We still have a bit of a “Scandal” hangover, and we’re not alone.
“I’m in withdrawal,” Bellamy Young told Yahoo TV, which makes sense considering Mellie’s season of insanity. “It’s been a crazy year. And she’s been through so much this season — last year was the pregnancy and the birth and everything, but this year was the rape and the affair and my son dying, and oh! It’s been a lot.”
Now in post-“Scandal” decompression mode, Young is recording a new album of covers — “I want people to remember that I sing!” — including Ray LaMontagne’s “Shelter.” Yep, we’ve seen the old clips of her on Broadway, but now we just really want Shonda Rhimes to find a reason to let Mellie sing.
In the meantime, there were a lot of threads left dangling in that Season 3 finale, including one Young says she didn’t dare even think of: Little Jerry (Dylan Minette) sneezed all over Mellie before he collapsed from (and later died of) meningitis. Is Mellie the next one infected? “Scandal Season 4: The Outbreak”? Keep reading…
Drunk Mellie: Happy face!
I know! It’s such a joy to play. I know it sounds so wrong, but I just love it anytime we sit down at the table read and it says, “Mellie. Obviously angry. Drinking something that isn’t coffee.” They write it so well — they always say why you’re doing what you’re doing, because we’re always acting some crazy way. I mean, it is high drama! But they always give you all the reasons you would act like that, so if you just follow their words, it makes you look like a good actor. But I do work on that drunk stuff hard because that can go so sideways…
Practice makes perfect…
[Laughs.] Exactly. It’s all been for the purpose of science! And art!
But drunk Fitz: Sad face.
I know. Such extraordinary circumstances, and these are only people… he couldn’t even get the drink to his mouth, the grief was so all-consuming. Of all the stuff we’ve pulled this year, that hurt me hardest. Especially at the table read… I was steeled for a few things that might go down, but I never, never, never thought they’d kill little Jerry. It rocked me. It really rocked me. It was hard to shoot… and Tony [Goldwyn], who’s such an incredible father in real life, it really laid him flat, too.
So no one knew it was coming when they brought the kids in? I thought maybe this “Scandal” death would be different for some reason…
No, not at all. As in Dan [Bucatinsky]’s case, Dylan got a heads-up a couple hours before the table read, so he didn’t have to get hit with it in front of all of us. But we were just… as a family, he brought such a beautiful truth to little Jerry, and we were so excited to finally meet the kids. To have one snatched away in such Greek drama fashion… oh, it was awful.
As I was watching and freaking out with the rest of Twitter, I was also GIFing Jerry’s sneeze before he died. And then I was Googling meningitis. Turns out meningitis is highly contagious, and most commonly passed through sneezing on someone. Now I’m worried about Mellie’s health.
Oh no, I didn’t… I don’t Google things about medicine on the Internet because I get myself all worked up. But now I’ll be all worked up! I don’t know! He did, he sneezed all over me, there was blood all over my blazer… oh thanks Maggie, now I’m terrified.
Sorry — let’s get back to the less terrifying stuff. When Fitz came in and Mellie realized he knew her secret… how do you manage to go through all of those emotions in one scene?
It was such a gutting scene to play. But they basically write in the seven stages of grief — they’re all right there — so you’re angry, then you deny it, and then he comes over. I was like, “Is he gonna hit me? Is he gonna yell at me?” And then he kisses her head, and you’re like, “I don’t know what’s happening… but I’m not gonna let him see that I don’t know what’s happening.” And then it’s like defiance — “I’m not a nasty person, I got a paternity test, he’s still your son. Don’t pity me.” — and then he’s like, “I don’t care.” And that’s the worst thing! When you’re about to cry and someone hugs you, and you’ve been holding it together out of force of will, and then someone is kind to you, and it is worse than if they hit you in the face. So him saying “I don’t care” just totally disarmed her. There was no prickly, scaly, indignant, terrified resolve left — it just melted it all away. It’s a beautifully written scene.
And you start to remember why they’re together. As tricky and troubled as it may be, there’s a reason they’ve lasted as long as they have, and it’s not just because he’s president.
Love is complicated. Especially monogamous… or not… but marital love, love that spans decades, is just so complicated. You can love someone completely but hate them one day. Little pieces of you are aligned, and little pieces of you are at war. Certainly Mellie and Fitz have very conflicting envelopes — they’re amplitudes are seldom in sync. But that was one moment of union, and those little islands of togetherness are gifts to me and Tony. Like the flashbacks — you really do get a little glimpse at the why. Why would they still be together? It can’t just be, oh they’re in the White House and Mellie wants him to be president… you can’t swallow your pride that far. There needs to actually be a connection.
But Shonda is not ever gonna make anything simple, so it wasn’t like, “Now they’re back together again because now he knows!” So at the end when he’s asking for Olivia, Mellie says, “Yes, I will call Olivia for you. You need Olivia.”
That was a swallowing her pride moment — once again.
His grief was so complete. In the way he absolutely melted my resistance and my resolve in that other scene, and he comforted me, he melted my heart with his grief in that scene, and all I wanted to do was take care of him. I think she would’ve done anything in that moment for him. She didn’t even bat an eye. There wasn’t even a moment of, “How dare you? Why are you talking about Olivia?” It was just let me get her, where’s your phone. And the way it was written I was supposed to get up and go to the desk, to call from that phone, and I was like, “I can’t even get up from him.” So I got his cell phone and sat there and called her without leaving his side.
Whose storyline, besides your own, do you find yourself getting most invested in, as a fan?
For me, this year, I really enjoyed Scott Foley as Jake. Scott’s done an amazing job, and Shonda was saying on “Kimmel,” she was like, “Should we make him the vice president? Should we make him the head of B-613?” You could feel his fate sort of hanging… but when they dropped in to the path they wanted to put him on, I just thought he went to town with it. He nailed it. I love everyone equally, but by a nose, I always look forward to Jake and Scott.
That’s fitting, because in my mind, Mellie and Jake are kindred spirits… if Shonda had gone the VP route, maybe they would’ve even had that secret fling! But Scott probably sees you and the Mellie character as hope because Mellie was so hated, and now she’s amazing, and Scott’s still in that “Everybody hates Jake” zone.
Oh, I hope nobody hates Jake! No! Our fans are amazing, and when they say hate, I think they mean they love to hate. It’s out of love… I can’t imagine they mean hate. Usually they’re like, “I hate him. Take his shirt off.” [Laughs.]
You’re not wrong there! Now Andrew [Jon Tenney]… there were a lot of balls in the air in this finale, and a lot to cover, but I feel like I needed more of Mellie and Andrew. Do you feel like there was closure there?
No, I don’t! And I hope that’s good — I hope that’s still a question mark. Who knows…
“Scandal” Season 4 will air this fall on ABC.