Olivia’s Tender Moment With Huck
Episode 19: ‘Seven Fifty-Two’
One of my favorite scenes was with Guillermo Diaz (Huck), the final monologue in “Seven Fifty-Two.” It’s the “we both live on the dark side of the moon” scene, which now, in light of what I’m learning in Season 3, is even more shocking. Now I understand what that means even more than I did then. That whole episode is so special, and that scene with Guillermo, in particular, is uniquely meaningful. Guillermo’s performance in the entire episode, and especially in that scene, is powerful and heartbreaking.
Olivia and Fitz’s Phone Calls
Episode 2: ‘The Other Woman’
It’s so hard to choose my favorite scenes with Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) because Tony and I have so many amazing scenes together, but our phone calls always hold a very special place for me. We always try to come to work for each other for phone calls or actually be live on the phone because those scenes are really tough. We don’t like to put each other in the position of having to imagine the other person’s performance. I’ve had scenes at 10 o’clock at night in California and Tony’s at home in Connecticut at 1 o’clock in the morning and on the phone with me. If Tony’s on the Oval Office stage, there have been days when I’m not working at all and come to set to hide behind the couch in the Oval Office so we can do the scenes together. Those telephone scenes are such a reminder of how dedicated we are to each other as actors.
Olivia and Fitz Visit the Constitution
Episode 8: 'Happy Birthday, Mr. President'
The “You own me, you control me, I belong to you…” monologue in “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” was a great monologue, and Tony kills it. I love that scene. I also love the Constitution scene in that episode. It’s the first time we see Olivia tell Fitz that she loves him. That scene is such a great window into how much they both love their country and what they are fighting for with Fitz’s presidency. We also learn a lot about their relationship, their mutual love and respect for each other. We actually shot that on Election Night. It’s kind of crazy!
‘…You’ve Called Me a Whore, an Idiot, and a Liar’
Episode 11: ‘A Criminal, a Whore, an Idiot, and a Liar’
I loved the opening of this episode and especially that monologue. I just feel like every week we are handed a gift from the writers, and the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 monologue was really fun, quintessential Olivia Pope. Norm Lewis (Sen. Edison Davis) is such a joy to work with. I love that there’s this moment in that when he calls her out on her attitude, and with an attitude she says, “I don’t have an attitude!”
Olivia Kisses Jake Goodbye
Episode 22: ‘White Hat’s Back On’
I just love working with Scott Foley (Jake). A lot of our scenes are very challenging. We had such a hard time with the scene we shot in the season finale in my office where I kiss him goodbye. Many of our scenes are about decoding their subtext with each other because they’re so guarded but they care so much about each other. I just remember that he and I were banging our heads against the wall when we were shooting that scene. We wanted to honor Shonda [Rhimes]’s writing, we wanted to get it right, but the scene was so complicated. I saw the footage before he did, and I told him, “It works, Scott!” He didn’t believe me but I insisted it worked. And then, when he saw it, he agreed.
Rowan Is Olivia’s Father
Episode 22: ‘White Hat’s Back On’
I was shocked. I read the word “dad” for the first time at the table read with the whole cast and I almost couldn’t get the word out because I was so shocked. Shonda knew, as did Joe Morton, but they didn’t tell the rest of the cast, which was great. That scene was really fun to shoot because we didn’t know what the relationship between Olivia and her father was, so we did it 20 different ways. I was really curious to see which take Shonda would choose because that would tell us something about the dynamic between them.
The Gladiators’ Monologues in ‘Seven Fifty-Two’
Episode 19: ‘Seven Fifty-Two’
Some of my favorite scenes are the scenes that I’m not in. They’re much easier to watch for me! Jeff Perry and Bellamy Young are consistently brilliant and inspiring. I also love all the Gladiator monologues in “Seven Fifty-Two.” That episode to me was like a great jazz concert, where you have a beautiful song being played, then the saxophone player steps forward and does this incredible solo; for example, Katie Lowes’s (Quinn Perkins) monologue, which happened entirely in one take. Once she’s done, there’s another solo, and it’s Darby (Stanchfield, who plays Abby Whelan), and then another solo, and it’s Columbus (Short, who plays Harrison Wright). You have these epic standout performances in the midst of a magnificent episode. I loved that all of the Gladiators really got a chance to dance in that episode.
‘Stolen Moments Aren’t a Life’
Episode 15: ‘Boom Goes the Dynamite’
I loved that episode and that monologue because even though she’s fixing a situation for the client, in that moment, she’s really talking about herself. Also, that dress Olivia was wearing…That dress was Escada and I loved it. There’s just so much great fashion on the show. Lyn Paolo, our costume designer, and I work very hard on that part of the show to make it groundbreaking and provocative and elegant, but still true to the story. Olivia is a person who really understands how much appearance affects perception. So the way she dresses isn’t just about being fabulous, it’s about the presentation of herself in the world, which is why she takes it so seriously.
Olivia’s Breakdown in the Closet
Episode 8: ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President’
The closet scene in “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” will always hold a special place for me. Discovering the Navy sweatshirt. It’s such a complicated scene with no words. There’s so much happening in that one little scene, you know? That’s a special one for me. We really get to see both sides of Olivia. She comes in there as fierce and fearless Olivia Pope, who’s bravely going to collect clothes for the first lady in a crisis situation, but she quickly crumbles into the vulnerable part of herself. Then she pulls it all together, because she has to.
As told to Kevin Fallon.