What began as a soapy romantic drama has suddenly become one of the most violent shows on television.
SCANDAL — loosely inspired by real life Washington D.C. “fixer” Judy Smith — has upped the “can’t look” quotient in season three by including graphic scenes of torture using power tools and characters having teeth ripped out with pliers.
Now, we hear, there’s more blood and gore to come.
“I can’t imagine [creator Shonda Rhimes] pulling back on that,” star Bellamy Young tells me.
“So far it has only been an ever escalating machine.”
“[Violence] is another way that Shonda is pushing the envelope of television. Pace is one thing and story structure — the way they just burn through story lines… But I think the violence is another sort of like… it’s sort of Roman, right? This is all very Spartacus, in the lion’s den realm of life in DC and I think she is saying it is very life or death.”
According to Bellamy — who plays First Lady Mellie Grant — cast members are kept in the dark about the show’s dramatic plot twists until the very last minute.
“We are always the last to know,” she says. “We sit at the table read and hear it for the first time and the next day you are acting it. It’s like Jenga pieces all in place.
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Here’s more of what she shared when we spoke at a recent ABC media event.
What do you love most about Mellie?
I have always had a passion for Mellie because you are meeting her at the worst moment of her life — which also happens to be the best moment of her life. But factoring all of that in sort of makes my heart swell.
Have you met Michelle Obama or had any interaction with the actual White House?
I haven’t, no. But I hope I get to one day.
You know they are watching!
I heard they requested our DVDs to watch over Christmas. I hope they are enjoying it.
Kerry Washington is pregnant, obviously. Does that affect her ability to maneuver on set?
Kerry is gorgeous all day, every day, any way you turn her. She is the hardest working woman in the world.
So her head hasn’t gotten all big with all of the recent award nominations?
[Laughs] No! She is seriously the most grounded, generous, incredible woman alive. I don’t even know how to quantify the enormity of her heart.
What kind of a mom do you think she will be?
Anyone would be so lucky to have Kerry in their life in any way. Especially as a mom. I know how lucky Josie, her puppy, is.
What kind of a puppy is she?
I recon she is a Maltese. Josie is incredible being on set. Ellen [Degeneres] made Josie a little directors chair. So she has her own chair on set.
Do you get to Washington at all?
We do all green screen stuff. I have gone in my lifetime, but we do all the shots as green screen.
Are there times you come up with ideas for the show and think, “If they just did this…?”
The writers think of so many more things than I could ever come up with. I have a simple little mind. A peace loving mind. They have drama inside theirs.
You have such a sweet demeanor, lots of southern charm. How come Hollywood hasn’t hardened you?
This sort of success is happening for me very late. I am 43 and I know how lucky I am to be standing here. So I am just super grateful. The minute your nose goes up, you trip and fall on your face and it is humiliating.
Was it a rough road getting here for you?
I have been super blessed. I have worked [consistently] all along. But nothing on this level. And to be with these people… This job in particular is an unquantifiable blessing and I am grateful nanosecond.
What might fans be surprised to learn about you?
I am a singer! I am making an album right now. You know the way you feel when you are singing a song? It is such raw emotion and the emotional topography of singing a song, that is always what I think of when I am trying to convey something. You have the soft moments, you have the large moments. Whatever you are doing you want it to reach someone.
SCANDAL airs Thursday nights at 10:00 PM on ABC.
– BY SEAN DALY
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