Post Mortems
Scandal Recap

Scandal Sex Twist: Joshua Malina on THAT Scene and the 'Big Mess' Ahead

Stop reading if Thursday’s Scandal is still sitting on your DVR (or if you live on the West Coast). Everyone else, dig right in!

On this week’s Scandal, Fitz apologized to the American people, Jake gave Olivia hell for releasing Rowan into the wild, Cyrus came to the realization that Liv “has the Oval,” Elizabeth and David had spontaneous office sex, and… wait, what was that last one?!

Yep, Lizzie Bear followed up her threatened White House takedown by schtupping her new boss’ crush. Below, Joshua Malina hilariously recounts how he first learned that he and Portia De Rossi were going to become onscreen lovers, and why he suspects Rosen is headed for a “big mess” of a love triangle.

TVLINE | Are David and Elizabeth Scandal‘s next great super couple?
I don’t know if they qualify as a super couple. [Laughs] I don’t think we will replace ‘Olitiz’ in the hearts of viewers worldwide. They’re more along the lines of strange bedfellows.

TVLINE | What do you think draws him to her?
David seems to have some issues that lead him to questionable romantic and sexual choices. He possibly has some self-esteem issues that he looks to resolve with aggressive women.

TVLINE | When and how did you find out that these two characters were going to hook up?
I found out as I find out everything — moments before a table read begins. I get there early. There’s a 15-20 minute [grace] period, during which everyone pretends as if we hadn’t seen each other the day before. I’m not over-excited to see the same people I worked with all the time. I’m happy to see them. I like them all. But there’s this weird thing where we act like, “Hey, it’s you!” I’m like, “Yeah, it’s me. I saw you yesterday.”

So everyone is hugging each other and milling about… and I do what I know is forbidden and look at the script ahead of time. I start flipping through it, basically looking for evidence that my character lives through to the end. That’s my No. 1 priority. And then I start looking for actual, substantive stuff, like what happens to my character. I noticed that there were multiple scenes between David and Elizabeth. And then I stumbled on the stage direction: “There’s a kiss; there’s a sexual kiss.” I’m sure I immediately started sweating.

Then I turned to Portia, who was sitting next to me, and I said, “Oh, boy,” and she’s like, “Yeah, I know.” I said, “You know?” She said, “Well, Shonda [Rhimes] mentioned something to me a couple of weeks ago.” And I immediately [realized] that she had a higher level of clearance than me. In five years Shonda has mentioned one thing to me, which was, “When you get back from the [holiday break] you’re going to wake up next to a dead woman.” So I was surprised to find that she had talked to Portia. Although I guess she was essentially just warning Portia. [Laughs] “You’re going to have to kiss Josh, and you’re going to need a couple of weeks to process this and prepare yourself.”

TVLINE | What was the reaction from the cast at the table read when you got to that moment in the script?
It’s a little bit like high school and you just admitted that you like someone. There’s a lot of, “Ohhhhh...” And there’s giggling. I’m like, “Really? I’m going to be 50 in a couple of months. Can we just read this and go home.” Everyone’s looking at me like, “You’re going to kiss a girl!” But I’ve certainly been part of it on the other end. I love it when [exec producer] Betsy Beers is reading the stage direction of a hot Kerry [Washington]/Scott [Foley] scene, or a hot Kerry/Tony [Goldwyn] scene. And I’m sure I’m like the high schooler there. I delight in embarrassing somebody else. But it’s not as much fun when it’s me.

TVLINE | What was it like for you and Portia when you had to shoot the scene?
There’s always something slightly uncomfortable about it. I like her very much. We both kind of went into like, “OK, here we go. Let’s just have fun with this. Let’s go for it.” In the end, it’s not super-hot. We laughed a lot and made the best of it. We both have wives to answer to.

TVLINE | Neither of which were on the set, right?
That is correct. That would’ve certainly upped the awkward level.

TVLINE | David also has an admirer in VP Susan Ross, which sets up quite the interesting love triangle, especially now that Elizabeth is working for Susan. I have to imagine that’s going to create a bit of a kerfuffle.
We shot some scenes where it does seem like it’s coming to some sort of breaking point. On the one hand, Elizabeth and David [appear to] have something physical. Susan and David, meanwhile, have something based on real mutual esteem and admiration… It’s feeling to me like there’s going to a big mess that these three are headed toward, but I could be wrong.