Some of the more powerful scenes last season rested on your shoulders; one of the more memorable ones involved you and Fitz in that interrogation box. You’re great at crafting that tension. But I’m still not sure if you’re a good guy, or if that matters.
He’s not a cardboard character, and what’s great about that is that it makes him absolutely human. You can see what’s good about him, what’s not good about him, where his loyalties lie, and why he does what he does to protect himself, protect his daughter, and protect the republic. Wrapped in all of that is a human being who is not very simple — he’s very complex. And it’s wonderful to hear people talk about him like that, because he’s not a cut-in-the cloth villain.
You’re a dad; as Rowan Pope, you say things that a lot of us Black kids hear growing up, like, “You have to work twice as hard to get half as much.” How much of your real-life dadness comes through with your parenting of Olivia Pope?
When you raise children it’s not all peaches and cream, so there were some things I could hold on to, and I was able to bring a lot of that to my relationship with Olivia. Olivia has two parents, who she witnessed sitting at the kitchen table with knives in their hands; for most of us that’s a metaphor, but for her that’s reality. Their both flawed characters; Olivia always wants to wear the white hat but she hasn’t always done very nice things, and the same thing is true of Rowan; for all of his being dark and secretive, he's also said things that were really kind of wonderful.