Scandal Case Study: Tony Goldwyn Talks Fitz’s Operation Remington Shocker


Holy mother of a reveal, Scandal! Shonda Rhimes' political thriller peeled back a major layer of its story Thursday in an episode that offered a glimpse at President Fitzgerald Grant's potential re-election opponents as well as a major part of the cover-up behind Operation Remington.

During “More Cattle, Less Bull,” Jake (Scott Foley) and Huck (Guillermo Diaz), now working together to bring down Rowan (Joe Morton) and B613, discover that Fitz’s (Tony Goldwyn) missing flight was a U.S. government-sponsored mission in Iceland to shoot down a commercial airliner carrying 300 civilians, including Maya Lewis — otherwise known as Olivia’s mother.

Of course the reveal comes after Olivia (Kerry Washington) turns down working as the campaign manager for Fitz’s Democratic challenger, Sen. Josie Marcus (Lisa Kudrow), in favor of returning to the White House. Olivia sports a “Grant for President” shirt, signaling her intent to go back to working for the man she still loves, following a gut-wrenching speech from Mellie (Bellamy Young), who went behind the president’s back to bring in his former mistress.

The Hollywood Reporter turned to Goldwyn to get the scoop on what’s ahead as part of our weekly Scandal Case Study postmortem series.

Fitz shot down a plane with Olivia’s mother on board! What was your reaction when you found out?

I was absolutely stunned. I had made out an entire scenario in my head for what Operation Remington was, and I was partly right. I figured out the whole Iran end of it, but beyond that, when I heard it was with her mother and that it was somewhere else, I was completely freaked out by it!

We presume Huck and Jake tell Olivia about it in the next episode, what can you tease about how she’ll respond to the news?

You can only imagine what that would be like to find out that your mother did not die in the way that you thought she died, in terms of it being a willful act. It’s surreal for Olivia, but it’s very bad! (Laughs.) It’s not good for Liv and Fitz!

How will this reveal change Olivia’s already strained relationship with her father?

The audience can imagine what that must be like to find out that your mother was murdered along with hundreds of other people. So the fact that her father was behind it is incomprehensible. It’s going to really complicate it because Rowan remains a very dangerous person. It’s not like everyone can just expose him or take him out. It becomes a very volatile and dangerous situation. You can imagine how devastating it is for Olivia.

Was Fitz aware that Olivia’s mother was onboard the plane he shot down? Is he finding out for the first time that she was on board?

He didn’t know; he is completely in the dark. I can’t tell you how Fitz finds out, but he had no idea about it. In that same way, he has no idea that Rowan is Olivia’s father. As far as Fitz knew, he was a young special forces pilot and doing black ops operation and he had no clue. Operation Remington was a dark chapter in Fitz’s career, but for anybody in the military who’s in active duty, dark chapters are not unusual. Whatever ugliness happened, Fitz had to compartmentalize it and deal with it the way all soldiers do. 

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Scandal’s Tony Goldwyn Is a Real-Life Political Junkie Now hooked on Twitter, thanks to Kerry Washington

Who Tony Goldwyn
Age 53
Accomplishments Plays President Fitz Grant on ABC’s Scandal; co-creator and executive producer of upcoming WE TV series The Divide; appears in the film adaptation of Divergent, in theaters March 2014
Base New York and Los Angeles

What’s the first information you consume in the morning?
The New York Times. I get it on my iPad. I used to get it in print, but I travel around so much that the online version is just easier. And that’s usually followed by NPR—Morning Edition, then All Things Considered in the afternoon.

You play the president of the United States on Scandal—do you follow D.C. political news?
Yeah, it happens to be an interest of mine anyway. I’ve spent time there advocating on different issues on the Hill and the White House, so I’m pretty familiar with that world, and was always a bit of a political junkie. Now, I’ll often read the Washington Post, and I don’t necessarily do Roll Call or The Hill or things like that, but sometimes I will if I’m looking for something specific.

Tell us about your social media habits.
I’m on Twitter, I don’t do Facebook, and I do a little bit of Instagram. Before Scandal, I was completely inept with social media. I felt it was something for my kids and not me. But I started doing Twitter about a year ago for Scandal. I’ve seen how powerful it can be, not only for our show but also the impact I can have promoting charities that I support.

[Scandal creator] Shonda Rhimes has been a big advocate of Twitter. Did she get you to sign up?
It was Shonda and Kerry Washington who really said that we had to get on Twitter to promote Scandal, and boy were they right. Every week, the whole cast live tweets the show—we actually commit two hours because we do it for the East Coast and the West Coast. It has become an event for Scandal fans. It’s brought them back to appointment viewing for network television at a time when most people are moving away from it.

Are you a TV junkie?
What I really like to do, speaking of non-appointment television, is binge watch. I’ll save a whole season of Breaking Bad or Mad Men or Game of Thrones or Parenthood. I tend to get really fixated on shows—right now, I’m really into Shameless and Southland, which I think is brilliant—so I just want to watch that rather than spend my evenings watching broadcast television.

How do you wind down before bed?
I literally can’t sleep if I don’t read before I go to bed. Right now, I’m reading Anna Karenina. I had never read the book. I like to alternate between nonfiction and fiction, so the next book on my list is A. Scott Berg’s book Wilson.

You’re in next year’s movie adaptation of Divergent. Are you a YA fan at all?
Not so much. I thought Divergent was great, but I only read it because I was doing the movie. It’s not really my genre. Even Harry Potter—I liked the books, but it wasn’t my thing.

What’s your favorite app?
I think the one I use the most is iAnnotate. It’s a PDF reading app where you can make annotations and work on a document. I find it incredibly useful and well thought out because I do a lot of work on scripts.


"Scandal" Star Tony Goldwyn On Season 3, Shonda Rhimes And TV Diversity

It’s not easy playing the most powerful man in the free world, but “Scandal” star Tony Goldwyn has put a spell on millions of fans as the handsome, charming and manipulative President Fitzgerald Grant III.  The “will they or won’t they” love affair between Fitz and crisis manager Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington)  is must see tv” on Thursday nights.

Born into Hollywood royalty (his grandfather Samuel Goldwyn was one of the founders of MGM Studios), the talented actor and director is blazing his own trail in Tinseltown by helping to bring a more diverse vision of the world on the small and big screen.

We caught up with Goldwyn to discuss being the other half of primetime’s most controversial couple, scoop on Season 3, working with Shonda Rhimes and why cultural diversity is so important in Hollywood.

TUD: In the season premiere, we found out Fitz leaked Olivia’s name to the press.  What was your reaction when you read the script and how hard was it to keep secret?

Tony Goldwyn: I was totally shocked.  The obvious choice was Mellie, but I thought that was too obvious a choice. The way we tend to read our scripts,  we do our table reads  a day or two before shooting, so the cast doesn’t see the script until then.  So it’s become this ritual at “Scandal” where we experience the script collectively.  Everyone was shocked but I was really pleased because last season was really tough for me;  Fitz had worked so hard at committing to telling the truth about Olivia, only to to end up crawling back to Mellie with his head in her lap.

Even though Fitz has repeatedly said Olivia’s the love of his life, he is still with Mellie.   It does seem Fitz gets a perverse pleasure from this power play with his wife. Could it be that Mellie is Fitz’s soulmate and not Olivia?

Absolutely not!  It’s very complicated because Fitz has love for Mellie, I think he feels a deep responsibility for her since she’s family.  He respects her intelligence, but they have this love/hate relationship where sometimes he loathes her but also wants to take care of her.  She’s the mother of his children and has compassion for her, but there’s no comparison to what he feels for Olivia. For Fitz, there’s not a doubt Olivia is the love of his life.

We’ve heard about Jerry and Karen, Fitz and Mellie’s two older children throughout the series. When can we expect them to drop by the White House?

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Scandal’s Tony Goldwyn Talks Season Three, Kerry Washington, and Olitz

Scandal star Tony Goldwyn has a unique quality about him. OK, he has several—and one of them begins and ends with the word “abs.” But what I’m most struck by is his ability to portray the tortured and captivating President Fitzgerald Grant, who, on paper, would be a villain. I mean, we’re talking about a man who’s cheating on First Lady Mellie with Olivia Pope and has killed a Supreme Court Justice. Yet every week, viewers not only don’t judge him, but they flat out root and empathize for him. That’s a testament to Goldwyn’s talent. He’s able to break our hearts with a forlorn look or inspire us with a well-delivered speech. It’s no wonder why the man who plays The Man is so beloved by Gladiators everywhere, so it’s only fitting that on Scandal premiere night, I’m sharing my wonderful conversation that I had with him last week. We discuss the show, Twitter fans, and some sneak peeks at season three.

Glamour: Thanks for taking time out of your very hectic schedule to chat with me today.
Tony Goldwyn: No problem. It’s my pleasure.

Glamour: First off, congratulations on season three. Everyone over at Glamour is really thrilled for the show to start back up. Now, I don’t want to get you in trouble, but can you give me any hints about what will happen this season?
Goldwyn: Where should I begin? We find everyone on Scandal about 20 minutes after the events of season two. You know, through the combination of the revelation of Olivia’s father [Rowan], who becomes a very complex part of the show, and the revelation of Olivia and Fitz’s affair, it has created an enormous mess. We have to find out who’s behind that, what their agenda is, and how to shut it down. The last thing I can say about season three is that it starts to go…it doesn’t repeat in any way the previous seasons, which I was really happy about. It takes all the threads and storylines that have been laid out so far and gets really deep and complicated, and things get pretty dark.

Glamour: Wow, now I’m really looking forward to what’s going to go down. So when we left off with Fitz, it seemed like he was kind of going back to Mellie. In fact, he rested his head on her lap. What did you make of that scene?
Goldwyn: Honestly, I didn’t know what to make of it. I was so shocked when I read that. [Laughter] He was determined that he was going to make things work with Olivia and tell the truth. So when she rejected him in the Oval Office during the last episode, he goes to Mellie. The only way I could approach it was that he was just gutted by Olivia ending things one more time, and then on Olivia’s end, the news that Fitz killed Verna was intense. There was just a lot happening. I have to say, that scene was a rough one for me. We’ll see where it goes.

Glamour: So how did the role of Fitz come about for you?
Goldwyn: I got a phone call from Shonda asking me if I wanted to play the President of the United States. It really came out of the blue. I had just finished directing a movie and had done a Broadway show. That’s when I started thinking, “Wow, there are really incredible things happening on television, and I should open myself up to doing a series.” I was really excited about what was happening with TV and it was just a coincidence that that month, I got the call from Shonda. Also, I had really been dying to work with Kerry Washington. We knew each other a bit, I really loved her as a person, and I was such a huge admirer of her work. When I heard the combination of Shonda and Kerry, I thought, “OK, this is going to be interesting.” I had no idea where it was going to go, but I knew it was going to be an explosive combination.

Read the full article here

EW: Tony Goldwyn Talks about Season 3

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We’re speaking on Aug. 22, a day you’re spending promoting and signing the DVD. What’s been your favorite fan encounter?
TONY GOLDWYN: My favorite fan encounter was on an airplane last year. I came out of the bathroom, and the flight attendant grabbed me and pulled me into the kitchen galley and started giving me relationship advice. She said, “You have to forgive Olivia. This just can’t go on. You have to know that she loves you, and those other people — Mellie and Cyrus — are trying to hurt you. You can’t listen to them.” [Laughs] It was completely real for her. I said, “Okay, well, I have to talk to Shonda [Rhimes, Scandal's creator] about that.”

Do you find that fan reaction to Fitz is consistent — they’ve chosen a side, and they will always love him or hate him — or does it change from episode to episode?
It’s pretty constant. I guess I feel the love more than the hate. Although the haters might not come up to me. [Laughs] Apparently I got a piece of hate mail yesterday. My assistant told me I got a piece of hate mail for misbehaving. Last year, when things were going so dark for Fitz and I mistreated Olivia, when I was cruel to her, I got a lot of people upset by that. But they would say, “I still love him, BUT…” And then as skillful as Shonda is, she pushed him right to the edge and then turned him right around again. People are really gratified by that.

What’s been the best crew reaction after “Cut!” has been called on a bombshell moment?
It’s more that the big reactions come when we do our table reads. That’s when we first see the scripts or read them out loud together. It’s a great communal experience we have. When any of those moments happen, people stand and cheer, or burst out laughing, or applaud. [Laughs] We leapt to our feet when we found out at the end of season 2 that Joe Morton’s character was Olivia’s father, when she said, “Dad?” The biggest one for me was in the scene at Verna’s funeral. It was after I killed her, but it was before you actually realized I’d killed her. Olivia comes up to me and says, “I’ll wait for you, Fitz,” and I turn to her and say, “No, I’ve changed my mind on that. Don’t.” That really shocked me. I almost couldn’t get the words out, I was so surprised. I’d been so insistent that we were meant to be together, that was a difficult turn.

That was more difficult than reading that Fitz essentially suffocates Verna?
The way it was structured, it was out of time sequence: You saw me say that to Liv at the funeral, and then you flash back to the murder scene. So in a way, when I murdered Verna, I was relieved ’cause I realized I had a reason — I understood why I’d said that to Olivia. Whereas when I said that in the scene, you don’t understand at all why Fitz is doing that. And then I thought, “Oh, I see. It’s because I murdered Verna. Okay. Well, she deserved it.” [Laughs]

We will see Fitz and Olivia in scenes together in the season 3 premiere, now that her name’s been leaked to the press as the woman with whom Fitz was having an affair?
Yes. Fitz and Olivia are forced to deal with one another. It’s very much in the context of crisis management.

You’ve said Fitz has a line in the season’s second episode that will break Twitter. Is it another one of those shockingly cold, awesome lines?
No, I wouldn’t say “cold” would be the description of the line. But awesome, yes.

Can you tell us to whom you’re speaking?
No. But it’s good. It’s really good. You’ll know it when you hear it.

There’s also been a death teased in episode 4 — someone close to Fitz, but not a main character — that will rock him because he feels guilty and has something to hide.
There are some really dark threads to this season. It’s also funny and entertaining as ever, but Shonda’s pushin’ it. She’s going to some pretty dark places, and it’s just more complex I think than last season was — if that’s possible.

A lighter question then: You’re InStyle‘s Man of Style in its September issue, and you posed in a bathtub. I feel like that gives me the right to ask whether we’ll see more Fitz shower scenes in season 3.
Um, I don’t know. [Laughs] That’s a Shonda question. I can tell you we have none yet. Maybe there’s a bathtub scene, I don’t know. We’ll see.

Last question: You’re also exec producing The Divide, WE tv’s first scripted series premiering in 2014, about a case worker with The Innocence Initiative who believes a death-row inmate has been wrongly convicted. How will that work with your Scandal schedule?
I’m doing both right now. Scandal, obviously, is the first priority. But we’re gonna have a hiatus of Scandal. The way Scandal is gonna work this year is we’re gonna air 10 episodes straight through. Last year, it was very maddening that it would be on for two weeks, and then off for a week, and then on for three, and then off for two. No one ever knew when it was going to be on, which was very frustrating for us and for the fans. So this year, we’re doing 10 in a row, with the exception of Thanksgiving. Then we’ll take a little break, and then come back for 12 more in a row. So there’s gonna be a gap between those where I will direct the first episode of The Divide, which will actually be the second episode because we already did the pilot. Beyond that, I’ll be involved as a producer — in the editing room, in the scripts, and going back and forth to the location as much as I can. I like multitasking, so it will be good.