Scandal: Abby’s true allegiances revealed
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Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Thursday’s episode of Scandal. Read at your own risk!
Did Abby really betray everyone on Scandal in a quest for power? Well, yes and no.
Thursday’s episode of Scandal took viewers back to Election Night once again, revealing new events from Abby’s (Darby Stanchfield) point of view. In the immediate aftermath of Frankie Vargas’ (Ricardo Chavira) assassination, Abby was in shock, realizing she was partially at fault because of her own connection to this mysterious organization, which she obviously came to regret that fateful night.
Via flashback, we learn Abby was long ago approached by the organization, offering her $300 million and a future in which she could be President of the United States. Though she initially turned them down, Abby was attracted to the possibility of power — and also didn’t want to end up fly fishing and making jam in Vermont alongside Fitz (Tony Goldwyn).
Little did Abby know that by saying yes, she was drawn into the organization’s web. Either she do their bidding by locking down the hospital and replacing the bullets used to kill Frankie or they would report that the $300 million actually came from North Korea. Thus, Abby was trapped in the same way Rowan (Joe Morton) was. They even took Leo (Paul Adelstein) hostage to force her hand.
RELATED: Scandal: Before They Were Stars
Though Abby tried to turn to David Rosen (Josh Malina) for help, she discovered he was actually dating the woman (Zoe Perry) from the organization, thus her only course of action was making a deal with them: She revealed Jennifer Fields was alive (leading to this) in order to get Cyrus (Jeff Perry) out of jail. To what end? EW turned to Stanchfield to find out.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why do you think Abby initially said yes to these people? Was it just an attraction to power?
DARBY STANCHFIELD: Absolutely. It’s a very subtle surprise, it’s not a big “OMG” moment, but that probably is the deepest, most subtle surprise about Abby, the fact that she is seduced by money and power. It’s a moment of weakness for Abby — at least that’s the way I see it — in terms of her going for power. They’re tickling her ears, it’s quick and it’s easy. It’s not like she doesn’t have power. That’s what’s so fascinating about it. She’s the Chief of Staff. Fitz says early in the episode, “The possibilities for you are endless, there’s a lot you can do in this town.” So it’s not like she’s lacking possibilities. But it reveals a blindly ambitious moment for Abby.
Isn’t Abby smarter than this, though?
This is real talk: That was the hardest scene for me to shoot because that’s exactly how I feel. I really, really struggled with that question, like, “Come on! I don’t think Abby is presidential material. I play Abby and I don’t see this for Abby. So how do I find that? How do I agree to this?” Eventually, I realized that that turmoil, or that struggle, is in Abby. It’s not like Abby does anything without a struggle in this episode; everything is filled with tension — even her turning over the name of Jennifer Fields. She doesn’t say yes right away at that lunch. “Yeah, yeah, okay, this meeting was great, but you guys are kind of weird and I’m going to go,” but she has an emotional conversation with the president, she’s frustrated, and all of a sudden, it looks good. It just goes to show you that it is a moment of weakness, so it’s a moment of her being blind. The struggle of that for me, I just used it for Abby’s struggle in terms of she’s just in a lot of turmoil. As soon as she says yes, everything goes wrong. So it was just a good parallel.
How much regret does Abby have over getting involved with these people?
Oh, the regret is endless, it’s boundless. Let me tell you, that is addressed as we go further in the season, and it’s messy, it’s deep, and it’s heartbreaking.
Is there a part of Abby that wishes she was just back with OPA in that moment?
Oh, sure. Like in life, where sometimes you don’t realize what you had until you don’t have it, going forward Abby loses a lot in terms of the decision that she made, the mistakes that she made, in this episode. So, yes, yes, yes.
What does Abby plan to do now that she’s gotten Cyrus out of jail? Is that just to assuage her guilt or does she have a game plan that requires Cyrus?
Well, first of all, we don’t know that she got Cyrus out of jail because she was really stupid in the negotiations. It’s another bad move of Abby’s. “Here, you want to do a drug/money switch? Here’s the money, give me the drugs!” But she didn’t get the drugs, she just gave the money away. It was another moment of, “Come on, Abby, be a little smarter than this!” We just know that Abby gave the gold away and hasn’t gotten her end of the deal, so we’ve yet to see that. Is it part of a bigger plan? Even though we’re a few episodes ahead, I don’t know that I can fully answer that. The way they’re using time this season, jumping around playing with time, I don’t know that that question has been fully realized.
Since Meg says Huck won’t know that Abby is involved, does that indicate Huck is alive?
Um… yeah, I think so, in that moment. It’s vague for a reason. What was so interesting about that scene is Shonda came up to me at the end of last week’s episode when we find out Abby is a mole, and she’s like, “Listen, before you shoot that scene, I need the writers to get you the next script.” So I got a chance to sit down and read everything that happens in this Abby episode, which never happens because we’re at these table reads and that’s when we find everything out. This is one of those very rare instances where they let me see a little bit ahead.
So that informed how you played that scene?
Yes, it definitely informed it. We even had two directors on set that day. There have been a couple of instances this season where there’s a scene that plays in two different episodes, so there are two different directors who are giving you different sets of notes because they both need something slightly different — they might use the same take, but they might not. It’s incredibly fun and challenging this season to work on as an actor.
Let’s talk about this organization. How do you guys even refer to it? Will they get a proper name?
They have a fake name for their company that we talk about at the lunch. We know mystery woman’s name is Samantha, or maybe it’s something else; she has a couple of names. She does have a different name every time. I refer to her as Mean Girl with the Ponytail. Even meaner now that she’s with David Rosen!
How will OPA feel if they find out Abby’s involvement? It was one thing to leave for the White House, but has she gone too far now? Can she never come back?
Yes and yes. Can she come back? I still don’t know if she can come back from where we’re at, but yes, different characters find out and they all react in their own way. It’s an action that changes the nature of Abby and Olivia’s relationship and all the OPA people. It’s pretty messy going forward.
Should we be worried about Abby considering certain members of OPA are trained killers?
Yes, I’m worried. Yup, there’s been threats. We should definitely, definitely worry. I’m still worried. Quite frankly, I’m still worried, it’s not all cleaned up yet.
Is there anything you can tease for the finale? Do you know anything yet?
No, I’m dying. We have three episodes left and we don’t know. I’ll tell you why I want to know: It really does feel like, season after season, we know the president is going to be in power, most seasons we know OPA is OPA, right? That’s the structure of the show. It feels like everything is up for grabs right now. I think that’s why I’m so incredibly curious, more so than ever, which is fantastic after almost six seasons to be that curious about your own show that you’re working on. It feels like anything is possible, and it feels like maybe a bunch of rearranging is going to happen. Quite simply, the president’s second term is up. I always thought when his second term was up, that was it, the show was done. I thought this over and again with different things: If Mellie and Fitz break apart, the show’s over, because Olivia and Fitz will run off into the sunset together! Well, that theory was blown, so I can’t wait to see what happens next because it’s going to be something I could never have thought of.
After everything that’s happened this season, can everyone make it out unscathed? Or do you think there will be some fatal repercussions by season’s end?
Honestly, I think there could be some repercussions. I’ve never felt that way, but I actually feel that way this season. Somethings going to give. It’s not a happy thought. But yeah, I do.
Scandal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
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Warning, Gladiators: This article spoils the many twists and turns of Thursday’s Scandal. Proceed at your own risk…
A lot of words come to mind when Darby Stanchfield reflects on this week’s Abby-centric Scandal, but “relieved” seems to top them all.
Following last week’s revelation that Abby is the OPA mole, fans all but condemned her as a villain — only to discover that her strings are being pulled by a bigger, badder, more pony-tailed puppet master. As we learned Thursday night, the Shadowy Organization™ approached Abby during the election about her own political aspirations (#Whelan2020!), offering access to a $300 million fund to advance her position.
Of course, things took a pretty dark turn when the Shadowy Organization™ started making demands of Abby, including swapping out the bullets from Frankie Vargas’ corpse with three fakes provided by Meg. (Ugh, Meg!) We also know now why Abby was so determined to keep Fitz and David from sending Cyrus to the electric chair — and why she remains determined to free him from captivity.
“I was relieved in that it makes sense for the character and the arc,” Stanchfield tells TVLine of Abby being the mole. “For me, it’s more plausible than if we find out five-and-a-half seasons in that she’s been the axis of evil this whole time. It also makes sense how and manipulate everybody. They get under everybody‘s skin.”
Below, Stanchfield answers a few of TVLine’s burning questions from the episode, including the fate of Huck, which Stanchfield says will be revealed soon:
TVLINE | Abby seemed surprised when she was told how powerful she is. Did she really not know that?
It’s kind of like when someone says, “You don’t know how beautiful you are right now,” and it’s not for another 20 years that you realize how beautiful you were in that moment. I feel a little bit of that for Abby. Fitz tells her, “You have every option in the world after I’m done with my presidency,” but she doesn’t trust that. She doesn’t trust herself. Or maybe she’s just seduced by that large, shiny object that says, “You can have instant power! Here’s $300 million!”
TVLINE | Do you think “President Abby Whelan” is really a possibility?
I wrestle with that, and I love that Abby wrestles with it. There’s nothing easy about where Abby’s at in this place. She makes a lot of difficult decisions, and not in her traditional moral compass kind of way. It’s also the first time we’re seeing blood on Abby’s hands. Ever.
TVLINE | Literal blood on her hands! Was that fake Frankie corpse as gross as it looked?
Oh my goodness. Let me tell you, the people who make these organs and this body do such a good job. I really, truly was gagging. It was pretty intense. We shot that scene at the end of a 17-and-a-half hour day. I was so tired and shaky. It was so easy to act because I really was grossed out.
TVLINE | Speaking of corpses, though I hope that’s not the case, can you offer any insight on Huck’s condition?
He’s in trouble. He’s a mess. I’m really looking forward to that eventually coming out. It’s pretty serious.
TVLINE | Switching gears a little, there’s been a ton of time jumping this season. Like, more than usual. Are you having trouble keeping up?
The producers and writers have been great about giving us the tools we need, and I personally love the way they’re playing with time. They keep going back to this one night, this key moment in time, and drilling down on different characters’ points of view. And a unique thing happened to me this season: Shonda told the head writer to give me this week’s script, even an early draft, before I shot the scene where you find out Abby’s the mole. She wanted me to be informed about what happened in the past — and that never happens! We never get to look at scripts until the table read.
TVLINE | I know how rare that is. You must have been so excited.
I was like, “Wow, I’m an insider now! What’s going on?!”
TVLINE | I’d like to know “what’s going on” with Cyrus and Abby. Will freeing him remain a priority for her?
Oh yeah, the storyline with Cyrus isn’t over by a long shot. It’s all she has left, really. I mean, she literally had someone killed to get Cyrus out. Jeff Perry and I always talk about this relationship. It’s such a dark, twisted one, but there’s also a subtle mentor/mentee vibe. They have each other’s back in a weird way.
TVLINE | I also have to ask you about Abby telling Fitz that Olivia will never go to Vermont for him. Does she believe that?
Abby’s trying to get what she wants out of the president in that moment, and she’s taking it personally that he wants to move to Vermont and do his own thing because it’s not what she wants him to do. She’s definitely gotten caught up in the power and the fast lane that she’s in. It’s lashing out with a purpose. She’s trying to get him to wake up.
TVLINE | And do you believe that?
I always think there’s hope for Olivia and Fitz. It might be the optimist or the idealist in me, but this was set up as a true love story from the beginning. To me, it’s still one of those relationships where they can never say goodbye.
Are you relieved to learn that Abby isn’t acting of her own accord? And do you forgive her for trying to sink the show’s eternal ‘ship? Whatever’s on your mind, drop it in a comment below.
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Abby Whelan (Darby Stanchfield) is in quite a jam. (John Fleenor/ABC)
Abby, you in danger, girl! At the end of last week’s Scandal episode, we learned that Abby Whelan, President Fitzgerald Grant’s chief of staff, was involved in the shooting of Jennifer Fields and Huck. This week’s episode is dedicated to showing us exactly how Abby got caught up.
The real story begins 60 days before the election, when Abby is trying to find the best site for Fitz’s presidential library. She meets with two potential donors who turn out to be—dun dun dun—Sarah and Mr. Payus (look, I spelled it how it sounds), the two bad guys who appear to be pulling all the strings related to President-elect Frankie Vargas’ assassination. They offer her a whopping $300 million to run for president.
Abby turns them down, but they’ve convinced her that her vision for the world is valuable. They get in her head so much that she’s too distracted to pay attention to her boyfriend, Leo Bergen, who’s back from wherever he’s been. Yay! Leo’s one of my favorite Scandal characters … he’s such a jerk.
Abby’s still mulling over a presidential run, and she’s furious that all Fitz wants to do is retire to Vermont to make jam when he has so much more to give the country. So she warns Fitz that Olivia Pope is never going to Vermont with him. Ouch. Disappointed in Fitz, Abby calls Sarah and Mr. Payus and lets them know she’s in …
… which quickly turns out to be a bad look. On election night, Sarah calls Abby immediately after Vargas is shot and tells her to go lock down the hospital and wait for further instructions. If she doesn’t, Sarah will make sure that the $300 million they gave her is traced back to some terrorist plot, which brings us back to the scene from the very first episode this season where Abby locks down Vargas’ hospital ward and confiscates his widow’s phone.
A “nurse” arrives with further instructions for Abby, and the nurse is Meg, who shot (maybe killed?) Huck in the last episode! Meg wants Abby to swap the bullets in Vargas’ body for three bullets that she hands Abby in an envelope. Abby tries to get out of it, but Meg shows Abby a video of someone beating up Leo, so Abby’s gotta do what Abby’s gotta do.
Abby tries to pressure Fitz into authorizing an autopsy, but Fitz isn’t ready to tell anyone that Vargas is dead, so Abby goes over his head. She blackmails a doctor into performing the autopsy, but when his higher-ups arrive and ask who authorized the autopsy, Abby turns on him and they remove him from the hospital room, leaving her alone with a dead body and a mission. So Abby plays a real-life game of Operation and fishes the remaining bullet out of Vargas’ stomach and replaces all the bullets with the ones Meg gave her.
When Abby gets home, she finds a battered and tattered Leo, who doesn’t remember what happened to him, but at least he’s alive.
Don’t celebrate yet … it gets worse. Abby learns that Sarah and Payus are trying to frame Cyrus Beene for Vargas’ death. Abby tries to talk Fitz out of investigating Cyrus. She even pays a visit to her ex, Attorney General David Rosen, but before David can come to the door, Sarah shows up on the scene. “Did you think we’d let you waltz over to the AG’s house and make a plea for Cyrus Beene’s life?” she asked. She also asked Abby if she really thought she was going to be president. It was all a sham.
Abby talks tough about how David is going to see that justice is served, but when David comes outside, he wraps his arms around Sarah and introduces her to Abby as his girlfriend. Damn, damn, damn!
When Abby learns from Huck that Jennifer Fields is still alive, she takes this information to Cyrus and vows to exonerate him. Then she leads Meg to Jennifer’s hiding place, where Meg promptly shoots both Jennifer and Huck. In the final flashback, Abby asks Meg if she took care of Huck. Did Abby really order Meg to kill Huck??
Darby Stanchfield Talks Diet, Fitness, and Scandal Season 3
If you thought you were on pins and needles during the May finale of Scandal, then just wait for the season three premiere, airing October 3 on ABC at 10/9c. As Emmy nominee Kerry Washington put it to E! News, “There are a couple of moments that just might break Twitter.” Washington’s gorgeous co-star Darby Stanchfield, who plays Gladiator Abby Whelan also teased about the upcoming new season, saying, “I’ve read the first two scripts and I’m in shock. There’s some amazing flashback stuff that you thought you knew the answers to but it’s like, ‘Whoa, that’s what really happened?'” We got the chance to go one-on-one with the 42-year-old ravishing redhead to get the scoop on what’s in store for Abby, the snack she’ll never give up, and the workouts that keep her looking perfectly toned in those pencil skirts. SHAPE: We can’t wait for the new season of Scandal! What can fans expect to see?Darby Stanchfield (DS): I can’t give you much, but I will say it picks up right where we left off last season. Shonda Rhimes, the creator of the show, handles it in such a complex way. With one scandal, five more arise from that. It’s going to be completely off the books crazy. SHAPE: What’s in store for your character Abby, and what will the relationship be like between her and David?DS: I obviously can’t spill too many secrets here either, but the way Shonda phrases it, as long as it fits into the overall story, then you will find out more about Abby. There will be a few flashbacks and confrontations happening. As for David, in the first few episodes, there’s something around the corner for him and Abby. I don’t know what, but they’re definitely sniffing around each other. I don’t know if it’s on, but it’s definitely not off! (laughing) SHAPE: How do you like working with Kerry Washington?DS: She’s one of the hardest-working women I know! She’s just so savvy and talented, and she’s involved in the community and giving back. This role is really what she shines so much in, and it’s so lovely to see her being recognized. It’s a thrill to be on set with her. SHAPE: How do you like Abby’s style on the show? DS: Abby actually gets a makeover this year. Fans have seen her with thick straight hair throughout season two. Her style this season will be enhanced with looser, more tousled curls. It’s a more contemporary look with smoky eyes. Abby had fallen in love again since her bitter divorce and gone through a lot, and now she’s single with more self-confidence… you see that reflected in her personal appearance and it’s really fun! SHAPE: What do you do to take care of your beautiful hair?DS: I don’t over-wash it. I learned that from the business. If you over-wash it, you can ruin it easier from all the flat ironing and curling. Only wash it every three to four days if you can. I do a lot of masks too, with a little extra avocado on Sundays. SHAPE: How do you stay in such great shape, and do you have a specific red carpet workout routine?DS: I like to be very consistent with workouts and getting a good amount of sleep. I’ve really been enjoying Pilates lately. It’s actually really tough to fit in my schedule, but if I can get in a workout three times a week while we’re shooting, that feels right. Any more seems to deplete my energy. When I get ready for a high-profile event, it’s really about sleep and making sure I’m eating something healthy, and then it’s always important to stretch to stay limber. No matter what, you want to feel as loose as possible, because it’s easy to get full of excitement or tension with all that’s going on. SHAPE: Tell us more about your love of Pilates. Do you have a specific class or trainer you like to go to?DS: Lately I’ve really been enjoying Pilates Studio City. They actually have about three different studios in the Los Angeles area. They’re really intimate and well designed, and the teachers are all really good. I also enjoy doing Tracy Anderson’s workout. Because of my schedule, I tend to enjoy her DVDs because it’s easy to do them in my living room or at the gym any hour of the day. SHAPE: How do you stay healthy on set with all the tempting junk food around on the craft service table?DS: It’s actually pretty easy because I bring my own food to set. I prepare it the night before and bring it in. There’s an ongoing joke on set because I garden and grow my own veggies in the summer. I’ll always bring healthy things like tuna, tofu, quinoa, or kale salads. I also like to bring fresh-squeezed juices and nuts to nibble on throughout the day. I just have to stay away from craft services. Having that routine allows me to keep absolute focus on the physical shape I want to be in. It’s also important to allow yourself to have treats every once in awhile, so I indulge in dark chocolate. It’s just a balance, for the most part! SHAPE: Do you share recipes with the rest of the cast for the healthy meals you bring to set?DS: They always ask me, ‘what’s in your salad today!’, so I’ll definitely share recipes. We get together on weekends and watch Scandal episodes to prepare for live tweet events with our fans, so I’ve been known to make a huge salad from my garden for everyone. I’ll throw in fun stuff like cucumbers, pomegranates, flaxseeds, pine nuts, lemon juice, and olive oil-that’s what I like to call a “Darby Salad!” Also kale, arugula, and various types of lettuces with herbs, chives, parsley, and dill… I never shy away from herbs! I just get really creative. SHAPE: Is there one guilty pleasure food you’ll never give up?DS: I’d say peanut butter in general. Never ever! I try to stick to the natural peanut butter, and I have several jars in the cupboard. I’ll put it on oatmeal, rice cakes, chocolate… I just love it. SHAPE: Do you have a celebrity body crush?DS: Oooh, Jennifer Lawrence for sure! I love that she’s got her feet on the ground and totally rocks it. I love seeing a young woman embrace who she is. She’s so down to earth. I can’t really even separate her strong physique from the personality; she’s just the whole package. SHAPE: Any advice for other women out there on how to be happy and healthy from the inside out?DS: I think for me, at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day, taking a moment to be really grateful for all the good in my life. And it can be really small things, like something growing in my garden or how nice a neighbor was. When I’m grateful for all the blessings, it puts away all the stress about things not in my control. Things like long hours, aging, pollution, scandals… it helps me create perspective by just focusing on being grateful. Take that moment twice a day with yourself. Check out an all-new season of Scandal on ABC, premiering Thursday, October 3 at 10/9c.
- By Kristen Aldridge
Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty
Do Abby and David Rosen stand a chance with Abby’s ex now on the loose? It’s one of the big questions left hanging at the end of tonight’s Scandal. Even Darby Stanchfield, who plays Abby and who you might recognize from her previous work as the mom of creepy Glen on Mad Men, would love to know. She’s hopeful that it won’t spell the end of Dabby (as Kerry Washington has christened the on-again-off-again couple), not now that she’s sporting bigger hair and sexy clothes. “It can’t all be for nothing!” she laughs. In a recent interview with Vulture, Stanchfield talked about the consequences of playing the most outspoken member of Olivia’s team, and how Abby gets involved with Lisa Kudrow’s Josie Marcus.
Abby’s ex-husband was at the White House Correspondents dinner — twist!
Yup. It’s another bump in the road for Abby and David. They’re trying to do normal, and she’s even pulling this romantic move, trying to surprise him by dressing up. But then, for obvious reasons, she’s terrified to see her ex-husband again and doesn’t make it.
Is the ex back with an agenda?
Umm, I don’t know yet. Honest. It’s just a tease for what may come. One of our camera guys who runs the @ScandalTrivia Twitter account was like, “What would be good Scandal trivia for Abby? How about a photo of your ex-husband?” They had a driver’s license photo of him in season one when Cyrus was digging up dirt on all the gladiators, remember? But then one of the writers was like, “No, no. You don’t want to put out that photo of him because we could be seeing him again,” and I don’t think he’s been cast.
Do you play along?
I totally play along. He does it every Thursday. Here’s today’s question: “What floor of its building is Olivia Pope & Assoc. located on?”
Uh, is it four?
I don’t know! The answer hasn’t come out yet . This can be a confusing show to work on. I keep my scripts very close at hand because sometimes I’ll be shooting a scene and I won’t remember when I last saw some character or what my point of view on something was two episodes ago. For instance, when the news came out about Olivia sleeping with Fitz, we had to have this whole conversation about who knew what when. I keep waiting for Abby to be judgmental and call her a whore.
Maybe she’s loosened up this season. Her look certainly has. She’s wearing more eyeliner, her hair’s been zhuzhed.
I’m wearing vintage Chanel belts, too.
What’s the story behind the makeover?
Lyn Paolo, the Scandal stylist, really wanted to up the fashion, and we started to talk about what that would mean for Abby. Abby’s trying to become a normal, balanced woman in her personal life, and that means she’s spending more time in front of the mirror. I remember we talked to Shonda Rhimes about playing with her look and she agreed I was due for a change.
What did Shonda want specifically?
Oh, she didn’t tell us anything. Lyn and I kind of came up with it. Just more attention to her hair, adding beautiful accessories. I didn’t really know what the makeover would mean for Abby until I read it. We find out story as we get the scripts. But I know Shonda thinks about these characters like they’re real people. I’ve had conversations with her before where she’ll tell me, for example, what Abby reads.
What does Abby read?
Anaïs Nin, who wrote very high-brow erotica. I asked Shonda one time, “Does she read Fifty Shades of Grey? Would that be her kind of book?” And she went, “Oh no, she reads this.”
She keeps it classy.
Of course. Shonda will give you tidbits, but we really fill in our own backstory and intentions until a storyline is given to us. It works somehow. Shonda gave a hint about her last year. She said Abby would begin to deal with “the betrayal.” I never knew what that meant — I still don’t totally know what that means!
So going back to what you said before, why do you think Abby hasn’t called Olivia a whore yet?
I think maybe Abby’s loyalty and friendship with Olivia has taken over. There’s a great scene coming up where Abby attempts to comfort Olivia. It’s pretty awkward. They’re not touchy-feely girls. Abby approaches her like a wounded animal, “I’m going to hug you now. Don’t leave,” and Olivia doesn’t know what to do with it. So that’s probably why she hasn’t called Olivia a whore. She’s trying not to be such a weirdo. She’s growing up. It goes with the makeover.
When Oprah did a special on the show last year, I remember you went up to her when the credits were rolling and said, “Do you hate me, too?”
At the time, and this was back in season two, Abby was really questioning Olivia, she was on her about everything, going behind her back, working with David Rosen and not telling Olivia about it. Listen, the Scandal fans are very, very loyal to Olivia Pope and Olivia Pope alone. I was getting a lot of negative tweets. Even on the street, there were a couple of times where people would come up to me like, “Abby? Yeah, you need to stop questioning Olivia so much and stop sleeping with that lawyer guy. It’s out of control. You need to rein it in.” So I was teasing Oprah, but I was also like, Well, Oprah’s hooked on the show, too. What does she think about me? She gave me a huge hug and was like, “It’s all acting. I think you’re doing a great job.”
Olivia might go work for Josie Marcus, who potentially could be running against Fitz. What does Abby think about it?
You heard in the pilot that Abby hates Republicans, right? She’s a feminist. Josie is a Democrat, she’s a woman, she’s running for president. Oh snaps! There is no one Abby would love to see more in office. So that’s all you need to know. It’s going to be fun for Abby to try and help get her elected. She’s especially invested.
When you were last on Mad Men, playing the mom of Glen Bishop, he was still so young and creepy.
Oh my gosh. Hasn’t he grown up so fast? It’s unbelievable. Helen Bishop was such a horrible mother. She was never there.
He turned out okay though. Years later, he’s still a good friend to Sally.
I love it because people still approach me like I’m really his mom. Like, “Glen Bishop, man.” That was Marten’s first acting job. He was so sweet. He was nothing like Glen.
‘Scandal’: Darby Stanchfield on Abby’s Olivia Pope moment
- TV Show
Abby was in her best white-coat form in last week’s episode of Scandal, and channeling the Gladiators’ nerves-of-steel leader was even more fun than it seemed for Darby Stanchfield.
“It was definitely a whole new area for Abby,” says the actress. “Her résumé is growing in the last few episodes.” As it will continue to do. This week, she will hopefully add “explosion stopper” to her list of skills, as a bomb in the hands of Maya Pope threatens to go kaboom on top of the president of the United States (Tony Goldwyn).
In the Q&A below, Stanchfield breaks down last week’s episode and teases what comes next, as Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and Associates try to handle one of their most dangerous situations yet.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I want to start with the most recent episode — do you think this political work is something Abby’s genuinely enjoying?
DARBY STANCHFIELD: Yes, I do. As we saw , she had a rough start. She metaphorically spilled red wine all over her white coat — everyone called her Gabby, no one listened. But by the end, she had some victory. She one-upped Leo and saved the day. Now it’s a two-candidate race. So now it’s a huge victory, and in that scene at the end, she Olivia Popes Olivia Pope. So the fact that Abby wins a little bit in her professional life in this new area is incredibly enjoyable. I think it’s satisfying. She’s gaining confidence quickly even though it’s new ground. It also, I think, tells the story that Abby is fiercely loyal to Olivia because as we know, Abby hates Republicans. She’s a staunch democrat. She’s probably love to see a woman in the office. She’s already been snarky about this all-male surfer dude ticket. But she keeps it mostly together when she’s in the White House. She just does her little snark to Reston on the TV screen but you know, she’s, I think, genuinely enjoying it and giving it a shot. I think even donning the white coat and dressing like Olivia was her attempting to take it seriously and do her best.
Was that something you worked closely with Lyn Paolo on?
Of course. Lyn came to me and she said, “Darby, we’ve got to do this. We’ve got to put you in Olivia clothes.” So we had a whole proper fitting of trying on these beautiful white coats. We tried on three of four and we finally decided on the Escada. We were going to go with something a little more of an overcoat, like a trench. And then we decide to go with something just slightly softer because that makes it a little more Abby. Abby has gotten so feminine this year. And I think with her being so new at it, we wanted it to be a little bit of both . Abby even had a gold ring on her index finger. She was fully Olivia.
Was that in the script?
It wasn’t. The necklace was Lyn’s idea. And I have this collection of rings in my trailer and I though, “Oh, that’s the ticket right there. Go all the way. Wear that gold ring.” Fans on Twitter did not miss it, which is thrilling that people are paying that close attention. But between Lyn and I, we had so much fun.
So in new episode, we’re obviously going to deal with this bomb. How does Abby play a role in that?
Well, there are a couple of things. B613 just got powered down, and Jake comes in and says, “You just killed the president.” So in typical Scandal fashion, the Gladiators are in a juggling act. We have many balls in the air. Not only are they trying to find a bomb, but they’re trying to clean up the damage from shutting down B613. There is a mess. AND they’re trying to win the election. And then there’s other drama with Huck and Quinn and Harrison. It’s a mess, which is going to make for great TV. And one thing I can tell you, Sandra, is that you go in there thinking, “OK, they have to find this bomb. That’s what the episode is going to be about.” But we have a mess at the end of episode that actually turns into a bigger mess by the end of the new episode. It’s not cleaned up, it’s just worse.
Who would of thought that one day you’d essentially be able to say that Abby and David were the stable ones?
Let me just say, after last season of shoving my fingers in his mouth and smacking him around that I never ever ever thought that could happen. But you’re right. They ARE the most stable couple? I mean, Abby has her butterfly sheets on David’s bed. They have little rules. “We don’t lie to each other.” They love each other. So it is, it’s a bright ray of sun in a very dark and cloudy Scandal season, which is fun for the overall composition of the show.
Does that last through the end of the season?
Pretty much, yes. But I do have to say, there are some cracks in the boat. They’re still on the boat, it’s still floating, it’s still looking good, but they might spring a leak.
What can you say about the finale? Multiple cliffhangers, I hear.
Yes! I don’t know why I feel compelled to talk in metaphors…but to give you another metaphor, if it’s a chess game, there are huge moves made. Checkmate moves. I, honestly, in the season finale, while we were filming it, I was looking around this one particular set — and it doesn’t really matter which one it is because you know Abby is everywhere…but I was looking around and thinking, “Wow, things have gotten so crazy, that they might have to build a totally new set.” It might be something different because this world has exploded. What world? I won’t tell you. But it’s that major.
That’s so exciting. To continue our bomb talk, does it blow your mind that the writers have been able to keep this up?
Yes! Every once in a while — especially the beginning of season 2 and season 3 — I think, “How can these writers keep this up?” … Every single table read I go into I think, “What the hell are they eating or drinking?” I don’t know how they come up with this stuff. That’s certainly true about the season finale … I’m just expecting brilliance in season 4.
Scandal airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.
Shonda Rhimes’ political drama: Sex! Murder! Olivia’s suits!
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4. Mellie should’ve left Fitz after the first season—maybe even earlier. Obviously, this would’ve meant less drama for the show, but it’s frustrating Mellie stayed in this marriage for as long as she did. She had her own motivations, of course, but those seemed inconsequential to the sheer f-ckery Fitz committed on a daily basis with no regard for her. Mellie deserved better.
5. Fitz is terrible. That’s basically what I’m getting at. He’s a selfish, whiny man-child who thinks screaming proves his point. He put Mellie threw the ringer (see above), strung Olivia along for seasons, and lied hundreds of times—all for completely self-indulgent reasons. He should’ve never been the president, either. Literally! They rigged his election! Defiance, Ohio!
6. Quinn and Charlie, oddly, have the most stable relationship on the show. He’s a sociopathic killing machine for B-613. She’s a ruthless gladiator who turned into a sociopathic killing machine for B-613. And yet they have essentially zero couples issues at this point on the show. They’re having a child together, for goodness sake. They’re the Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds of this franchise. Who would’ve guessed this when Charlie was helping Quinn shoot bull’s-eyes in season three?
7. How does everyone look so snatched on a meal plan of wine, Gettysburger, popcorn, and essentially no exercise? Perhaps, my memory is failing me, but I can’t think of a time when any of these characters worked out enough to burn off the thousands of calories that come from their takeout-only diets. No shade—Gettysburger looks bomb!—but that’s just not realistic. Then again, is anything on this show realistic?
8. So many of these characters should be dead. Namely, Huck. Huck should be dead. Meg shot him in the chest. Multiple times. But then he popped up in season six, episode nine like a daisy and went about his business. The laws of biology straight-up don’t apply to Scandal, apparently.
9. Why did Olivia just stop saying, “It’s handled”? It was her catchphrase for seasons, and then the writers just stopped weaving it into the scripts. I understand if they didn’t want to overkill the phrase or risk it becoming too gimmicky, but come on. It’s Scandal. It’s a ridiculous, gimmicky show by design—in the best way possible, of course. Bring on the camp! Where is the justice for “It’s handled”?
10. Olivia and Jake should end up together. Their love scenes keep me warm at night. Fitz and Olivia’s love scenes make me want to do somersaults into oncoming traffic. Jake is nicer, more emotionally mature, and actually cares about Olivia’s feelings. He’s in love with her. I still contend that Fitz is just infatuated. Again, don’t @ me.
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