'Scandal's' Tony Goldwyn: Fitz Is In For a 'Rough Wake-Up Call'

"Olivia is the woman that Fitz needs to be with as a partner, lover and soul mate. That's never going to change and that hasn't changed, but Mellie is Fitz's family," the actor tells THR after the season three finale.
ABC/Ron Tom

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season three finale, "The Price of Free and Fair Election," of ABC's Scandal.]

President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) has been re-elected for a second term on ABC's Scandal, but it came at an incredibly high price during Thursday's season three finale.

Olivia (Kerry Washington) effectively asks Rowan (Joe Morton) to help get Fitz re-elected after Sally (Kate Burton) uses the explosion in her favor. Rowan has Tom, a member of the White House Secret Service, poison the Grants' eldest son, Jerry Jr.

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It all comes after an action-packed episode that included Fitz learning that his father raped Mellie (Bellamy Young), who remained silent and stood by her man all in the name of furthering his political career.

Olivia, meanwhile, heads off with Jake (Scott Foley) to stand in the sun after she recognizes that she is the problem that most needs fixing, as everyone's drama can be traced back to her. Meanwhile, Rowan delivers news that Marie Wallace (Khandi Alexander), Olivia's mother, was behind Jerry Jr.'s death, and tells Fitz that she's been killed. The move earns Rowan his former job as B613 Command, only he's keeping his estranged (terrorist) wife in the trusted B613 hole and has Harrison (Columbus Short), the only one to figure out just what happened, at gunpoint.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Goldwyn to get his thoughts on whether losing a child and learning Mellie's secret could bring them closer together, how Fitz might respond to news of Olivia's departure -- with Jake -- and more.

Fitz won the election but still had this big breakdown at the end of the episode. Do you think he feels it was all worth it?

No way. You don't recover from that. That episode was so difficult for me as an actor because it's my worst nightmare. To have to go there as a father, the reality of losing a child is just devastating. Add to it the fact that Jerry was murdered, the only thing that is left for Fitz in this kind of a situation -- when you're gutted in this way, work can save your life. I imagine Fitz will be able to throw himself back into his work and that may have a healing affect to some degree.

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How much do you know about season four? Will there be a time jump?

I have no clue! I don't know how much of a clue [showrunner] Shonda [Rhimes] has. We learn as we go, and we've all learned to love that. I can't imagine what's going to happen. I don't know if we're going to be with Olivia and Jake on an island somewhere (laughs). Maybe Kerry and Scott get some fabulous vacation in Tahiti!

What would Fitz have said to Olivia had she answered the phone when Mellie called as she's on the plane with Jake?

I don't think Fitz could speak to her. It's interesting that Mellie called for him. What happened, at least our intention was, Fitz says, "Where's Olivia?" and Mellie took Fitz's cell phone and called Olivia. Fitz would have said, "Where are you?" That was such a complicated moment for me and Bellamy and [director] Tom Verica, too, because Fitz saying, "Where's Olivia?" at that moment when Mellie is on her knees beside him could have been interpreted or expressed in so many different ways, and in so many ways that would not have been helpful. If it was Fitz rejecting Mellie and saying, "Yeah, right, you're there by my side, but I want my girl." That wouldn't have been right. What Fitz was saying was this truth between he and Mellie about Olivia. She's the person that he loves, but she's also the person they need to fix things and to handle this. Olivia is necessary and essential to them in so many ways [including] to Fitz personally, and Mellie acknowledges that by calling Olivia herself. Mellie says to Fitz, "You have to get up, accept this win, and get up on your feet and make this speech and be the president." And Fitz says, "Where's Olivia?" -- but Olivia is an essential component in that. It was not about talking to Olivia; his expectation is that she's got to get in there. The fact that Olivia is saying, "Fitz, I'm leaving and I can't do this anymore and I'm out of here. And I'm with Jake and I'm going away," I can't even imagine what he would say about that.

Do you think Fitz would have gone after Olivia had he known she was leaving?

In more of his right mind, he would have fought her tooth and nail. He would have said to her, "You do not want to do this. This isn't who you are. Jake is not the man you want. What are you doing?" It's like what Abby (Darby Stanchfield) said to her, "You don't run away. No. You can't." I think he would have fought. In his current state of despair, I don't know if he would have had the muscles to do that. I guess he would have. Honestly, I think Mellie would have said the same thing to her or have just said, "You're a traitor."

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How do you think Fitz and Mellie's marriage will be different now that he knows the price she paid to support his political career and they've both experienced the loss of a child?

They have to take care of each other; they're family. The necessity of Olivia in Fitz's life is never going to diminish; it's not going to go anywhere. Olivia is the woman that Fitz needs to be with as a partner, lover and soul mate. That's never going to change and that hasn't changed, but Mellie is Fitz's family. Both Fitz and Mellie are victims of Big Jerry, and he has to take care of Mellie; he loves her as his family. Now that they've shared this loss of a child, they're going to have to recover together -- and they have two other children that they have to take care of, particularly Karen (Madeline Carroll). So if Olivia had not run away -- which is insane to me -- Fitz would have tried to formulate some sort of family of them all. That's what his intention would be, to say: "Let's all live in the truth here and find our way through this, because Olivia isn't going anywhere, and I was wrong about Mellie and I need to take care of her and most importantly take care of Karen and Teddy." But now that Olivia is in the wind, I'm not sure how that's going to impact things. That's going to be a pretty rough wake-up call for Fitz.

Knowing what he knows now, do you think Fitz can survive another four years in office?

Yes. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger (laughs). That will be the thing for Fitz. Let's think about it for a second: If Olivia has disappeared, what's Fitz going to think? He's going to think she's dead or something terrible happened to her. "Where is Olivia?"

"Where is Olivia" sounds like a hashtag waiting to happen.

You're right! Let's assume that he'll find out she ran out with Jake. I don't know how he's going to find that out -- Olivia didn't leave him a note; Rowan didn't tell him. Rowan wants to destroy him. Maybe Abby or her people will tell Fitz. In any case, that's going to be really interesting in season four.

Does losing Jerry Jr. change where Fitz stands with Olivia?

Not at all. He had that very difficult scene where he tells her that Maya murdered his son, but Olivia is distraught; but that scene in the hospital waiting room, he doesn't blame her. He says to her, "You are not your mother. this is not your fault. I, more than anyone, know that we are not our parents and are not responsible for the sins of our parents." He wasn't very able to express himself, but to me, Olivia is as much a victim of her parents -- more than Fitz is of Jerry -- because her parents are so much worse. I don't see Fitz's feelings for Olivia being diminished in any way.

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How will Fitz navigate having Andrew in the White House for four years knowing that he and Mellie have feelings for one another?

That's a great question. Fitz needs to go back and look what happened with Mellie since that rape. What was Andrew's role in that? Did Andrew comfort her? Was Andrew a friend to her? How did that develop and why couldn't she tell Fitz? So Andrew became the surrogate and that evolved into something romantic. Fitz would be much more able, if not willing, to go, "OK, so what was that? I made all these assumptions about what that was." His assumptions previously were that Mellie was using him for power and she did not love him and as soon as they had a baby and she had her claws into him, she rejected him sexually and took up with Andrew, the man who Fitz had mentored and given a career. His feelings of rage and betrayal are now called into question. Fitz is going to need to look at the truth and say, "What is this?" Knowing Shonda, it's not going to be simply resolved. Fitz is going to have to question his assumptions about Andrew and Mellie.

Rowan was actually the one behind the death of Jerry Jr. and has been reappointed to B613. Why would Fitz put him back in this position after everything?

Because Fitz thinks Maya Pope (aka Marie Wallace) killed Jerry Jr. and Rowan stepped up, and as father to father even though these guys hate each other, stepped in and delivered Maya's head on a platter when no one else could. He owes Rowan. It's like a blood debt; that's really what it is. Fitz has been manipulated by Rowan. In a matter of hours, Rowan found Maya and had her killed, and put this whole thing to rest. Think about this: Maya Pope, from Operation Remington on, was the agent of all of this death and destruction. They let her get out of the country before. Rowan and Fitz are unwilling allies in this and they're both fathers. Rowan did that for Fitz in Fitz's mind, and he has earned that position back.

What kind of reaction do you think Fitz would have if he knew Rowan was behind the death of Jerry Jr. -- and it was because Olivia effectively asked him to help Fitz's win the election?

I don't interpret it quite like that from Rowan's perspective, because Rowan, as he tells Harrison: "He took my child; I took his child." That to me, was Rowan's motivation. I think it's bullshit when he says he was trying to help Olivia by having Fitz win. The only thing he promised Olivia that was true was that he would not hurt Fitz personally; he would not harm a hair on his head. If Fitz finds this out, I don't think he'll blame Olivia in any way. It's not like Defiance. I think he will make it his life's mission to destroy Rowan. If it were me, I'd put everything at risk to destroy him. Olivia is a victim of her parents, not an agent of them. If she is an agent of them, it's not her fault, and I don't think Fitz would blame Olivia for that.

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Can you say about Harrison's fate?

I have no clue. I was as shocked as you were. We don't know and I don't think Shonda knows.

Is there anything specific on your wish list for Fitz in season four?

I can't wait to see where it goes. I have no aspirations at all. This season has been such interesting contrast for Fitz. If you think about it the last three episodes, the audience was really turned off to Fitz. He became a very negative character for a moment there and Shonda redeemed him in this finale, where you just want to protect Fitz. Shonda, where she ennobles him after all of his rather bad behavior -- even though I understand where he was coming from -- she does this great thing where she creates this contrast. If I have any hope for season four, it's that that continues and amplifies in the way that Shonda has done every season.

What are your hopes for Fitz in Scandal's fourth season? Hit the comments below with your thoughts.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit