Henry Ian Cusick teases SCANDAL

Henry Ian Cusick has long been a favorite of ours at My Take On TV. “The Constant” episode of LOST will remain in my top 10 episodes of TV forever.  These days, he’s back on TV on a weekly basis, as one of the stars on ABC’s new hit SCANDAL, the strong and surprising drama about “fixers” in Washington, D.C.

On tonight’s all new episode, the team tries to help a millionaire’s son (played by Michael Cassidy) after he’s accused of rape, and Olivia officially moves forward with Amanda Tanner’s (Liza Weil) case.  To get us all ready for what sounds like an intense run of episodes, Ian and I had a chance to chat about what it was about Stephen Finch (his character) and this show that made him want to hop on board, along with why he thinks people will be dying for more at the end of the season!

Congratulations on the early success of the show!
Thank you!

What was it about Stephen or about SCANDAL in general that really interested you?
When I got involved in the show, all you read is the pilot. And I read the pilot, and it had Shonda Rhimes attached, and Kerry Washington. That in itself is good enough. I read the pilot, and I liked it. There’s a line in it, in the cloakroom scene, where I say to Olivia that I was not a good man. Or I say, I’m not a good man, or not a good guy [laughs]. Anyway! He says this line, and for me, that was the whole thing. He has an idea what a good man is, and he is obviously not achieving it, and that suddenly was the clincher. I thought, this has potential to be a really interesting character, and good storylines. I went with my gut.

SCANDAL has the very fast Shonda Rhimes dialogue that we’ve come to know from GREY’S and PRIVATE PRACTICE. So much said in such a small amount of time!
Like 75 pages an episode [laughs]!

Is it difficult to adjust, coming from a show like LOST where you’re sometimes not using words, and just using your eyes in a scene?
[laughs] Absolutely! I hadn’t spoken that fast! It’s a stylistic thing and absolutely, it was a challenge. When we first started doing it, I’m going, this is just way too fast! If you look at Quinn Perkins, Katie Lowe’s character, she speaks incredibly fast. I think it was absolutely a challenge for me, but it’s a style of the characters in that office, and I get that. It was a style, the way they speak, and it’s just accept it, go with it. It was a challenge, but I’m up for the challenge! I think it’s something that I now have under my belt. Obviously, the way I speak now, it’s nowhere near as fast [laughs], and I’m always looking for the next word, so it was a good challenge for me!

Obviously without giving anything away because it’s so different from a legal drama where you really don’t know with SCANDAL where the story will go, what can you tease for what we may see in the coming weeks for the show?
The teaser is this: all of the characters in the office are not really what they seem. Some of the reveals are going to be very dramatic. After episode 4, the whole thing, the whole show changes, jumps gears almost, sort of revs up to the highest gear, 5th gear, 6th gear. The whole show revs up towards the end, and it’s a real page turner until you get to episode 7, and there’s a final reveal on one of the characters who is not what he or she seems to be, and that’s when you really want to watch Episode 8, which hopefully we’ll get to do!

You get the sense from these characters that they’ve been working together for a while, and still know absolutely nothing about each other. How much do you think Stephen does know about Olivia and her relationship with the President?
[laughs] He knows that she used to work at the White House and he may or may not know some other things, and you’ll find that out later. I know what you mean about that sense! I think that’s what happens in these shows. Not only are we as actors discovering our own characters, we’re trying to discover how we interact with the other characters in the office and what our history and what our relationships are. I can understand why you say that. We haven’t been working together as long as you think we might have. How long is long? [laughs] You’ll see an episode that goes back in time, and you’ll see how long we’ve been together!

Why do you think that this is a show that people are finding or can relate to?
I think Shonda knows her audience pretty well. She’s very experienced at what she does, and with the success of GREY’S ANATOMY and PRIVATE PRACTICE, she knows exactly who she’s writing for, and she’s targeting that audience, and hopefully, the show’s appeal will take them along to the conclusion of this little sort of, miniseries, and I think we’ll get another season out of it. It’s after episode 4 that the show really turns, really changes.

The show seems like once we get to that point, and even now, after just a few episodes, we’re going to be clamoring for a second season.
I hope so! I can honestly say that after episode 7, you are definitely going to want Episode 8. I certainly want to see Episode 8. I hope she writes it whether we get to do it or not; I certainly want to get some answers!

For more information on SCANDAL head over to ABC.com.  SCANDAL airs Thursdays on ABC, at 10/9c after GREY’S ANATOMY.