'Scandal' Case Study: Guillermo Diaz on Huck's Tormented Past
"He's a completely different person now," the actor tells THR in our weekly postmortem.
[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the "Seven Fifty-Two" episode of Scandal.]
ABC's Scandal delivered one of its most gripping episodes to date Thursday with an hour that not only shed the light on Huck's tortured back story but also saw revealed who Jake' is working for. As Shonda Rhimes' fast-paced political thriller marches toward its May 16 season finale, Mellie also upped the stakes with Fitz, giving the president an ultimatum of epic proportions.
But it was Guillermo Diaz who shined brightest during the heartbreaking hour as we see how Olivia not only met Huck but how she helps pull him out of the shock he's left in after being locked in a crate and left for dead.
Muttering "752" as each of the Gladiators does their part to pull him out of it, flashbacks reveal that Huck was a former Marine recruited by the government's mysterious and violent B613 organization, where he's put to work torturing those deemed a threat to the country. The catch: the former foster child is forced to lie about his personal relationships -- including Kim (Jasika Nicole), the woman who would become his wife and mother of his son.
In addition, we learn why Huck never killed Cyrus' hitman Charlie (George Newbern). Turns out Huck's former B613 colleague saved his life and lied about his death when he was assigned to terminate the new father following his release from an underground cage until he could forget about his wife and son.
On top of everything else, Mellie (Bellamy Young) tells Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) that she's moving out and he only has so much time to finally pick his family over Olivia (Kerry Washington) before she tells the press about his cheating ways and ruins any hopes of his re-election.
Things get even more interesting when Jake's boss (played by Terminator 2's Joe Morton) is seen in Huck's flashback -- as the head of B613, revealing that the guy "keeping an eye" on Olivia for Fitz is connected to the brutal organization behind Huck's torture.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with the Emmy-worthy Diaz to breakdown the episode in our weekly Scandal Case Study and preview what's next for Huck: Is a search for his family in the cards?
The Hollywood Reporter: What was it like filming this episode?
Guillermo Diaz: I knew all the dark places I had to go to and I was down a lot and It was really difficult. I was down a lot and depressed while shooting the episode and would go home and there were nights I couldn't sleep. My body automatically put itself in this kind of state that Huck was in. It was something I had to go through; it's the only way I would have been able to do this episode. I'm really proud of the end result and my performance. It wasn't only playing Huck's sad moments -- I was playing really happy Huck, too. Sometimes in the same day, I had to be happy Huck in the past and two hours later I was homeless Huck doing that scene where he first sees his kid and his wife in front of him in the train station. It was hard to go back and forth, I was a hot mess shooting that episode (laughs). And in the middle of it, Jasika baked me a whole tray of homemade of cookies for my birthday since I celebrated my 42nd on the day that I had to shoot Huck breaking down as he wraps the guy in plastic and breaks down and starts crying.
THR: What was your first response when you heard Huck was married and had a son?
Diaz: My first reaction was: How wonderful for the fans to get to experience this episode. When we read, it we were over the moon about it and so excited and happy that the story was revealing so much about Huck.
THR: What was going through your mind as you chanted "752" repeatedly?
Diaz: I was thinking of my own personal struggles that I've been through, sad things that have happened to me. We shot all the 752 stuff with me in the corner over three days. I went to all the dark places I've unfortunately been to in my life. It was a hard few days to shoot that sequence. I didn't have to go into my own stuff that much -- I had to think about Huck and the things he's gone through. I remember shooting the scene with Kerry at the end when they're all trying to snap Huck out of his craziness and Huck tells her he don't remember if he had a family or not -- I cried every single time during that scene, and so did Kerry. The material was so rich that I didn't have to do much to get there.
THR: Leave it to Shonda Rhimes to cast two openly gay actors to play a married heterosexual couple. Was that something you and Jasika discussed?
Diaz: I love it! The director that episode, Allison Liddi-Brown, was gay, too! I talked about it with Allison when we wrapped and told her because I didn't think she knew Jasika was openly gay or if I was openly gay. She teared up and we hugged each other. It's was such a great treat and people are going to see what a special, unique piece of television it is. And the fact that two gay people were leads in the episode and our director was gay? How great is that. It was a great little cherry on top.
THR: What condition will Huck be in when we see him next?
Diaz: He's definitely not going to be the same. He's a bit more broken but going through what he went through in "Seven Fifty-Two." After all the Gladiators told him what they think of him, that also healed him in a small way. He might be a bit more broken but he's also a bit more healed at the same time. There's a stronger connection between Huck and everyone in the office -- Abby, Harrison, Quinn and Olivia. When you go through something really big like this with someone, it brings you closer. It was cathartic for Huck at the same time it was so difficult. He's changed for the worse a bit but even more for the better.
THR: Now that Huck has realized he has a family, might we see him begin to look for them?
Diaz: I would love to see that. I can't imagine Huck being the person that he his that he's not going to try and find them and have a connection with them. He's the type of guy that once he gets something in his head, he's going to get it done and take care of it.
THR: How will Huck's realization that he has his own family change who he is considering he's he's been looking for a new pseudo family?
Diaz: It's going to be really difficult because he's a completely different person now. I would hope if he did find his real family that there would be some acceptance from his wife and child. Who knows what relationships his wife is in now; is Kim in a relationship and married with other kids? It's so complicated. It could either go really well and they'll hug, kiss, cry, love each other and live happily every after or it's going to be extremely complicated.
THR: We learn that 752 was the time his wife and son's train arrived. Will he share what that means with the rest of the Gladiators?
Diaz: I don't think he will. If he did, it would be with Olivia and I don't know if he'd do that anytime soon. I think he'll keep that to himself. He might still have a bit of embarrassment about being that homeless man in the subway and that might be giving away a little too much of himself.
THR: Knowing it was Charlie who did this to him, how might we see Huck go after him -- either for retribution for locking him in a crate or for information about his wife and son?
Diaz: Huck is going to be really smart about it. He's not going to do anything hasty. I hope he doesn't kill him right away. I don't think that's where Huck's headspace is. He'll be methodical and think before he does anything too drastic. You keep your enemies closer -- he's going to be real calm about the whole thing and figure it out little by little in terms of what he needs to do.
THR: We learned why Huck didn't kill Charlie last year when he had the chance: He owes him his life and Charlie has threatened to kill Kim and her son. How many chances is Huck going to give Charlie?
Diaz: Huck doesn't want to be a killer anymore. He doesn't want to be that guy and that's one of the main reasons why Charlie is still alive. Huck knows if he does kill Charlie, even though it's him and he's done all these terrible things to Huck, Huck killing Charlie would make Huck take 50 steps back. Huck is trying to move forward and killing Charlie would make him go down that road again mentally and emotionally and he doesn't want to go there.
THR: We learned that there's no getting out of B613, the branch of government that enlisted and ended Huck's life as he knew it. But Charlie seems to have gotten out.
Diaz: You never stop working for B613; you either die, are killed or are with them. Charlie is on the down-low right now. He's just as vulnerable as anyone who has defected from B613. Charlie isn't safe, either, from the big guys from command.
THR: B613 is attempting to flush out who the real mole is -- might Huck cross paths with his former employer as OPA investigates the same?
Diaz: I don't know if that's going to happen but I'd love to see that happen.
THR: Jake is working for B613, the same organization that formerly employed Charlie and who tortured Huck. How will Huck work with Olivia to investigate who Jake really is?
Diaz: Very carefully. Huck has a lot of information but he keeps it very close to the vest. He respects Olivia and doesn't want to overstep himself. It's going to be tricky to help her with that. Huck also knows that Olivia has taken a liking to Jake. It's going to be interesting to see how they figure all that out.
THR: Is Huck safe considering Charlie lied to B613 about killing him?
Diaz: I don't think Huck is safe, either. He's in just as much danger as Charlie is; they're constantly watching their backs.
THR: What might Huck do if he were to come face with his old boss?
Diaz: Somebody would probably die very quickly (laughs). It wouldn't be a long scene!
THR: Any rumblings that we'll see Jasika return as Kim?
Diaz: I'd love to see her return. How could they not touch on Huck's family again, his wife and child? I really hope Shonda Rhimes brings them back. I'm really rooting for her to come back.
THR: Would Huck want to settle down?
Diaz: I'm sure he does but I don't think we're going to see him settle down with anyone anytime soon. He's really jaded now after Becky and he's going to be really careful. I don't think he's going to give himself away to anyone emotionally that quickly and I don't think he wants to right now, that's not where his head is.
What did you think of "Seven Fifty-Two"? Did Huck's backstory surprise you? Hit the comments below with your thoughts on this and Mellie's ultimatum. Scandal airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.