finishes its season tonight - so it was a perfect time for me to chat with actress Kerry Washington, who plays the brassy and brilliant crisis expert Olivia Pope, about the surprise-laden show and what we can look forward to as everything reaches a conclusion.
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"Every day is just a dream," she gushed. When asked to name her favorite part of tonight's finale, she said, "I'm so excited for people to see the work of both Bellamy Young and Matt Letscher. I think one of the really great things about doing a show about crisis management is the stakes are so high that you really get to see actors flex their muscles. Week to week you get these stellar performances, these awesome moments from actors and these two just blew me away."
As complimentary as she is of her colleagues, watch a few minutes of the show and it's obvious that Shonda Rhimes picked an excellent leading lady. As Olivia, Washington is truly at the center of the series - not simply by virtue of being the lead actress, but because she has screen presence, and her character is so deeply embedded in everything that she has to deal with, both professionally and personally. We can't help but pull for her even as we sit and wonder what she has up her sleeve next. What does Washington enjoy most about playing this strong, dedicated woman?
"The thing that I love is her complexity," she explained. "She's a woman filled with contradictions, and contradictions that make sense because they're really rooted in her humanity. She's so three-dimensional and complicated. This is an actor's dream, this character and this opportunity."
She's gotten considerable acclaim for her work in the part, not just from critics but also from her colleagues. When I spoke to Tony Goldwyn
last week, he was highly complimentary of Washington, whom he said he was "dying to work with." She told me that the admiration is mutual. "I appreciate what a professional he is. He's such a great, great actor," she said, pointing to the closing moments of last week's "The Trail."
"Usually when you do a scene with another actor, you're looking at each other," she explained. "But in that final scene from last week, we're sort of looking out, so I wasn't privy to the look that Tony was doing. I was moved as an actor in the moment and in viewing it, to be able to witness the work that Tony was doing, it was such joy to work with such a talented actor."
Another distinctive characteristic of Scandal
is its propensity for legitimate surprises - and not just the jaw-dropping, "did you see that?" reveals, but also character moments that show us different shades to each individual. For Washington, that's another intriguing part of the job.
"Every week we would have those [surprising] moments, which are so rewarding," she said. "All season long you're getting these reveals about the skeletons in people's closets. The Huck storyline, where we saw his private life and got to know more about his history, was a real turning point for me with the show. You realize the level of secrets [is] universal. It's not just Olivia. When we have a client walk in the door, we know what that feels like. I'm looking forward to getting more information about some of the other
people at Pope and Associates, learning more about everybody. There's
even more to learn."
Washington now has a season two of Scandal
to look forward to, as the series was renewed by ABC just prior to our chat. What would she like to see in the second season? "I'm really open," she told me. "It's been such a wonderful ride, and one of the great, exciting things about this world is you never know what call she's going to get."The Scandal season finale airs tonight at 10 PM ET/PT on ABC; the season is already available for pre-order on DVD. You can follow Kerry Washington on Twitter at @kerrywashington. For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my BuddyTV writer page, and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.
Image courtesy of CBS