Kerry Washington has locked lips with co-star Tony Goldwyn more times than we’re willing to count. And who could blame her? Goldwyn, a dashingly handsome 53-year-old L.A. native, also goes by the name of President Fitzgerald: the sexy but duplicitous bad-boy love interest of Olivia Pope (played by Washington) in the irresistibly dramatic TV series Scandal.
Goldwyn’s not shy when it comes to playing the bad guy: you might remember him as the villain in the classic 1990 film Ghost. We’re getting a taste of his good side on the big screen for his latest role, playing Andrew Prior in Divergent, the selfless father to Shailene Woodley’s Beatrice.
FLARE chatted with the rising star about his rogue alter-ego and what it’s like working with a couple of Hollywood’s favourite leading ladies.
Your role as President Fitzgerald Grant—fondly referred to as Fitz—on Scandal has garnered the show a lot more male attention. Have you had any interesting comments from both male and female fans regarding this change?
It used to be that guys would stop me and say, “My girlfriend loves your show.” Now they tend to tell me, “My girlfriend got me into your show and I just binge-watched the entire three seasons in one night!”
Responses from the show’s fans have been divided when it comes to your character—they either love you or hate you. What do you like about Fitz as a character?
I love Fitz. He’s a human being: passionate and flawed. What I like best are the contrasts in character—one moment he’s loving, tender and empathetic; the next, he’s ruthless and cruel. Shonda [Rhimes, the show’s creator] has done a great thing with Scandal by not worrying how likeable a character is. Her only concern is that they be compelling.
The chemistry between you and Kerry Washington is so steamy it’s almost infectious. What’s your relationship like behind the scenes?
Kerry and I have a great relationship off-screen, which is mostly defined by the fact that she never stops teasing me, especially when I’m directing!
In the past, you’ve directed episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. Soon we’ll see the second episode you’ve directed for Scandal. What muscles are you able to flex as a director that differ from those you use as an actor?
Being a member of the cast gives me a type of inside knowledge and shorthand with everyone that is rare for an episodic TV director.
As the president, you have to wear a lot of power suits. How does the fashion help you inhabit the role?
Lyn Paolo [Scandal’s costume designer] is a genius. She has a way of creating a powerful sense of style—or, a stylish sense of power—with great simplicity. Whenever I put on Fitz’s clothes and look in the mirror, he’s just there. With some subtle flair, be it the tie, the shirt, the cut or fabric of the particular suit, he’s never self-conscious or showy.
Besides starring in one of the most popular shows on television right now, you also have a role in the highly anticipated action film Divergent, where you play Andrew Prior, the father of heroine Beatrice Prior, played by Shailene Woodley. Tell me a bit about how the characters you play differ from one another and what you’re bringing to this new role.
Both men are leaders. In Divergent, Andrew is a leader of the Abnegation faction, which is dedicated to selflessness and service. I’m not sure I could say the same about Fitz. My intention with Andrew Prior was to make sure the audience felt the connection between him and his daughter, Beatrice, along with the bonds within the family. Beatrice defects from the family and I wanted the audience to feel the cost of that separation.
Shailene Woodley is a huge new talent on the scene. What do you think makes her so special? How did you like working with her?
Shai is so incredibly grounded and wise for someone so young. She is passionately devoted to her work, as she is to the world at large, with none of the neurosis that can plague people to whom success comes so young.
The plot for Divergent is set in the near future. Were there any odd futuristic fashions that you had to wear to play the part?
The clothes are sort of retro-Zen meets Amish. So no, these are not the typical futuristic outfits. This is a society that has reformed after a devastating war—everything is homemade.
(Photos courtesy of Entertainment One – thanks!)