Who shot Fitz? Suffice it to say, it’s the single biggest question on every TV Addict’s mind since the shocking closing moments of last Thursday’s episode of SCANDAL. And why, when recently given the opportunity to interview one of EW.com’s “Entertainers of the Year” Kerry Washington, this TV Addict jumped at the chance. What follows, is our candid conversation with the affable actress that touches on everything from what promises to be tonight’s scandalous episode to the curious intersection of her professional and politically active life. See for yourself, after the jump.
When you initially signed on to SCANDAL, did you have any idea as to just how juicy, delicious and well scandalous the show would turn out to be?
Kerry Washington: I had no idea. When I first read the pilot I knew I loved the script, the writing and the character, but honestly I am the luckiest broad in showbiz! To be getting the storylines we get every week, it’s so inspiring as actors. We’re really such fans of our own show because the writing is so phenomenal. We also have so much respect for each other as actors and just as a family continue to inspire one another.
Can you confirm that fans will in fact find out who shot President Fitz tonight?
Fans will find out who shot Fitz, the gunman [Editor’s Note: A quick followup question to Ms. Washington clarified that it could in fact be a gun “woman”] shall be revealed and you know it’s pretty crazy. But you know in typical SCANDAL style, there will be a lot more questions as well.
Having already shot the episode, how surprised were you to discover the identity of the shooter?
Oh gosh…. the show is such a roller coaster ride, everything surprises me. As a cast, we often get together to watch episodes over the weekend because we want to be prepared for live-tweeting — it’s hard to watch the episode for the first time and tweet at the same time — and even then, we’re all screaming at the end of the episode as if we haven’t already shot it! It’s just so exciting.
Speaking of exciting, it would appear that fans have really latched onto your character’s relationship with the President. As an actor, are you rooting for them to get together, or is it more fun playing antagonists?
I don’t really have an opinion about it to be honest with you. It’s not my job to have an opinion about it, I’m on the Shonda Rhimes roller coaster. That said, what I love about the the relationship is that they’re just really flawed human beings. They are both such powerful people — he being the leader of the “free world” and Olivia this incredibly successful powerful woman — yet so flawed, just trying to do the best that they can under the circumstances that they have found themselves in. I like the complexity of that.
When we first met Olivia, we assumed she was simply out there fighting the good fight. Yet the more time we get to spend with her, the more we’ve discovered that she’ll go to pretty much any length to get her desired result. Do you see her as the hero or the villain of the SCANDAL story?
I see her as human. Which I think is the great thing about working for Shonda Rhimes in that she understands that this idea of good people and bad people is false. Human beings are not ever all good or all bad, most people fall somewhere in-between, doing the best we can with what we’ve got at the time and learning along the way.
Aside from acting, you’re known for your passionate political activism. Do you ever struggle with the fact that your SCANDAL role paints politics in such a negative light?
Do you really think the show paints politicians as horrible? I guess it does in some ways, but in others I find the show paints them as somewhat inspiring. President Fitz does really great things and sometimes he does some really bad things, but I actually think it’s really fun. Although, when I first read the script I felt nervous because we were in the middle of President Obama’s first term and I wasn’t sure if as a member of the Obama administration I should do anything that might complicat the image of the White House. So when I first met with Shonda I asked her to tell me about this President and I found out that Fitz was going to be white, going to be a Republican which gave me confidence that it would be fine.
I’m not sure how close of a relationship you have with the real-life President, but do you know if he’s seen the show?
I don’t. I have friends who work in the White House and they’re big fans of the show, obviously as fiction, but I haven’t been in the position to ask the President that.
For the record, I think Fitz is a fairly good, albeit somewhat flawed man. The horribleness is everyone around him pulling the strings! But I digress… what would you had done with your life had this acting thing not worked out as well as it had?
I’d probably be a teacher and that’s what I really love outside of acting, I’m really interested in people, their development and how they become who they are. Even when I was living in New York as a struggling actor auditioning I taught yoga and taught in the New York City Public School System as a substitute teacher. Also, my mom is a retired Professor of Education so it’s just kind of in my blood.
And finally, putting on your writer’s cap for a moment, where would you like to see the show take your character?
I got to say that often as actors we come up with ideas and things we think are cool, but these writers totally surpass our expectations. So I’m going to leave it in their hands because they are so much better at what they do. I really trust them and am really enjoying being along for the ride. Truly, we get these scripts and we think: How do we not screw this up because it’s so good on the page.
SCANDAL airs Thursdays at 10PM on ABC (CityTV in Canada)