The actor teamed up with Richard LaGravenese (the Emmy-nominated writer of Behind The Candelabra) to create a new crime drama show that debuts July 16 on WE TV. The Divide might have a slightly different plot than Scandal, but it does have the beloved show's mystery, turbulence, and kick-ass larger-than-life heroine (played by Homeland's Marin Ireland). Goldwyn hit up the Paley Center's recent panel, On the Beat: The Evolution of the Crime Drama Heroine, where he divulged a few tidbits about his new show and what it's really like playing President Fitz.
Congrats on the new show. What can you divulge about it?
"It's really great! It centers on two people, first an African-American district attorney in Philadelphia who made his career on a very high profile and racially charged murder case. Twelve years later, one of the convicts from that case is about to be executed and our heroine, a young woman who works at an organization that tries to exonerate the wrongfully convicted, finds a piece of evidence that unravels the whole case. She's not even a lawyer yet, but she pursues a battle with the DA and the system. It raises a ton of questions about whether the man is about to be wrongfully executed, and it follows all the people whose lives have been derailed by this heinous crime."
When you created the heroine, what were the characteristics you wanted her to have? What's special about her?
"Well, we wanted someone who was a very complicated woman, who was also brilliant and driven. She is on a personal mission to the point of obsession, and although she's trying to achieve a higher purpose and find the truth, she makes many mistakes along the way. She's kind of very self-destructive — she gets herself into a lot of sticky situations. We wanted our heroine to stand for the idea that to achieve a greater morality, you can cross the line of immorality. It makes us all look at how we handle that."
If you yourself were a detective, which part of the job do you think you would do the best?
"Probably the investigations. But, it's a hard job. I have tremendous respect for people who do it. It's hard to keep perspective, and there's a lot of gray areas in the system. In order to achieve an end, there are lots of obstacles — and, that's really what our show explores. As you watch it, you think, 'That's what's right!' and then you change your mind. Or, you think someone is the bad guy, and then he'll flip on you and you start to empathize with him. We're not making a big political statement with the show at all, we're just trying to make you think and to make it interesting."
So, it's harder to find who wears the white hat, you could say…
"Yes! The white hat keeps switching. It keeps morphing."
What can we expect from you on the upcoming season of Scandal?
"I'm actually going to direct an episode in the first half. I love getting to do that."
After playing Fitz for three years and now tackling The Divide, what do you think is trickier material — politics or crime investigation?
"I don't think there's many rules about things like that these days. It all depends on the complexities of the writings and the situations that the characters on the show get themselves into. Is it harder to be the President of the United States or to be a detective? I know that — it's harder to be the President! But, if we're talking about my President Fitz, then I'm not so sure…"