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Joe Morton on His Favorite Scandal Monologue

Four Scandal Actors Break Down Their Colossal Shonda Rhimes Monologues

Scandal actors, including Joe Morton (Rowan Pope), discuss their favorite monologues from the show. 

Joe Morton (Rowan Pope): “And Nero fiddled while Rome burned.”

At one point, Joe Morton sang his lines. His character, Rowan Pope, head of a covert government assassin agency, was putting the President of the United States in his place … by quoting Porgy and Bess. “For you, it’s always summertime and the living is easy and daddy’s rich and your mama’s good-looking.” To avoid paying music royalties, the version that made it to air was more of a mocking growl, but Morton says Rhimes’s arias often invite experimentation. “A Black man, in chains, only a T-shirt on, talking to a Southern Republican president of the United States and calling him a boy — repeatedly,” says Morton. “That alone was enormous. You just have to figure out how to hit and ground every note.”

Rowan communicates almost exclusively in eloquent two-to-three-minute intervals, working himself up to a rolling boil while lecturing his daughter Olivia or reminding a subordinate — like the president — who’s in charge. You can see the steam coming from his ears even when he’s telling Olivia in the most poetic way that he’s going to kill her boyfriend, President Fitzgerald: “Start grieving now, Olivia. Rend your garments. Curse the heavens. It will save you time down the road.” Morton says, “He’s someone who loves language and knows how to use it.”

Rowan’s final presidential put-down in his “I’m a man, you’re a boy” speech is simple but damning: “You disappoint me as a suitor for my daughter’s hand."

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