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Scandal’s Scott Foley on Playing the Guy Who Can’t Get the Girl and His Case for Olivia and Jake

[Spoilers ahead if you haven't seen this week's episode] It’s both the best and worst time to be Scott Foley. Earlier this year, the actor was made a series regular on ABC’s red-hot Scandal, nicely rebounding from his last series (the DOA comedy The Goodwyn Games). On the other hand, he’s playing the guy getting between Olivia and Fitz, and Olitz fans have let him know just how much they’d prefer it if Jake remained trapped in that hole. They’re probably seeing red after tonight’s episode: Not only did Jake make out with Olivia (he’s handsome and protective — you would, too), but it was also revealed that Fitz and Olivia’s bad dad are possibly in business together. That's not quite as bad as when Fitz murdered Verna, the judge, but it ain’t good either. Vulture spoke to Foley about dealing with angry viewers and his history of playing guys who don’t get the girl.

Fitz and Rowan are in cahoots!
It looks that way, doesn’t it? I don’t know that they are necessarily in cahoots. They’re both privy to sensitive information, and they do have a history together. Not unlike Jake and Rowan or Fitz and Jake.

Well, let’s say they are in cahoots for a second: Do you think you’ll see some fans defect from Team Fitz to Team Jake?
I would never expect that. I have come to learn that you’re either born one way or the other.

Jake and Olivia made out tonight. Are you afraid of what Fitz fans might be planning for you?
No. I think all the Jake hate is good for the show, and even good for the Olivia and Fitz relationship. Jake gives them something to root harder for. But on a personal level? Fuck ‘em [laughs]. Honestly. Bring it. Whatever you got, throw it my way. Do your worst with 140 characters. We’ll talk. A lot of that stuff about me is based in nonsense anyway, based on things that people think I’ve said or people misremembering or misreading things I’ve said. People believe that I, Scott Foley, have said negative things in the press about Tony Goldwyn, that tweets I sent about Kerry not winning an Emmy were negative and in bad taste. It’s fucking insane. People are whack jobs, and I love them for it.

Do you read a lot of the negative feedback?
Well, you have to see it as humorous. When they pop up, I read them. I click on the links. I share them with my wife and of course my wife wants to fucking kill everybody. For me, it shows that Scandal does something for people. It really resonates with them. Felicity had sort of the same reaction, thankfully before the proliferation of social media.  

I don’t remember Ben vs. Noel being as lopsided among fans.
Right. But in every episode of Felicity, Ben would do something and get ahead, and then Noel would do something that moved him ahead. The writers conceived it that way. You didn’t know who was really “better” for her, and you were happy with whoever she chose. You just wanted Felicity to be okay. I think toward the end, though, Team Ben was much more vocal in their support, right? But thank God, you know, I learned to deal with it back then.

When did you start hearing from angry Fitz fans?
The minute I showed up on screen. I was a big fan of the show prior to being on it. My wife turned me on to it. I was a fan of the Fitz-Olivia relationship. Here’s a woman having an affair with a married man who’s also the president. Maybe it’s true love. When I came on, I knew a lot of people felt the same way I did. Jake came late to the story, and people were told to a degree by Shonda Rhimes that Olivia and Fitz are the show’s end game. Christ, if I read that one more time on Twitter … But anyways, the more time I spent on the show, I came to believe — and now I’m maybe going to change my answer about being born one way or the other — Jake might be a viable alternative for her. There’s a lot of possibly insurmountable obstacles for Fitz and Olivia, as destined as people may think they are.

Vulture’s pretty much Team Jake. Fitz is a drunk, married, a murderer —
That’s the thing! No one remembers that the whole show started off with Fitz cheating on his wife again and Olivia had to come cover it up. He lied to Olivia and said he didn’t. She found out he did. It was one time, okay, but he’s still married. He still killed Verna. There’s a lot of other shit this guy has done. Look, we’re all good and bad, but is Fitz a little more bad than good? I don’t know. How dare I say that lest I get myself murdered by the Olitzers.

What do you think it is about Fitz that makes strong, smart women like Olivia and Mellie unable to resist? Is it Tony Goldwyn’s puppy dog sad face?
There is something about it that makes you forgive every sin. It’s the hair. He’s got damn good hair. He’s got a great walk, too. Tony Goldwyn has this strut about him.

Kerry Washington’s also got a great power walk when Olivia’s in business mode.
That’s the common thread. “You walk really great.” “So do you.”

Okay, forget Fitz. Make the case for Jake and Olivia.
I think he and Olivia had something right off the bat, something that maybe Olivia and Fitz didn’t necessarily have. There’s a chemistry they had from the get-go that is hard for Olivia to deny. If she could deny it, she wouldn’t be making out with Jake. Jake wouldn’t even be in the picture. She knows he’s B613, that he had been watching her, all this stuff … and he’s still around. And I think it’s because Olivia wants him around.

My only hangup is that he did re-watch that video of him and Olivia having sex. Little creepy.
He did re-watch it. But I think, unless I’m misremembering it, he re-watched it only when he was burning the DVD for Rowan that Rowan asked to have. I don’t think he ever would have re-watched that — God I hope he never would have sat down on the couch and replayed his sex scene with Olivia.

The characters you’ve played on Felicity and True Blood and Grey’s Anatomy, nothing turns out well for them. Maybe it’s your time!
I love that you feel that way. Look, I’ve been very fortunate. I’m happy to be 41 and have done more episodes of television than I can count. Do I seem to play characters that in the end don’t get the girl? Maybe. But you don’t always get the girl or the guy, and there has to be someone to play that. For whatever reason I’m a good representation of the guy who doesn’t get the girl. I know Shonda is aware of this trend. She’s killed me off a show before. But I hope it doesn’t play any part in her telling the best story she can. To take into account “Oh, Scott needs to get the girl,” when maybe Jake shouldn’t, is not right for the show. Not that Jake shouldn’t.  

I’m just saying you’re a series regular now, so it’s not impossible.
I have hope as well. As does my wife, my kids, my business manager, my agents, my publicist, all these fuckers. We all believe in Jake.

Final question: All of the actors have been tweeting about how bonkers episode 309 will be. Tell me more.
I’ve been on shows that have had less story in 50 episodes than Scandal has in [episode] 309. I felt like I was at the table read for ten hours, there’s so much crap that happens. Every single storyline had a Holy shit! moment: Jake and Olivia, Fitz and Jake, Fitz and Olivia, Cyrus and James, Mellie and Fitz, Huck and Quinn. At some point, I whispered to myself, “This is insanity,” but it was loud enough that everyone in the room laughed. I even cried at one point! It was insane. I hope it comes across because I’m building it up like nobody’s business. It’s like a series finale. It’s “Did Felicity choose Ben or Noel?” again and again and again.

Photo: Ron Tom/© 2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.