'Scandal' Cast (and Shonda Rhimes) Talk Crazy Quinn Theories and Challenges Ahead

The Grants' daughter, Cyrus' lovechild, the vice president's child and Tammy Faye Bakker's kin? The cast of ABC's D.C.-set fixer drama shares the most outlandish guesses they've heard and tease what's ahead in season two.

It's been four months since Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) revealed that Quinn Perkins wasn't who she claimed to be on ABC's Scandal and everyone has a theory on just who the newbie fixer really is.

Since Katie Lowes' mysterious alter-ego became a client at Pope & Associates, the cast has heard everything from the logical -- Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) and Mellie's (Bellamy Young) daughter -- to the insane -- Tammy Faye Bakker's kid -- as friends, family and acquaintances made their best guesses.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up the cast and showrunner Shonda Rhimes on Tuesday at the Paley Center's fall previews to talk season two challenges and hear the best and most bizarre theories on who "Quinn" -- yes, we're using air quotes -- really is.

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Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington)
Crazy Theory: "I heard a theory that she was Cyrus' daughter that he wasn't gay and said so only to get the gay vote but that really he was straight and Quinn was his lovechild from his straight love of his life," Washington says with a laugh. "All the crazy ideas I would send to Shonda and she was like, 'It's handled!' "
Biggest Challenge: "We're shooting Episode 5 and the biggest challenges for Olivia are just brewing. In many different areas of her life, the biggest challenges for her are only just being cooked up."

President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn)
Crazy Theory: "Most people think she's in the witness protection program, which isn't really true."
Biggest Challenge: After Olivia turns in her White House credentials in the season finale, Fitz won't rest until he's able to bring her back into the fold -- and around the Oval Office again. "No matter how hard she tries -- and she will try hard -- Fitz is a persistent guy. Fitz and Olivia can't be easily kept apart," says Goldwyn, who's currently juggling filming his AMC pilot with Scandal and is optimistic he won't have to miss any episodes.

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First lady Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young)
Crazy Theory: "Tammy Faye Bakker's daughter. Something had to happen to Tammy Faye Bakker to her legacy -- and her mascara -- alive!"
Biggest Challenge: Young says Mellie has lofty goals and will use her position in the White House to get what she wants -- no matter the cost. "Mellie has her eyes on the long game; every opportunity that arises, Mellie can optimize for herself," the new series regular notes. "It's been interesting to see script by script, her take on what ever the issue is at hand. She always stirs it up and she always, to her credit, pulls out the win."

Chief of Staff Cyrus (Jeff Perry)
Crazy Theory: "Quinn is the lovechild of Cyrus and Oliva, that was a crazy one!"
Biggest Challenge: Keeping a lovesick president focused on the job -- and dealing with his overzealous wife will be front and center for the duplicitous Cyrus this season, Perry offers. "Keeping Fitz on task, he's having a really hard time mentally and emotionally with trying to say goodbye to Olivia," he says. "There's such pervasive care-giving that my character is supposed to do, and as we know the first lady is capable of going rogue with her impulses of how to fix things and dealing directly with the press."

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Harrison (Columbus Short)
Crazy Theory: "Quinn Perkins is the vice president's (Kate Burton) daughter. That's my theory and I think it's the most outlandish theory. I've also heard that she's ex-CIA, like she's Salt, basically."
Biggest Challenge: "Having Olivia's back blindly is going to be Harrison's biggest moral quest this season," Short warns. "Harrison is evolving into a leader, almost rogue, and that will be a challenge for him to stay loyal but also stay true to himself."

Huck (Guillermo Diaz)
Crazy Theory: "My parents thought that Quinn Perkins was Mellie and Fitz's daughter. I was poker faced and just said that anything was possible!"
Biggest Challenge: Diaz, who instills fear with a simple furrowed brow, notes that Huck won't be able to keep his dark (and violent) past tucked away for long. "Huck now is starting to realize that he has to do something about his PTSD," Diaz previews.

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Abby (Darby Stanchfield)
Crazy Theory: "Just the idea that she's related to somebody in the White House, I think that's a pretty funny theory; that she's Cyrus' daughter or niece."
Biggest Challenge: The most outspoken of all the Gladiators, Stanchfield notes that her character will have a hard time being stuck between what she wants to know but doesn't. "The office politics are a very gray area and Abby is very black and white and this season is her navigating through gray waters; it's a real tough year for Abby," she warns.

Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes)
Crazy Theory: "The craziest theory I heard was that Quinn Perkins was Amanda Tanner. I think it's crazy simply because it just doesn't make any sense! People's brains were so blown that they're willing to go to a dead girl and say that that's who I am. I got that and a ton of the president's daughter, Cyrus' daughter and a bunch of witness protection guesses. And it's none of those things and everybody is wrong. I think they'll be really shocked but also stumped again because this show moves at such a fast pace that as soon as they find out who I am, they're already on to the next question."
Biggest Challenge: Once Quinn's identity is revealed -- and it will be before the opening credits even roll -- the newest Gladiator will have a hard time picking up the pieces from the fallout over her identity, Lowes says. "Quinn's biggest challenge this season is getting people to trust her again," she notes.

Shonda Rhimes, showrunner
Crazy Theory: "She's the president's illegitimate daughter, that was a lot of what I heard. Someone told me she was Cyrus' illegitimate daughter, which I thought was really interesting because I don't think Cyrus sleeps with women. There's a very interesting dynamic out there."

Scandal premieres Thursday, Sept. 27 at 10 p.m. on ABC.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit