Goldwynn rules on 'Scandal'
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 5:42 p.m.
When "Scandal" debuted last spring, its premise seemed clear-cut.
Watch the show
“Scandalous” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC
This latest melodrama from Shonda Rhimes ("Grey's Anatomy") starred Kerry Washington as boss of a Beltway crisis management firm that fixes problems for the D.C. mighty.
Clearly, Olivia Pope was well-connected: She had been the communications director to the president of the United States and helped put Fitzgerald Grant in the White House.
But a certain scandalous detail gave the show a surprise punch: Olivia and Fitz had been locked in a torrid love affair since the campaign.
For the Grant Administration, this could mean big problems.
Meanwhile, it's a blessing for Tony Goldwyn, who plays the smitten chief executive.
"When I was signed for the show, Shonda indicated that she had big plans for Fitz and Olivia," Goldwyn said, "but you never know."
Now 52, Goldwyn first caught the public's eye as Patrick Swayze's best friend in the box office smash "Ghost." He went on to appear in "The Pelican Brief," Oliver Stone's "Nixon," and as astronaut Neil Armstrong in the HBO miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon."
"On ‘Scandal,' " he said, "I wanted to avoid playing a generic TV president. And I wanted Fitz to be a modern president, so I spent a lot of time watching Clinton and Obama, who have this ability to connect with people. I saw Fitz as a Republican Obama who is very purpose-driven and wants to get beyond party politics."
No profile of Goldwyn can fail to mention the film dynasty he springs from. His grandfather was the legendary mogul Samuel Goldwyn, a party to the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio empire.
His father, Samuel Goldwyn Jr., is a successful producer as well, but who was careful to shield Tony from the Hollywood glitter: "He really wanted to make sure we weren't Hollywood brats," said Tony, who witnessed only one film production as a child: an episode of "The Night Stalker."
"That was the only set I was ever on until I started working on them myself as an adult," Goldwyn said.
By then bitten by the acting bug, he found work for several years on episodic TV.
Then came "Ghost," the romantic fantasy that became the highest-grossing film of 1990.
"Suddenly, after all the struggling, I was in this huge hit, and I didn't know what to do next," Goldwyn recalled. "I realized: You can't control your career, what opportunities come your way, what happens in the marketplace."
Eventually, that sense of uncertainty led Goldwyn to seek control in other ways. He produced and directed the acclaimed 1999 drama "A Walk on the Moon.," starring Diane Lane and Viggo Mortensen. In 2010, he directed Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell in "Conviction." Along the way, he has directed TV dramas including "Dexter," "Damages," "Justified" and, later this season, he plans to add "Scandal" to the list.
"Directing takes the pressure off as an actor," he explained, allowing him to be more selective in the acting roles he takes. With that, he shares his criteria for which acting jobs he accepts: Does the material interest him and can he do something with it? Who else is involved that he might like to work with? How much does it pay?
"If an offer satisfies any two of these three, I'll take it," he said.
So which two conditions does "Scandal" satisfy?
"It's a trifecta," he replies. "Thank God, this really is a dream job!"