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A Conversation With Guillermo Díaz About Scandal, the Year’s Most Delightfully Batshit Show

Photo: ABC

[Warning! Spoilers aplenty for those who haven’t yet finished season 2 of Scandal!] At the end of Scandal’s second season, we learned that Olivia Pope’s dad is the head of B-613, the black-ops organization that turned Huck into a killer. What?! That reveal provided a perfect kicker to a season that had already been loaded with exhilarating plotlines and firmed up our decision to honor the Shonda Rhimes drama with yet another award, in addition to its Most Improved win (and we’re only in day one, people!): the coveted Most Delightfully Batshit Show. But just how delightfully batshit is this show? Vulture spoke with Guillermo Díaz, who plays Huck, about what makes the show so awesomely unpredictable.

What’s it like to be on a show that has so many twists and turns?
I’m nervous every time we’re going to start a new episode, because I never know if I’m going to have to be naked, if I’m going to be waterboarded, if I’m going to have to walk into a house where everyone’s dead, and have to have these emotions ready. You just never know what’s going to happen. Am I going to be shooting a gun? Firing up a drill? I’m pretty comfortable with all the power tools now. [Chuckles] I get just as excited and shocked as anyone. When Olivia said, “Dad?” at the end of the season finale, even I was like, “Oh my God!” And I knew that was coming! But it was the excitement of “Oh my God, it’s going to happen, here it comes!”

Do you remember any time there was a twist in the story that made everyone go, “Whoa!” during the table read?
All the time. When the president killed Verna Thornton, nobody saw that coming. No one. That was a huge shocker. When we read that Billy Chambers was the mole. When we read, in the first season, when Huck says, “Amanda Tanner is dead,” none of us anticipated that she would be killed off. Who would have thought that Jake [Scott Foley’s character] was B-613? It’s crazy how connected everything is. Those kind of moments are constant in our show. We’re constantly like, “Oh my God! This is really happening!” We all look at each other, and we all look at Shonda, and she’s like, “Yep.” She kind of shrugs like, Yeah. I know.

How do you guys decide to play a scene that is really out there. Like when you had to be in the corner reciting, “752. 752. 752” while everyone tries to talk to you? How did you not go, “752, 753, 754 …”?
[Laughs] It’s hard. I try to go to those dark moments I’ve had in my life, and I remember being really anxious, shooting all those scenes, crying a lot, and just trying to stay in that space. I know it sounds hokey to say, but all the actors, we’re all method, I think, and I really tried to get in that head space of where Huck was at, and it’s tough, man. I would come home and it would be really tough to shake. I was miserable shooting that whole episode. I was an emotional mess. Part of me was really sad: I don’t know if I can do this. I really was feeling it. But that little part of you is going, “It’s all good. Just use it.” You just have to think of the shit you’ve been through, and hope that it’s going to work out, you know?

So while you’re getting into Huck’s head space, what is everybody else doing? What’s happening on set?
Our stage is like a maze, so there’s always a dark corner you can go sit in and be by yourself. When Darby Stanchfield’s character Abby is talking to Huck, and we were shooting her monologue, we were kind of on the side together talking and crying. We were confused, like, “What the fuck? How are we going to be able to do this?” We were going through it together. So sometimes we’re together, and we work it out together, and sometimes we need our alone time.

How many crazy things can be in one episode? Do you ever think, “This is too much! There’s got to be a limit!”
No. Just another day on Scandal! The more, the better. The more shock, the better, I say. We’ll have like twelve an episode. I’m always excited when there are constant shockers. I remember being shocked when Charlie was about to kill James, when Cyrus had ordered Charlie to kill James, his own husband! That was a huge shocker for all of us. I love it. Our show does a lot of flashbacks, so I’m excited to see if they do some flashbacks with Olivia and her B-613 dad, what their relationship was really like. Imagine the mom. They haven’t even touched on the mom yet! Maybe Angela Bassett could be the mom. That would be cool.

Can you imagine? Olivia would be like, “Mom, Dad tried to kill me … again!”
[Laughs] “Again!” That would be hilarious.

How do you think Jake is going to handle being in the hole, versus Huck in the hole?
Oh, man. I hope he loses his shit. I hope he doesn’t handle it as well. [Laughs] I’m saying “handle it as well,” while Huck didn’t handle it that great. It’s going to be interesting to see him changed when they pull him out of the hole, if they pull him out of the hole. Is he going to be darker? Is he going to be more Huck-like? And to see Olivia see him change, if he does, that’s going to be really, really interesting.

You might have to loan him your wig. He might need Huck hair.
He can have it! He totally needs Huck hair. I’ve had that homeless wig, and the homeless beard, and just regular Huck hair, and in between, when I’m in the hole and all that shit. And I didn’t have anything down there with me. I didn’t want to. I just stayed down there. I wanted to have darkness and nothing and just feel the dirt on my feet. I stayed in that hole in between shots, pretty much. I wanted to stay in there.

If you actually were a sadistic, sociopathic guy — which you’re not, right?

Well, if you were, you could really mess with the guest actors who are about to be tortured by Huck.
Right! Yeah, because I have them chained up or taped down. There was this one scene where I have to clip one of the guys I’m torturing. I cut his toe off with those scissors that cut through wire and shit, so in the scene, I walk up and put the scissors on his toe, and that was probably frightening for that guest star. [Chuckles] I obviously don’t cut his toe, but he felt that cold metal on his foot, and he was probably worrying, “Is that guy going to cut my toe by mistake?” I mean, I am method!

Most Delightfully Batshit Show: Scandal