“When Lost finished, yes, [cast members] were considered a ‘hot property’ and possibly we had our choice of parts,” the actor shares with TVLine. “But the reality is it works both ways. Because we were so strongly identified with that show, a lot of people didn’t want us [for certain projects].”
Likewise, Cusick was game to change things up for himself. And in the midst of knocking around last spring’s pilot season — one year after wrapping his final scenes as Lost‘s Desmond Hume — he took a meeting with increasingly prolific producer Shonda Rhimes, whose previous creations include Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. “Shonda has a great reputation, and she is very successful at what she does,” Cusick notes. “And then when I heard that Kerry [Washington] might be doing it, I thought that’d be an interesting combination. So I went with Scandal.”
On ABC’s freshman drama (airing Thursdays at 10/9c), Cusick plays Stephen Finch, a legal eagle who just closed a deal to marry his girlfriend. But it is the character’s obviously shady, cad-like past that closed the deal for Cusick.
“The line that really got me was when he says to Olivia Pope [in the pilot], ‘I’m not a good man.’ That made me go, ‘Ohhhh…’ and hooked me on this character.”
But then came the not-too-simple matter of deciding if this not-good man was Scottish, like his portrayer. Looking back a year ago, Cusick recalls, “Our director was Scottish, and he kept saying to play it Scottish. But I had just played Desmond, whose accent was a lot stronger [than my own], so I toyed with the idea of playing it American.” And while the very original Scandal pilot presented Stephen as a Yankee, by the time the show hit the airwaves, “We got around to me just using my normal accent,” Cusick explains. “And I think that’s a lot more interesting.”
Despite the anecdotes shared above, Cusick re-embraced his Lost ties with a guest-starring gig on this Friday’s Fringe, playing a pivotal role in the J.J. Abrams-produced sci-fi-er’s trippy 19th episode of the season.
What we know thus far: Cusick, as well as Aussie blonde Georgina Haig, play federal agents in the year 2036. But beyond that…? “I can tell you that I do most of my scenes with Georgina and John Noble, who is a phenomenal actor, and it was a great experience,” he offers. As for the storyline, “It’s similar to Lost in that it’s high-stakes life-and-death stuff… a very exciting episode to work on.”
As reported last week, Fringe‘s Episode 19 will strongly hint at what the storyline will be for any possible Season 5. So is the door left open for Cusick and/or Haig to return? “That show is like Lost in that it can go any which way, so yes,” he confirms. “But fingers crossed, Scandal will go on for another season, and that will be that!”