Jeff Perry might play scheming and snake-like White House Chief of Staff in Scandal – Shonda Rhimes’s political drama following Washington DC ‘fixer’ Olivia Pope – but in real life he’s not got much in common with his character Cyrus Beene.
“My wife will tell you, no, I’m not allowed to multi task,” he tells RadioTimes.com before the launch of Scandal series three on Sky Living. “Pouring cereal and trying to answer the phone is beyond me so the plate juggling that real politicians have to do, at this level, would be way beyond me. And strategic thinking – I can’t strategise how to get in to the car in the morning…”
As Cyrus, manipulative puppet-master of the political system, Perry sure is convincing though.
“Pretending is a very joyful comfort zone… And it’s also really pleasurable to get away with stuff in Pretendville that you can’t in life.
“I can be such a son of a bitch at work… It is cathartic and I find that I can be Mahatma Gandhi by the time I get home, because I’ve been able to vent all of this.”
It seems there will be much “venting” and more of Cyrus’ vein-popping outbursts to come in series three.
“All I can tell you is that Cyrus [will] face some grave, personal costs and loss… Season three is very preoccupied – from Cyrus’ point of view – with re-electing the President, and he teams up at times with Mellie and this is very juicy territory but combustible and volatile territory,” says Perry, adding: “It’s kind of like Lady Macbeth and Richard III deciding to be evil together!”
“I can tease the audience to say that there is some overreaching involved – and that ends up coming back and haunting both of our characters a little bit.”
Not that the troubling storylines and stressful scenes make filming Scandal anything like hard work: “This cast has the temperament of an 11-year-old American girl scout troupe… it is the sweetest, most fun-loving, silly group. We feel like we got tremendously lucky.”
Plus he’s found himself working alongside his wife, Scandal’s casting director Linda Lowy.
“That’s like Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. It’s a wonderful mess,” he jokes. “My wife and I tease that of course I sleep my way in to any good employment.”