Post Mortems

Scandal's Portia de Rossi Confirms Series-Regular Promotion, Cheers that Big Lizzie Bear Twist

Portia de Rossi Scandal Season 5

The following Q&A contains major spoilers about tonight’s Scandal finale, so, if you live on the West Coast or if the episode’s still sitting on your DVR, hit the nearest exit. Everyone else, you may pass go…

Poke the Bear too hard and the Bear will poke back.

In Thursday’s Scandal finale, Elizabeth “Lizzie Bear” North threw Mellie and Cyrus under the bus, and, for doing so, was handed the ultimate reward: Cyrus’ Chief of Staff post.

Her portrayer, Portia de Rossi, also has reason to celebrate — she’s entering the ABC drama’s just-greenlit Season 5 as a full-fledged series regular.

In an exclusive interview with TVLine, the actress justifies her character’s brazen power play, reveals the surprising way she found out about the season-ending twist and shares how she went about breaking the news to real-life wife (and self-proclaimed Scandal spoilerphobe) Ellen DeGeneres.

TVLINE | Congrats on the promotion, on screen and off.
New. Chief. Of. Staff. Bitches.

It’s so exciting to finally talk about the finale because I haven’t been able to tell anybody anything.

TVLINE | How long have you known that Liz would be the new Chief of Staff?
Not long. We got the [first] draft [of the finale script] and it wasn’t in there. I think it was in the second or third [batch] of revisions. So it was only three days before I shot it that I knew what was going to happen. And it’s funny because when the rest of the cast read it they came up to me one-by-one and were like, “Oh my God, this is so incredible for you!” I was in the makeup [room] with Darby [Stanchfield] and she turned my chair around and said, “I have to look you in the eyes to talk about this with you. How great does it feel that you’re the new Chief of Staff?”

TVLINE | So you didn’t know until you read it in the script? No one told you beforehand?
No. I found out when the new [script] pages were emailed to me.

TVLINE | How did you react? Who did you tell? Ellen?
I was so excited, but I didn’t want to ruin it for Ellen — especially since it was the season finale. So I printed out the pages and I was holding them and I said to her, “Can I please tell you something.” She resisted for a while but I had to tell her. I just told her [the Chief of Staff] thing. She was happy for me, but she was also mad that she didn’t find out like everyone else. She really does get angry [about spoilers]. It’s really quite sweet. But I had to tell somebody. And I don’t trust anybody else.”

TVLINE | And how long have you known that you would be a series regular in Season 5?
I’ve known about the series-regular thing for many months. I actually knew about it a long time before the cast knew about it; it was an internal secret.

TVLINE | Storyline-wise, why do you think Liz betrayed Mellie?
She was tired of getting kicked around. She was sick of being Mellie’s dog, someone who fetches whatever she wants. It was payback time for Lizzie Bear. She had enough, so she made a big bold power move.

TVLINE | But Mellie didn’t really know what she was doing when she gave Rowan those names…
Yeah, it’s actually quite sad how it all blew up in her face. But all she really cared about was getting into the Senate and her own career.

TVLINE | Was this Liz’s MO all along?
Good question. Was this a long con? It’s not clear. But she kind of ends the season where she started. My very first scene was in Cyrus’ office. And I always looked at Cyrus and thought, “I want to play that role. I want to be Chief of Staff.” [Laughs] So it’s so crazy for me as an actress to be able to go into the next season in that role. I don’t know where Cyrus is going or how long I’m going to stay there but for right now it’s pretty exciting.

TVLINE | What was it like shooting the scene where you walk into Cyrus’ office with your stuff?
It was a wonderful moment. Jeff [Perry] was so brilliant in that scene. It was such an incredible moment between the two of us. It was so fun.

TVLINE | Are you excited to be heading into next season as a regular?
I’ve been here for the entire season, so, honestly, I already feel like I’m part of the family. It would’ve been very sad for me not to come back. And to come back with a guarantee of a few more episodes than [I was in this season] is really fantastic. It’s just a great ensemble cast. And we’re all really excited about the show — still. I came on as a fan, but all the actors are just as excited as when they first started the show. And I love Shonda Rhimes. I love Shonda Rhimes.

TVLINE | It’s kind of amazing how grateful and humble the cast remains after all these years. You don’t see that often in this business.
You don’t get that anywhere ever. I’ve been on a lot of shows. People get a little jaded or complacent. There’s something so magical about Scandal. I have to say, Kerry Washington really sets the tone for the rest of us. She is so enthusiastic and happy and grateful and humble. She is a class act. She shows everyone else how it’s done. I have to give the credit to her. This is an anomaly, as far as people genuinely supporting each other and being excited for what we’re making. We’re all so thrilled for each other, we all like each other. There’s no competitiveness. There’s no drama. We save the drama for on screen.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. B says:

    YESSSSS! I loved everything her character did in the episode. I figured when she appeared as the only non-regular on the panel fearured in the podcast this week that she was being promoted. Thank you Shonda!

  2. Lianne says:

    Sickening, awful ending! Done with this show. Ridiculous.

    • Larc says:

      Why not wait until the other shoe drops in the fall?

      • whoopsie says:

        Thank you! if any Olitch was happy with that ending then they don’t get it and need to rewatch the previous six episodes. Olivia has had a nervous breakdown possibly due to her kidnapping. I’m an Olaker and I was so happy when Jake left because he realized Olivia got all those people killed just so she could be with Fitz – Crazy. And now she has unleashed the trifecta of evil – Mama Pope, Papa Pope and Cyrus. And Mellie? who now knows about Remington. Yes that’s gonna be a mighty big shoe that drops.

    • Carol says:

      Why? Mellie got what she wanted a political career. Cyrus can be Mellie’s chief of staff in the Senate. It is going to be Mellie/Cyrus versus Fitz/Olivia/Lizzie. Fireworks are coming. YAY!

      Plus no more B613 on the show.

      • Cheyenne says:

        I wouldn’t trust Lizzie around a glass corner. She’s a snake. Fitz traded one slimebucket for another one.

  3. Matt C. says:

    There was so much that I loved about that finale, but Lizzie was truly one of the best parts about it. So glad she’ll be back full time next year, even though she basically already was in season 4, just not officially!

  4. Nabil says:

    Ausiello Her last name is North, not Warren

  5. Morgan says:

    Lizzie is so shady. I knew as soon as she spoke that she was setting Mellie up for a fall. And Cyrus rolled the dice one time too many.

  6. Guy says:

    I love when favorite actors of mine are employed!

  7. ChicagoDan says:

    Portia has been basically the only true positive during this past season. Glad for her. Definitely a smart move to keep her on.

  8. alistaircrane says:

    Well, what does that mean for the next season of Arrested Development? :-/

  9. TAL says:

    Reblogged this on Cerulean Chronicle and commented:
    Attention Gladiators! Looks like Elizabeth North is here to stay. ABC has now confirmed that Portia de Rossi has been promoted to series regular for season 5. Her character, Elizabeth North, is now the new White House Chief of Staff after Cyrus Beene got the boot:

  10. Gatmo says:

    Excellent news, she is great, she was great in Ally McBeal, Arrested Development and even the short-lived Better off Ted, I’m happy to see her finally catch a decent break and get a steady gig.

    Having said that, this constant need every Shondaland actor seems to have to sing Shonda Rhimes praises starts to feel forced. I know I am probably way too cynical about this and for that I am sorry and I am also aware that she could be just this great of a boss but at this point it feels much more like this neverending “I love Shonda / Shonda is the best boss / We are one big happy family / Shonda knows best” line is more of a job requirement than a sincere declaration. No actor talks as much about their boss as a Shondaland actor does and only to praise her to high heaven. Too much…and considering the non-disclosure agreements she reportedly makes everyone sign she employs not to mention the mysterious and surprisingly nasty ‘killoffs’ of fan favourite actors (Chyler Leigh, Patrick Dempsey) who were rumoured to be at odds with her, all suggest that though she may be indeed the best boss in the world, in reality she may just love to hear that she is and since she is surrounded by actors who work for her and are painfully aware of what happens to actors who don’t please her (ego), she can probably hear “best boss ever” all the time.

    Full disclosure, I love all three of her shows, I think she is a very talented writer and I admire how she created wonderful opportunities for women and women of color. I simply think she may have let her ego get the better of her. Sheer speculation so I do apologize, still, this is the observation I made.

    • Paige Turner says:

      You’re 100% on the mark. I used to work at ABC and Shonda is known for being a total bitch on wheels. She’s not nice. She’s not liked. She’s very much like Jackson’s mom on Grey’s.

      • Donnie says:

        I used to work on planet Mars. Hard to breathe but the view was spectacular. I have no evidence to support this but I’m saying it on the internet so it must be true.

    • abz says:

      Maybe it might be because it’s pretty well-known what happened with Katherine Heigl (I still think she’s a great actress even though many people hate her and she’s in my top 10 list of favourite Shondaland characters). She’s like a cautionary tale for every Shondaland actor.

    • Baby Boomah says:

      Excellent take, I thought as much, but never put it together. Shonda must have an ego bigger than the door. Kerry sings her praises as well. Her shows are over the edge now….

  11. Gwen says:

    Love the role of Lizzie, and love Portia’ portrayal. SUHWEET twist for her. And oh holy hell, how it sets up all kinds of intrigue, drama, and other stuff for early next season. I was almost gone. I’m 100% back in now.

  12. Ashli says:

    The only thing that I’m surprised about is how long it took her to make Portia a regular. I love her character and she’s a great actress. But, does anyone else think that it has anything to do with how much Ellen promotes Scandal? It seems like every week someone from Scandal is on Ellen and Ellen talks about the show almost daily. It’s Scandal this and Scandal that. I mean if I didn’t watch the show already – I would just to see what Ellen was talking about.

  13. Kalee says:

    This interview was filled with so much sweetness it gave me diabetes.

  14. Will says:

    So what I take away from this is that every show that Portia has been on, the cast/tone/etc has not been good. We know that Ally McBeal was a toxic environment already, but she makes it seem like Arrested Development, Better Off Ted, and Nip/Tuck were also bad. Hmm…

    • Daisy says:

      I don’t think she saying those others were bad experiences, just not as familial as Scandal. But yeah, Ally McBeal was publicly drama filled behind the scenes.

  15. greysfan says:

    It’s great to see Lizzie as Chief of Staff! She will do a great job and i’ve always liked her character. Portia is an amazing actress and i can’t wait to see where they go with it. Bring on the next season already!!!