On Scandal, Joe Morton’s character, Rowan Pope, facilitates government control via secret spy organization B613 with blistering confidence. Off screen, Morton isn’t quite sure how the group would handle newly inaugurated president Donald Trump — but he has a few ideas. “The goal of B613 is to make sure that the republic is safe,” Morton tells Us Weekly exclusively. “I know lots of people have lots of things they would like to see Rowan do to President Trump, but that’s not how he handles things. Rowan would find a way to scandalize the presidency in such a way that maybe Trump would be out of office and someone else would take his place who is easier to deal with. Maybe that’s what would happen, I have no idea.”
The ABC drama’s explosive Thursday, January 26, season premiere, in which the assassination of Frankie Vargas (Ricardo Chavira) left America in political turmoil, opened up the possibility that Mellie (Bellamy Young) could end up in the White House after losing the election as the first female presidential nominee. Morton, 69, tells Us more for what to expect from season 6 in terms of Olivia (Kerry Washington) and Rowan’s tumultuous relationship, Mellie’s potential presidency and if the show will comment on real-life American politics.
1. Real-world issues may continue to play out in the show’s fictional setting
After many social media users noted the similarities between the political climate on Scandal and the real American presidential election of 2016, Morton insists that the series isn’t attempting to comment on government issues.
“I don’t think it was ever meant to parallel what was going on at the time or what we thought might be going on,” the NYC native explains. “I think ultimately the show centers on two major factors: One is, what it means to be human, which is why we have the kind of interactions with affairs or relationships between friends. Another is specifically what it means to be American and in politics. The fact that the show is in D.C. allows us to reverberate outward what’s going on in our political psyche.”
Morton credits the show’s intelligent behind-the-scenes crew, including creator Shonda Rhimes, for the parallels viewers are noting. “I think our writers are very smart,” Morton added. “I think they spend an awful amount of time doing an awful lot of reading about what is going on and then I’m sure some of that filters into what ends up on our page.”
2. Rowan will continue to push Olivia
Rowan and Olivia’s chilling confrontation in the season premiere won’t be an isolated incident this season. “He wants her to be in the White House or whatever the equivalent might be,” Morton explains. “Until Olivia actually manages to get into the White House, if that should happen, I think there will always be a power struggle.”
Still, Morton insists that his character’s harshness is only intended to drive his daughter. “When he talked to her in the premiere, what he’s basically teaching her is: Don’t just take some of the candy, take all of the candy and then once you have all of the candy, then you can be happy. Before then, there’s no reason to be happy.”
3. Jake will continue to be trapped in the Popes’ power struggle
“I think that unfortunately because of the kind of individual that Jake is, in one way or the other he will always be caught in the middle of Olivia and Rowan’s drama,” Morton explains. However, fans of Olivia’s scorned ex shouldn’t panic after his lack of storyline in the season premiere. “He’s around,” Morton says. “He’ll be back.”
4. Mellie may enter the oval office
She may have lost the election, but don’t rule out a Mellie Grant presidency just yet. “If it’s true that Cyrus was indeed involved with the assassination, that means Mellie may have a shot at the White House,” Morton says. “I guess if there is a parallel between the premiere and what’s going on today, the country that is surrounding the events on Scandal in many ways feels the same way that we feel in the real world. That there is a sense of instability, there is a sense of not knowing what’s going to happen next, who’s really in charge. In Scandal now, it could be Mellie, it could be Cyrus, who knows? We’ll have to wait and see.”
Scandal airs on ABC Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.
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