In “Scandal,” ABC’s newest series from Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy), Tony Goldwyn plays the President of the United States, or “Fitz” as he is known to his staff and his mistress Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington).
This passionate romance between the President and a crisis management guru has become the heart of the show. “He’s madly in love with Olivia Pope, and it’s a terrible problem he’s got, to be desperately in love with a woman that is not his wife,” said Goldwyn in a video chat with Gold Derby.
“The pace of ‘Scandal’ overall is so fast, and Shonda was always on us about ‘Scandal’ pace, ‘Scandal’ pace, you’ve got to go faster. Except, when Fitz and Olivia have a scene, and then everything stops … there’s lots of pauses and silence in our scenes … It’s a really bold choice to have a script that goes like a bat out of hell and then silence for literally, on two occasions, a full minute,” he added. “When we have those opportunities, the tension is built up so much that it gave us so much to play.”
On the more intimate aspects of the love affair storyline, Goldwyn is of two minds. “In terms of the intimate stuff, you know sex scenes are just really tricky to do. It’s bizarre and embarrassing, but I’ve done them a lot, and you just need to have a sense of humor about it and take care of each other and make the other person feel safe and not vulnerable,” Goldwyn said, adding a laugh. “Kerry is one of the more beautiful women on the planet, so that made it a little easier.”
Goldwyn will be on the Emmy Awards ballot this summer in the Best Drama Supporting Actor category. Actors playing the President have fared well at the Emmys in recent years, including Martin Sheen, nominated six times for “The West Wing,” Geena Davis nominated once for “Commander in Chief”, Gregory Itzin nominated twice for “24,” and Cherry Jones, who won as Best Drama Supporting Actress for “24” in 2009.
Although playing the leader of the free world was a little daunting for Goldwyn at first, he relished the challenge of bringing a flawed, sexier, and certainly more human President to the screen. In bringing this character to life, Goldwyn was inspired by past and present commanders in chief. “There’s a Kennedy-esque quality to the way Shonda wrote him, but the two people I most paid attention to were Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, even though Fitz is a Republican,” he said. “They’re both absolute rock star public speakers.”
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