Hoping to no doubt continue the upward ratings trend of what is very quickly becoming the most buzzed about show on television, SCANDAL star Bellamy Young — better known around these parts by her small screen alter ego of First Lady Mellie Grant — recently took to the phones to tease what promises to be a sizzling SCANDAL midseason finale tonight on ABC (CityTV in Canada). See for yourself, after the jump.
First Lady Mellie Grant wasn’t originally written as a series regular. Did you ever imagine she would evolve into such a force to be reckoned with?
Bellamy Young: I couldn’t have even dreamed it. Honestly. I knew when I read the pilot two years ago that it was one of the best things I had read in a long time — Shonda [Rhimes] is so amazing — but I just had two lines and was simply happy to have been chosen to get to say them. I loved Tony [Goldwyn]… Kerri [Washington] is amazing… Jeff Perry… this entire group of people and I sort of figured that maybe it was going to be a two or three episode arc. But then they just kept writing this amazing and crazy stuff for Mellie! Bless their hearts. And now to let me be a part of the show full time, it’s the biggest gift of my professional life.
This being SCANDAL, is it safe to assume that tonight’s mid-season finale might shed some much needed light on the person or persons involved in the assassination attempt on President Fitz’s life?
You absolutely will. And I think everyone can join the conversation on Twitter at #whatthehuck which is sort of the perfect expression because I think everybody is wondering what Huck was doing there and tonight you’re going to find out more. Of course, nobody takes a shot at the President of the United States without there being a sorted, complicated, tapestry of people and politics involved. So audiences can expect that to play out over the next few episodes. There’s a lot more to the story as things keep getting peeled away and you’re going to get some juicy juicy answers that keep getting juicier. It’s deep and twisted and well, scandalous!
Tonight’s episode promises plenty of flashbacks, but the one I’m waiting for is the one that elaborates on your character’s backstory? How did she transform into this power-mad First Lady?
I love our flashback episodes because you get to see the humanity in each of our characters. I like them also because you’re reminded as an audience member that you’re just meeting them in the moment they’re in, and if we were all judged on one little era in our lives people might come to much different conclusions. So absolutely there will be a lot more to come. Who is Mellie? In upcoming episodes, you’ll get to know family members for a lot of us and that will sort of inform, as they do in real life who we grew to be. How Mellie was made, in upcoming episodes, you’ll find out!
When a new SCANDAL script arrives in at your door or in your inbox, do you immediately flip to the final scene to see if your character survives the episode!?
I don’t! We don’t get any information in advance. We’ve actually taken to doing the table reads cold. And it’s sort of amazing, the amount of fun it is to find out as a group what’s going to happen next. For the writers it’s a good litmus test for them to see the show take shape and get a sense of the pace and how things are landing. So we find out when we sit down for the table read a day before we start shooting the episode and it’s incredible because you hang on every word, not knowing whether or not you’re going to still be breathing at the end of the script.
And finally, what’s it like playing a character that we can only imagine is the complete and polar opposite of your real life persona?
It’s a ball! I’ve got to tell you, our days are long, but they’re really fun, our crew is incredible and to get to spend 17 hours a day playing somebody who is “My way or the highway” and totally unleashed — because I would never behave like Mellie does in my own life — it’s kind of freeing. To go on these crazy amazing diatribes at Cyrus or scream my face off at poor sweet Fitz, Tony Goldwyn, it’s unbelievable. That plus the hair and the outfits, it’s such a thrill.
SCANDAL airs Thursdays at 10PM on ABC (CityTV in Canada)