Tony Goldwyn loves acting, indicated by his current success as ever-troubled President Fitzgerald “Fitz” Grant on “Scandal.”
He also loves directing, confirmed by his movie work on Hilary Swank‘s drama “Conviction” and Ashley Judd‘s romantic comedy “Someone Like You.”
Thursday (May 2), he combines those careers as the director of ABC’s newest “Scandal” episode, in which he also has considerable acting time as Fitz deals with fallout from dual personal dilemmas: crisis-management expert Olivia Pope’s (Kerry Washington) latest rejection of him, and first lady Mellie’s (Bellamy Young) threat to expose that affair if he stands in her way of leaving with their infant son.
“I was a little surprised when I read the script,” the friendly Goldwyn admits to Zap2it of discovering how much acting he’d be doing while also directing. “I thought, ‘Well, OK. Take a deep breath.’ It turned out great, though. It was really fun to have that challenge.”
Goldwyn had a sense it would be coming from the start. “When Shonda Rhimes cast me in the show, she and [fellow executive producer] Betsy Beers asked me, ‘Would you want to direct sometime?’ I said, ‘I’d love to.’ Then, Shonda said, ‘Let’s get through the first season and just focus on your playing Fitz.’ And then she asked me to direct Episode 20 of Season 2, so it was always kind of in the plan.
“That’s how Shonda and I had met,” adds Goldwyn, “because I had directed one of the early ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ episodes. With this, it was a completely unique experience for me to be part of the company already and just switch hats, and to already have a close relationship with the cast and crew and everybody. It was extra-special that way.”
Interestingly, the only cast member Goldwyn had guided before was his on-screen wife. “I had directed Bellamy Young on ‘Dirty Sexy Money,’ but for everyone else, it was the first time. And it was just great. We have a mutual trust and a common language, and it was pretty seamless. They teased me a lot, but I think everyone had a pretty good time.”
A member of a legendary Hollywood family — his grandfathers were Samuel Goldwyn, the middle person in the name of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio, and Oscar-winning “Gone With the Wind” screenwriter Sidney Howard — Goldwyn shared the room with the real president, and a couple thousand other people, at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner last Saturday (April 27).
Also working on the movie version of Veronica Roth‘s best seller “Divergent,” Goldwyn doesn’t mind being in the hands of another director, as he has been in such movies as “Ghost” and “Kiss the Girls.” He knows the special demands, though, of literally calling the shots on a series that has established a particular look and feel; he’s also done it on “Dexter” (of which his brother John is an executive producer) and “Justified.”
“You have to adapt your instincts to the style of the show,” Goldwyn confirms, “and that’s particularly true of ‘Scandal.’ When I’m acting in the show, I really forget all of that. I don’t think about what’s happening visually, so I had to make sure I was up to speed and thinking in that way.
“Oliver Bokelberg, our director of photography, was incredibly helpful as was Tom Verica. He’s our producing director and also a great actor himself. I also realized, as is always the case with great writing, that the visual style is embedded in that. The scene kind of tells you what it wants, so it was actually very easy for me to decide what the camera should be doing.”