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.
Who Tony Goldwyn
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.