THR’s Lesley Goldberg Interview with Scott Foley

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Foley to break down the shocking turn of events, how much darker — and deadlier! — the season will get and how he plans to save the Republic (and the presidency).


Jake’s a killer for the Republic now, having shot the reporter and the woman who brought David the tape and potentially either James or David. Is it safe to say there’s a third victim and this isn’t a red herring?

There’s definitely a gun shot isn’t there? It’s safe to say someone gets shot. I don’t know about killed but I think it’s safe to say someone gets shot. I will not say that someone gets killed.

Would Shonda Rhimes really kill off an Emmy winner? I mean, Jake already has a mole in the White House but could use one in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

I know! That’s the great thing about this moment — at the end of this episode it leaves you asking that question and not just, “Would Jake really do it?” because he would. But will [showrunner] Shonda Rhimes do it? We have David (Josh Malina) who is the one character on the show that we always look to be our moral compass. Then we have the same thing in James (Emmy winner Dan Bucatinsky) and we want him to win because of what Cyrus (Jeff Perry) has done to him. So God forbid anything happens to either of these characters. Although we hear a gunshot at the end of the show, so what the f–k?! (Laughs.)

How much darker can we expect Jake’s story line to get?

It’s going to get darker. His transition to Command — though a job that he wanted — is one he never understood. That happens with a lot of us when we finally get something we want and realize that it’s so much more than we can handle. Jake is doing a good job so far of handling it and he wants to do it in a different way. He believes Rowan (Joe Morton) did it in such a menacing, violent and controlling way and Jake thinks there’s a better way to run this organization. He’s trying to do that but the weight of the reality of the situation is taking a toll on him and he empathizes with the way that Rowan now did even though he thinks it’s the wrong way. There’s so much more that goes into being Command and all of the information, the knowledge that he has now and what he’s responsible for. It’s hard not to make it dark. It’s an adjustment. It’s a huge challenge and it’s taking a huge toll on him personally.

What’s Jake’s reasoning in killing at least two as he attempts to protect Sally?

It’s all for the greater good. This information about Sally Langston (Kate Burton), about Cyrus and Mellie (Bellamy Young) covering it up could and would take down the president and cause a stir in the Republic, which is exactly what he’s supposed to protect. Imagine what would happen if our president was involved with a scandal like that and what it would do to everything from greediness and the financial market and how it could really ruin society for a long time. The damage would irrevocable. It would take years to overcome it and that is what Jake is trying to prevent.

Provided David survives, might he be turned into a mole working for B613?

That’s a very interesting theory and a possibility.

Jake asked Olivia to run away with him. How serious was he that he’d just walk away from B613?

He’s been trying to walk away from B613 for years and wasn’t able to. The next best thing is to take control of it and run it the way he thinks it needs to be run. I think he will run away if he thought he could from the weight of running B613 and I think Olivia (Kerry Washington) represents that possibility and that opportunity. She’s someone who he sees might be in the same position that he is. Jake realizes that he’s not the one that she wants and says that to her, “You’re already standing with him.” That’s a huge and heartbreaking moment. Jake is trying to be strong and resolute but for me it was such a resonating moment. So yes, I think he would run away from B613 if he could.

Is there no going back now?

There’s no going back now that he’s pulled the trigger.

How much did Olivia’s decision to stand in the sun with Fitz really help Jake turn to this dark side?

He felt that he didn’t have any choice. His one out was with Olivia saying, “Yes let’s go, let’s do this, let’s start over, let’s be something,” and now that he doesn’t have that, he decided, “OK, this is my life. This is the path I’m on and I need to do the job the best that I know how.” It was a huge moment for him when Olivia said no; it focused him. He then accepts his role even more in B613 and accepts the responsibility.

Cyrus says a very emotional almost goodbye to James. Did Cyrus order Jake to kill his husband?

I can’t say. Cyrus came to Jake and said, “I need you to take out Sally,” and Jake basically said, “You don’t know what you think you know, you small little man. You think you have all this knowledge and you just don’t have it. You don’t have the power. You don’t have the understanding and I don’t have the time to explain it to you.” It was so great, especially after Cyrus did that amazing and impassioned speech. Jake really talked him down in two sentences. Cyrus thinks he has knowledge and the power and the understanding and the wisdom to do this and thinks he knows what he’s doing but Jake makes the decision himself and knows what’s best for the Republic.

How much awareness did Cyrus have after finding the bug that his husband’s life was now on the line?

I don’t think he had any awareness. He maybe knew and finally was familiar or aware of the whole story with regarding James. Once James finds the bug in that picture frame, Cyrus puts all the pieces together and thinks that, because of who he is, he can always protect who he needs to protect. It’s a crazy dynamic. There’s nobody more full of themselves and power hungry who believes that he runs the show more than Cyrus Beene.

How will the shootings change Jake’s relationship with Olivia?

He felt that he didn’t have any choice in the shootings. His one out was Olivia saying yes, let’s go and start over, let’s be something and now that he doesn’t have that, he has decided this is my life, this is the path I’m on on and I need to do job best I know how. I thin it was a huge moment for him when she said no to him. It focused him. He then accepts his role even more so at B613.

Whoever survived — if there is anyone left standing — how can they return to their life as it was knowing that the head of B613 just killed at least two people?

Life for whoever was facing Jake at the end of this episode, whether it’s one or both lives, will not be the same.

What kind of toll is this going to take on Jake personally?

To be honest, Jake has killed many people in the past. He’s done it at the request and on the orders of B613. He has the ability to separate church and state. He can’t and won’t be empathetic and caring and have a heart — Rowan doesn’t anymore — but also be a cold-blooded killer. It’s harder now that he’s the one making the decisions to shoot, kill or hurt these people. But he’s still able to understand that it’s a job that needs to be done and if he wasn’t doing it, someone else would have to do it because this is the world we live in. For some reason, he’s been put in this situation to protect the nation, to protect the Republic and it has to be done. There are people out there looking to hurt it and it’s his job to protect it.

Does Sally really believe that she’s back on the Lord’s good side or is she still considered a risk?

She’s still considered a risk. She was so close at to giving up the goose. Jake had the proper measures in place to deal with it if she did but because she still holds all this information, she’s still a threat. Jake believes she’s still a threat but not as great because putting that information out would hurt her as much as it would the Republic. With James and David, it wouldn’t hurt them. They would be the heroes for getting this information out there but Sally is still absolutely a threat.