Could 'Scandal' Feature the First Openly Gay President?

Jeff Perry talks with THR about Cyrus' arc this season amid the presidential-assassination storyline.
Nicole Wilder/ABC

[This story contains spoilers from Thursday's Scandal.]

Scandal star Jeff Perry never thought his character, Cyrus Beene, was the one who had President-elect Frankie Vargas assassinated in the show's shocking season-six premiere. Perhaps it's because he's grown so close to the character over the past six years, but still: He tells The Hollywood Reporter that, just as Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and company learned at the end of Thursday's episode, Cyrus is not the man who put the assassination plot into action.

"I think I was positive: No, I didn't do it. That might have been character self-protection because I really do believe Cyrus loved Frankie," said Perry.

But, of course, he understands why Olivia thought he did. "I think Cyrus is realistic enough to put himself in their shoes enough to go, 'Yeah, I get why you think I would do it, but you're ignoring the fact that I loved this man, I revered this man.' It's something Cyrus has never articulated, but I use as fuel," revealed Perry.

While, thanks to a good old-fashioned Scandal cliff-hanger, Cyrus doesn't yet know that Olivia Pope & Associates discovered Tom's true whereabouts at the time of Frankie's murder, Perry suspects that Olivia will do the right thing and get to the bottom of it all.

"Our writers, we affectionately call them the professional surprisers," Perry joked before positing what he thinks will happen. "This is just all speculation," he clarified, adding, "I assume that somehow Cyrus is going to find a way to be freed, that Olivia's team is going to help with that, and there's a lot of, what can these relationships be now? What will Cyrus and Olivia be? What will Cyrus and Fitz be? What will Cyrus and Michael be? What will Cyrus and Tom be? That's still kind of fraught."

Plus, there's the fact that Cyrus typically takes a scorched-earth approach when he's wronged. "How capable is Cyrus of full forgiveness? That's a great question! I wonder," said Perry. "It's such an interesting speculation because, how much can Cyrus change from having come this near to his comeuppance and death? As Olivia puts it in that phone call, finally, Cyrus, the bill has to be paid, and the bill might not be Frankie Vargas — it might be the seven other heinous things that he's done. So Cyrus is cognizant of that, and yet there's part of him [that wonders], you were ready to kill me? So I don't know the answer to that, but I would guess that there would be an attempt at full forgiveness and that Cyrus would fall short of that."

And then there's the most important question of all: After everything that's happened in just four episodes this season, could Cyrus still become president? "I think there is still a chance, yeah," said Perry. "And I was reminded by someone, gosh, if that happens, he'd be our first gay president!"

Scandal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.