'Scandal' Interview: Tony Goldwyn on Tonight's 'Incredible' Episode and Playing President
'Scandal' Interview: Tony Goldwyn on Tonight's 'Incredible' Episode and Playing President
It's not easy being President of the United States - especially if you've got a wife, an intern and an ex-lover to deal with simultaneously. That's what Scandal's Fitzgerald Grant is dealing with, and actor Tony Goldwyn recently spoke with me about tonight's new episode and what it's like to be the chief executive.

"This week's episode ["The Trail"] is just incredible," he told me. "It's the best one. So much happens in this episode, and you get deep into the relationship between Fitz and Olivia, which was really gratifying for Kerry [Washington] and I to do, because we spent most of the show not speaking to each other. We go back in time and see how the relationship evolved. There's some very beautiful stuff."

It's the first TV series regular role for Goldwyn, a veteran actor who's more likely to be known for his small-screen directing (he's been behind the camera for acclaimed series like Dexter and Justified). That's come in handy when he's back in front of the lens.

"It certainly enhances the process," he explained. "I have a deeper understanding of the process as a whole being a director. That helps me a lot as an actor. I'm able to communicate with directors a lot better. I understand what their issues are, what they're dealing with."

It was his directorial experience that ended up leading him to Scandal. "[Series creator] Shonda Rhimes called and asked if I would do [Scandal]," he said. "I had worked with Shonda because I had directed both Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice. We really hit it off creatively. When I heard that Kerry Washington was involved, she's an actress that I've known socially and was dying to work with."

He's the latest actor to play the President as a regular character on a TV series, following after the likes of Martin Sheen in The West Wing and Dennis Haysbert on 24. I asked Goldwyn how cool it really is to have portrayed the most powerful man in the country, if not the world.

"It's really very cool. It's cooler than I thought it would be," he said. "It was a little daunting at first but then you kind of realize [that] every President is just a guy who may have a lot of gifts or abilities, but who's ultimately thrust into the situation where you have this extraordinary load on your shoulders. That was really a fun challenge."

Another challenge was being prepared to handle the numerous plot twists we've already seen pop up throughout the series, as the actors might not know in advance where their characters were headed. Explained Goldwyn, "I would typically like to know, but Shonda hadn't decided a lot of where the show was going to go. She tends to write based on what she sees happening. We knew very early on we needed to roll with it. And some of the things she didn't want us to know. We had to be OK with that and it ended up being really exciting not to know.

"I just said, 'I'll make it all up for myself and if it changes, I'll adapt.' We were constantly making assumptions. Jeff Perry, who plays Cyrus, every time we'd do a table read, we would afterwards do a postmortem and discuss our assumptions about everything. One day we were talking all about Jeff's marriage and his wife and what that was. He'd been divorced, we'd decided, and we made up all this stuff and the very next script we find out he's gay and he's married to a man."

Scandal is unique in that, as a midseason series, it has only seven episodes in its season, shorter than many orders that we're used to seeing. I asked Goldwyn what it was like to work on a show with so few installments.

"It was great," he said. "It was like doing a miniseries, as opposed to 22 episodes. It was a manageable chunk to bite off. Doing seven [episodes] was a great number, because it allowed Shonda to really focus on the scripts, defining and discovering what the show is. It felt like a real luxury.

"This is my first series regular part; I'm loving it, and I'm blessed to have this be the project that I'm doing it on. The cast is so good and my character's so interesting. I feel really lucky because everything that Fitz is involved in is character story as opposed to just plot. My stuff is all about my relationships."

Yet audiences who only know Goldwyn from Scandal are barely scratching the surface of his lengthy and varied career. He's been behind the camera and in front of it, on stage and in film, and has no plans to simplify his resume.

"The thing that I most love is mixing it up. That's what gives me the most joy," he explained. "I can go from Scandal to later this year, I'm creating a television show for AMC that I'm going to direct and produce. When I first started out people would ask me, 'What do you want to do?' I thought, 'I want to play all different kinds of parts. I want to play the broadest range that I possibly can.' and I've kind of extrapolated that."

For Scandal fans who are looking to see more of his work, Goldwyn has some recommendations for you: "I'd say watch the last film I directed, Conviction, or my first film A Walk On The Moon. Most people know me as an actor from Ghost [so] that's an easy one. There's a small movie I did called An American Rhapsody that I think is really beautiful."

But at least for the next two weeks, he's got a country to lead. And at least from an entertainment standpoint, we're better off that he's sitting in the Oval Office.

Scandal continues its season tonight at 10pm on ABC. You can also follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyGoldwyn.

For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my BuddyTV writer page, and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

Image courtesy of ABC