“I always loved and thought she looked amazing,” the Scandal actor, 45, exclusively tells Us Weekly. “I thought it was such a great story point for the show. There’s no one who’s in need of more of a change than a freshman, sophomore girl or person trying to find themselves. I thought Keri looked so beautiful with that short hair.”
Russell’s character chopped off her blonde locks ahead of season 2. Her new look was so dramatic that many blamed the cut for the show’s drop in ratings and the WB created a new rule: No drastic haircuts without permission.
Unlike Foley, Scott Speedman, who played Ben Covington on the teen drama, was taken aback by Russell’s shorter curls. “We were actually dating at the time, and I’d been such a disaster of a boyfriend up until then,” the 44-year-old said during a joint interview with Russell, 41, on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in May. “And I knew I had to put on a good show when I was going to see her new haircut. And I was like, ‘Come on, man, you gotta bring it home. You gotta do it.’ And I got to work, and she turned around the corner, and my face sort of froze in a half panic, half smile situation… it was a chia head sort of vibe to it.”
Felicity ran for four seasons from 1998 to 2002. Foley finally snagged the role of Noel after auditioning for creator J.J. Abrams several times.
“That’s probably the one I remember the most clearly because I went in and read for it about a half dozen times. I never read for Noel. I was always up for the part of Ben, that’s who I was originally cast for, so I spent two or three days as Ben before they could find anybody to play Noel,” Foley, who recently partnered with Propel Co:Labs Fitness Festival, tells Us. “Then J.J. came and asked me to a favor, He said, ‘We can’t find anybody to play Noel, you can play both characters equally well. We just found somebody to play Ben, do you think you could play Noel?’”
“I know J.J. Abrams, he’s the megastar we know now, but I knew there was something special about him, so I happily hopped into the role of Noel,” he adds. “That was a very interesting audition process because I met with J.J. and all the people from the WB so many times and went through so many readings. It was a really tough role to land.”
More recently, Foley has been getting into shape for the seventh and final season of Scandal. He attended the Propel Co:Labs Fitness Festival in L.A. over the weekend, which featured workouts with celebrity trainers such as Gunnar Peterson.
“This year we’re only two episodes in and I’ve needed Gunnar to help me get fit for them. Last year was a fairly non-shirtless year for me, at 45 years old I was very happy about, but this year they’re really dialing it all up. I’m very thankful to have him on my team,” the actor tells Us. “Gunnar is great. [We do] lots of shoulder and arms, cardio circuit training, interval training. Shooting Scandal and my family really now takes up most of my time. I have a quad rep in my house, so I’m doing bench presses and pull ups on that, any sort of basic strength movements I can do at home.”
For more, read the rest of his Q&A in our Now and Then series:
US: Do you think Felicity made the right choice when she went with Ben?
SF: Absolutely, that was for sure the right choice for her!
US: What was your most embarrassing scene or storyline?
SF: Oh God, there was a storyline in season 3 or 4 where Noel sort of went off the deep end and assumed his alter ego of Leon, which is Noel spelled backwards. They had in this bizarre frosted tip headpiece. It was a strange tough thing for me to dive into, but we had a lot of fun with it.
Us: Did you take anything from set?
SF: I don’t think I did. I have — in between the first and the second season there was this Ben or Noel question and the WB put out one of those Magic 8-Balls that either said ‘Ben or Noel.’ I have that. There was an episode where Felicity was making life choices based on a Magic 8-Ball, but nothing else I probably should have!