Henry Ian Cusick Shares What Sold Him on Scandal, Teases His Visit to Lost-Like Fringe

For Scandal‘s Henry Ian Cusick, having played the electromagnetism-averse key to destroying an island that corked a Hellmouth was both a boon and a burden.

“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.”

Matt’s Inside Line: Scoop on Scandal’s Big Flashback Episode

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.”

Exclusive: Fringe Stars Talk Finale (‘We Shot Two Endings’), Drop Clue About Season 5 Storyline

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!”

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17 Comments
  1. kirads09 says:

    Have I been under a rock? I didn’t realize he was in Scandal and haven’t tuned into it. Now MUST watch. I :heart: him.

  2. Bec Lawson says:

    I don’t understand why everyone keeps talking about Fringe always doing something special/strange in the 19th episode of every season. Season 1 didn’t have anything, Season 2’s Brown Betty was episode 20 – it was only last season’s LSD episode that was a strange “Episode 19″ and now this year…

    • Fringe Fan says:

      Season 2 Episode 11 Unearthed belongs to Season 1, so Brown Betty is the 19 Th Epi of the Season

    • Whitney says:

      Brown Betty is episode 20 if you count the left-over episode from season 1, “Unearthed” which aired as episode 11 I believe. But it would technically be the 19th episode filmed/produced for season 2.

    • Jessica says:

      It’s been a tradition since season 2’s Brown Betty, as there wasn’t a “special”/”trippy” episode in this position during season 1. Brown Betty was actually the 19th episode of Fringe’s second season; some count it as the 20th only because Unearthed aired as “episode 11″ of season 2 (despite being filmed during season 1). This caused Brown Betty to appear to be the 20th episode of the second season, when in reality it was intended as the 19th episode. So, we have Brown Betty (2×19), LSD (3×19), and now Letters of Transit (4×19).

    • Mamoru says:

      My take was that Brown Betty was supposed to be episode 19 of season 2, if not interrupted by the wrongly misplaced Season 1 episode on Season 2 airing (S02E11 – “Unearthed”). I don’t know, but that doesn’t really matter as long as they keep giving us good quality TV.

  3. zuzoka says:

    I love him.

  4. stevie says:

    I’d watch henry ian cusick reading the telephone book.

  5. Carrie says:

    Lol, what “sold” him is the paycheck!

    • Rubini says:

      My thoughts exactly. I watched the first couple of episodes: a fine, fine actor wasted on a trashy soap badly concealed with fancy cinematography and funky camera work.

      • Trish says:

        Perfectly summed up! Cusick needs to get away from typical American TV. He is an excellent actor who is wasting his considerable talent on this artless, contrived garbage.

  6. BrianR says:

    I almost didn’t recognize him because he was all cleaned up. No scruffy beard at all and well dressed which was the opposite of Desmond for most of LOST except for the waiting room version.

  7. I have been watching Scandal since it’s first episode aired a few weeks back and I think it’s good fun! I hope it gets renewed for a second season. I am loving having Henry Ian Cusick on a regular series again, and I also look forward to his guest spot on Fringe tonight!