Exclusive Interview: ABC Scandal’s Tony Goldwyn Teases Tonight’s Flashback Episode, Playing A President and Being Shameless

ABC Scandal Tony Goldwyn

It’s not easy being a president.

It’s especially hard when that president has been unfaithful to his wife and is being blackmailed with a sex tape. That is the very difficult situation facing Fitzgerald “Fitz” Grant played by Tony Goldwyn in the ABC hit series Scandal starring Kerry Washington.

TV Equals had a chance to chat with the very cool Mr Goldwyn about the upcoming episodes of the season, the challenges faced by his character and how his experience as a director helps his acting. Check out what he had to say below and don’t forget to tune in to the latest episode of Scandal (ABC) titled “The Trail” Episode 6 which airs Thursday, May 10 (10:01-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

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‘Scandal’ has received great feedback from the press and public. Is that exciting to hear?

Tony Goldwyn: It’s very exciting especially because all of us that are doing it really love this show. So, it’s great to be supported in that way.

The Upfronts are coming for ABC. Do you have any hints regarding a second season?

Tony Goldwyn: No. They’ve been keeping us in suspense. I have no idea. I know our ratings have been good and have been growing every week. So, that’s a good sign, and as you said, the press has been very supportive, but honestly, we won’t know for about another week.

Last week, the president was in front of Olivia’s apartment. What can you tease about what’s coming up?

Tony Goldwyn: Well, this week’s episode, I think it’s the best one. The finale is pretty incredible, but this next one is so well done. Fitz and Olivia are finally going to communicate. The other thing that happens this week is that you go back. It’s a flashback episode in parts where you go back to the beginning of Fitz and Olivia’s relationship and find out how it all happened.

It’s really great, on the campaign trail together, and you just get much deeper into the organization, Olivia and Fitz and Mellie, my wife, and Cyrus and that whole dynamic. It’s just great. There’s so much. It all really comes to a boil, and then in the present, the ongoing ticking bombs, both in Olivia Pope and Associates and with Quinn and the journalist that’s pursuing the case. It all really heats up in a very intense way.

Scandal (ABC) The Trail Episode 6 (2)

In every episode we find out more about all those relationships. There’s also the dynamic of power and these relationships melding together. Did you guys talk about that as you developed your characters?

Tony Goldwyn: Yeah. That’s one of the things that I most loved about the show and what Shonda Rhimes has done, that you take them all just as people.

Take Olivia and Fitz and Mellie, for example, just as people. You have a man who is in a long marriage with a family and it’s obviously an effective partnership, but it’s a marriage that’s in trouble. He has fallen in love with a woman that’s not his wife, a colleague who’s not his wife and she is the love of his life. That’s a very real problem. However you want to judge ethically or have moral judgments on it, it’s a very tough place to be in life if that should happen to you.

Now put yourself in the Oval Office in those circumstances and the stakes just go through the roof for everyone involved. So, basically Shonda taking a relationship drama and setting it in the most high stakes world possible just makes it great because they’re literally life and death stakes. For everyone there’s just so much, their decisions and their mistakes and their duty and all that it affects. It would be bad enough just in regular life.

Did you do any research on past White House occupants to get a feel for playing the role of the president?

Tony Goldwyn: I’ve done a lot of research about the presidency and about the White House for past projects because I’ve played the chief of staff at the White House in ‘The Pelican Brief.’ I played a press secretary to President Carter in another project. I’ve played an advisor to Harry Truman in an HBO movie. I’ve done a lot of stuff in and around the White House, and so I’ve read a lot of books.

I’ve always been a sort of political junkie, politically active and all that. So, I’m quite familiar with the world. So, of course I read a lot and watched a lot of stuff for this particularly, but it was already kind of in my bones a bit. So, this just gave me a really interesting opportunity to kind of fire my imagination in a world that I’d already kind of studied, for years really.

Do you feel that the public’s perception of what a president is has evolved, and that this role is a reflection of that as well?

Tony Goldwyn: A hundred percent. Before Nixon, the presidency was kind of this untouchable icon that was really sacrosanct. The human foibles of a president up until Nixon was really off limits. Then with Clinton and Monica Lewinsky all bets were off. So, now the presidency is exposed. Every human foible of a president are just picked at like a flock of birds. We’re constantly trying to tear down and dig at the humanity underlying the president himself. So, that’s a really interesting thing.

So far Obama is managing to steer a straight course, but it’s brutal. Fitz is a guy who I think is a really good man, and I think is revealed to be ultimately a very effective president. He’s a guy who’s made a lot of mistakes and has given in to some very self-destructive impulses and so it just makes it all the more interesting to explore dramatically because we want to judge someone like that. We want to pass judgment and Shonda doesn’t allow you to.

I remember people would see the pilot and go, ‘Ooh, you’re a sleazy president. You’re a bad guy,’ and I’d say, ‘Okay, just wait.’ Then by the last episode they’d be like, ‘Oh, my God, I hope that Fitz and Olivia get together.’ That’s a great thing because it makes us look at ourselves.

You’re also a prolific director. Do you find your background in acting helps you as a director?

Tony Goldwyn: Tremendously, yeah. What I realize is that it’s all storytelling from different points of view, and telling a story from one perspective makes you a better storyteller when you do it from another perspective. So, acting makes me a better director and directing makes me a better actor. And the fact that I go back and forth is constantly enhancing each discipline.

If you could play any real life president in the past who would it be?

Tony Goldwyn: Wow, that’s a really good question. I don’t know who I’d be ideally cast as.

Assume that the technology could make you look like whoever you want.

Tony Goldwyn: Yeah. I think Thomas Jefferson would be a really interesting person to be, or Teddy Roosevelt. Maybe Roosevelt. That sounds really interesting.

If you could guest star on any other TV show, which one would it be?

Tony Goldwyn: It would be probably ‘Shameless’ right now. I think that’s just genius.
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Don’t forget to tune in tonight for an all new episode of Scandal titled “The Trail” Episode 6 (10:01-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. In the meantime, here is a clip of tonight’s episode featuring Fitz and Olivia talking about a sex tape:

ABC Scandal's Tony Goldwyn