SCANDAL’s Darby Stanchfield teases Meredith’s return to CASTLE
It’s hard to believe that we’ve only seen Darby Stanchfield’s Meredith one time before on CASTLE – she’s made such a strong impression on fans that you would think she’s been on for years as a constant wall in the way of a Castle and Beckett happy-ever-after! Tonight, the character we’ve loved to hate in absentia is back to take care Alexis when Mono strikes. But she’s not the only one moving in. Trouble at Beckett’s apartment finds her moving in, too, and before long the loft is a bit too close for comfort!
I spent some time chatting with Darby about the fun of playing Meredith and what living with Castle and his girlfriend is like. And don’t worry, Gladiators – of course we found time to chat about what’s coming up for Darby’s SCANDAL alter-ego, by-the-book Abby, and where the show is going next!
It has to be fun to play a character like Meredith who can just pop in at inopportune moments for Castle.
What brings her back this time, and what can we expect in this episode?
[laughs] Well, outwardly, to the world, she comes back because Alexis has mono and she’s there to be a good mother and take care of her. But we all know that Meredith is not a good mother, so she has other intentions. She’s got a whole other agenda in mind. And of course, it has to do with Beckett and Castle and that’s about all I can say [laughs].
Meredith, unlike a lot of Rick’s other exes, will always be around because of Alexis, as a constant thorn of the side. It’s fun to see you and Nathan play that contentious “ex” relationship. Is it a lot of fun on set?
Oh sure! He’s a great guy. He’s naturally a funny person. We always have a good time together. I worked with him on WAITRESS in 2006, so it seems like I see him every couple of years for one reason or another! We all had a great time. It feel almost like no time had passed. Meredith is really just the same, and nothing has changed with Meredith, except she was just gone for a little while. In Paris, or shopping or filming another movie, or something, or all of the above. We had a really good time!
It sounds like in this episode, everyone will be sort of confined to the same location, all in Castle’s loft. How does Meredith and Kate get on – what is their interaction like?
Well the fact that they’re under the same roof, they get more time together than the last time you saw them. It’s great [laughs]; there are definitely territory issues. The world is Meredith’s oyster. She is always winning in her own mind, whether she’s winning or not. [laughs] That will grate on Kate; that will really grate against her. They’re such different women! Meredith – one choice that I had fun doing this time was any moment I had to put my hands all over Castle, I did, because she’s familiar, she’s super familiar with her ex-husband. They had this relationship where they could have sex at any time, Meredith has no rules; she just wants to have fun. There are all kinds of visual things. I mean, the look on Beckett’s face in most of the episode is priceless!
Being a part of the show, are you a fan of the show as well as being a part of its world?
I am a fan of the show. I do not watch it every week; I watch very little TV. I catch an episode now and again, and I’m very aware of their success and their ratings, and the fan base. I’m really, really happy for them. It’s delightful to be an extended part of that family. I love the “deep friend Twinkie” Meredith character. It’s so much fun.
You mention that Meredith has no rules, and she does what she wants. But you’re now playing a character over on SCANDAL that is so completely opposite of that! How do you approach the difference in playing these disparate characters?
I don’t know that I could describe it. It’s great, a lot of it starts with the writing. They’re written so different, so that helps. They both, I feel like I can tap into them quite naturally. I feel like I know these women really instinctually, both of them. Meredith, I had to watch the episode from 2009 because I wanted to get right back into it. Their speech patterns are very different; Meredith has a very sing-songy voice, and her register is higher. And when she cries, she’s not really crying; she’s fake crying. When Abby cries, she’s really crying, because the world, you know, sucks. [laughs] There are a lot of differences.
Everywhere I turn, I feel like a new SCANDAL fan is popping up, and the fan base is really growing. What has been the reaction of fans when they talk to you?
It’s so much fun, and delightful, and exciting. When I meet a SCANDAL fan, and I’ve met a lot of SCANDAL fans on this holiday hiatus, I’m actually surprised how much I’m being recognized, which goes to show that people are really watching the show. People will come up to me, and they’ll start talking to me like I’m Abby. There is no separation that like, I’m an actor playing Abby? I’ll get that I need to start trusting Olivia more, and I need to stop sleeping with that David guy [laughs]. What I need to do, and how I need to be helping. People pressing with lots of questions about what happens next, is Fitz going to wake up? What the Huck? Is he going to get saved? Just the general passion, the way that people react, their excitement for the show, and how invested they are in the characters? As actors, we love it. I love telling stories, so it’s really rewarding to be telling a story that people are really interested in and entertained by.
SCANDAL is of course something you need to keep close to the vest when you talk about it, but what can you tease for what we’ll see when it returns this week?
Well, this next episode is very action packed. A lot happens. It’s not one of those episodes, and I don’t know that SCANDAL ever is, that sets up the next sort of bit of action. A lot unfolds. Huck’s been taken under the patriot act, so there’s some really intense, dramatic, scandalous stuff that happens there. I know there’s a teaser out where it shows him being tortured, but what surrounds that, the storyline that surrounds that, and who is involved, is just as interesting as what actually happens to him. And then of course, there’s a whole thing with Fitz; there is more that happens there, and SCANDAL fans are just going to go nuts. It’s just great!
Does Abby truly have feelings for David?
Oh absolutely! Absolutely. I don’t think she would have gone back to his apartment; when she found out that he supposedly beat other women, she said if you touch me again, I’ll kill you. She wouldn’t have gone back there if she didn’t have feelings. She is maybe very confused, confused about what she’s been told. Super angry and has issues, and went back to maybe test him. There are so many possibilities about what that could be, and I really try to fit all of them in, instead of playing one thing. It was really, after many conversations with Shonda, played as much as I could, many things, but I definitely think Abby – he’s a good guy, and she’s never, ever found a good guy. Of course, now she thinks he’s a bad guy, but she’s had some time where he was a good guy. She really loves that!
CASTLE airs Mondays at 10/9c on ABC – all new episodes start tonight with “Significant Others.” For more, head to ABC.com.SCANDAL airs Thursdays at 10/9c on ABC – all new episodes return Thursday, 1/10. For more, head to ABC.com.