie was dealing with things in her life I’ve also dealt with in mine, so it was always going to feel personal.”

Miller's private life was often the subject of many column inches in the noughties following her breakthrough role in Layer Cake and the star wondered if playing Sophie might remind her of those difficult times. 

"I did think, ‘Do I really want to relive these experiences?’ But, at the same time, I’m drawn to the things I know and have explored in my own life and I also love characters who go on a journey and have an awakening." 

Anatomy of a Scandal Sienna Miller

James and Sophie Whitehouse come under intense scrutiny during the drama. (Image credit: Netflix)

"Sophie moves from a woman who is preserving her perfect, privileged life by refusing to see what’s in front of her, to one who will sacrifice everything for the truth. I loved who she was by the end.”

One woman who’s convinced of his guilt is prosecution barrister Kate Woodcroft (Downton Abbey star Michelle Dockery) who takes up the case against James Whitehouse in this six-part Netflix thriller.

Based on the bestselling novel by Sarah Vaughan (opens in new tab) and adapted for the screen by Big Little Lies creator David E. Kelley, the drama will examine themes of power, privilege and consent.

“It’s also about consent, privilege and toxic masculinity – which are big themes right now. And I loved that," says Sienna. "Yes, we’re actors telling stories, but the older I get, the more interested I am in dramas that spark a conversation and Anatomy of a Scandal will definitely do that.”

"Rupert and I had initial reservations about our roles. For me it was about whether the role might be too ‘triggering’, and for Rupert, it was about not shying away from playing someone who the audience might find pretty ugly. But accepting those challenges are what you’re meant to do as actors and neither of us had any regrets.”

Anatomy of a Scandal is released on Friday, April 15 on Netflix

Sean Marland
Sean Marland

Sean has been writing about all things telly for over 10 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are The Great British Bake-Off, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.