[Spoilers ahead.] After almost two full seasons, Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes finally let us in on Huck’s backstory. We learned in last night’s episode that he was forced to become a CIA assassin after returning home from his service as a Marine in Kosovo. When the CIA found out that he was living a double life — living with his wife and son while torturing and killing people — the agency locked him away until he couldn’t remember if his family was even real. Five minutes after the episode’s emotional ending — just enough time for us to pick ourselves up off the floor — Guillermo Díaz phoned Vulture to discuss his character’s heartbreaking reveal.
Finally we get the story behind Huck!
[Laughs.] Shonda was saving the real juicy stuff till the end.
How did you prepare for last night’s episode?
Honestly, I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare. I sat down for the table read, which I believe was a Wednesday, and then that Thursday we started shooting. We don’t get our scripts until the table read, so we have no idea what’s coming. For last night’s episode, we did all the stuff where Huck is in the corner, first. I had to jump into it and not think too much. Sometimes when I think about stuff too much I get into my head. Sometimes you don’t take as many risks and you’re a little careful with your acting if you know ahead of time.
Tell me we’ll see more of Huck’s family.
I can’t imagine Huck’s wife and his son not coming back. How can they not? To give us all that info about his family and not have them come back in would be …
Exactly! It would be evil.
How did you prepare for the role overall?
When I first got the script, Huck was described as a much older character than me and he was obsessed with crystalline, and I remember asking, “Why do they see me for this?” My managers were like, “No, they know who you are, just go in.” I think Shonda, she’s so great with casting, she doesn’t have one set type in her head. She brings people in and I don’t think she thought of Huck as he is now, but luckily I brought something to the character that moved her and I helped shape the character.
Why do you feel fans continue to root for Huck despite the bad he’s done and still does?
He’s broken. He’s emotionally crippled, but at the same time he’s trying to change. We see him torture and kill people, yet we see him struggling with that. He cries over it and wants to be a different man, and I think that’s what people love about him.
What characteristics of Huck do you relate to in real life?
I’m a loner. I like to be alone. I’m socially awkward. I feel like I can relate to Huck in that way. I also love horror movies. I’m really into horror art, so I feel like a dark side in that way. When the attention is on me, off-camera, I get uncomfortable — sort of shy and at a loss for words, as you can probably tell? [Laughs.]
No. Acting has clearly helped that.
Yeah, when I was in high school I wasn’t really popular. I was picked on a lot. And then I did a talent show and kids started to tell me that I did a good job. It was the first time that my peers told me that they liked what I was doing. Something clicked and I knew that this is what I wanted to do.
There’s one love triangle at the root of Scandal, but it feels like there is another forming between Huck and Quinn …
Right now, I see Huck as a big brother to Quinn. I think Huck feels a connection with Quinn [because] she’s also broken as he is. He sees that her dad is pushing her away, and he feels like he wants to protect her and take care of her. I love that. I love that they put Quinn and Huck together and she’s learning who and what Huck does. I love working with Katie Lowes [who plays Quinn]. But as far as it becoming a love triangle or hookup, I have no idea. But you never know. Look at Friends, around season five, how they started hooking up. I would have never imagined that Monica and Chandler would get together, and now they’re married. I’m talking about them like real people.
It’s intense when the cameras are on. How is everyone when the cameras aren’t rolling?
Josh Malina [who plays David Rosen] has left me messages that he’s a police detective and that he wants to question me. It’d scare the hell out of me. He did the same thing to Katie, saying he was a tabloid reporter and wanted scoop on the actors of Scandal. He’s so bad. He’ll take our phones and tweet things like “I’m horny” on Twitter and retweet it real fast. He’s a little shit. Me or Darby [Stanchfield, who plays Abby] are the more serious ones. For me, it’s because of my character. I try to stay low-key, in that Huck headspace. Columbus [Short, who plays Harrison] is the dancer. On Fridays after we wrap, he loves to give a little strip dance. He starts taking off his suspenders in front of everybody. Kerry [Washington, a.k.a. Olivia Pope] loves to sing; she’s a beautiful singer.
You were a gladiator, kind of, to someone outside of Scandal: Britney Spears, in her video “I Wanna Go.” How did that come to be?
The director, Chris Marrs [Piliero], was a huge fan of Weeds and Half Baked. He just called my managers up and said he wanted to use me. I was totally psyched. I was originally supposed to do just the beginning, the spoof, and they called me the night before and asked if I wanted to be the lead guy in the video. I was like, Uh, yeah. It was a surreal experience, sitting there next to Britney Spears, pouring milk all over myself … with all her bodyguards standing around us. She was real quiet, though — really, really sweet. Once the cameras were on, she just snapped into the performer that she is.