'Scandal' Star Joe Morton Answers 9 Questions About Playing the Character Fans Love to Hate
Joe Morton has played a lot of good guys over the years — a lot of doctors, law enforcement officials, even a Supreme Court Justice. But he's really enjoying playing the bad guy on "Scandal."
Morton's Rowan was a mysterious operator last season, but many jaws dropped when Olivia called him "Dad." This season, fans are finding out a lot more about "Eli Pope," who turns out to be the powerful head of the CIA-like B-613. He's got ties to Huck and Jake, knows something very upsetting about President Fitzgerald Grant's past, and can unnerve even Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene.
Morton chatted with Yahoo TV about his enigmatic character, how he's like Olivia Pope himself, and what to expect from the rest of the season.
1. Did you model your performance on what Kerry Washington was doing as Olivia to make it really seem like you're father and daughter?
I don't know that I modeled anything after Kerry. When I watched the show, certain [things about] her character's idiosyncrasies were mine on my own. The character loves drinking red wine and popcorn, and that's one of my favorite things to do.
2. Nobody else knew Rowan was Olivia's father until that big finale, but you did. How did you approach the role knowing that the rest of cast didn't know your character's true identity?
I could carry around this wonderful secret, which is what Rowan does — he has a lot of secrets. That helped me figure out who this guy is. What I ultimately did was I took a quote from Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," and my mantra for Rowan is he's a guy who uses his judgement, who makes clear and understands the lay of the land he's involved in. He's obviously someone who's collected power, influence, and contracts and he stays in the dark and uses them.
3. In a show full of morally-gray characters, Rowan seems to be at the very end of the spectrum. Is he "Scandal's" big bad?
For all intents and purposes, probably so. He probably has the strongest agenda in terms of how far he's willing to go to get something done. His job is to maintain the security of the republic so in his terms, whatever that takes. It's like what Malcolm X said, by all means necessary. So in those terms, yes, he's probably the most villainous character in the show.
Watch a scene with Morton and Washington:
4. Will we continue learning about his past?