"The saving grace for the character is that Fitz is desperately in love with Olivia, and she with him. It isn't just a dalliance. And whatever bad behavior he exhibits — and there's a lot of it — he's always competent in his job. That's priority No. 1. If Fitz were to fall down on the job, I think you'd lose the audience like that," he says with a snap of his fingers.
No profile of Tony Goldwyn can fail to mention the film dynasty he springs from. His grandfather was the legendary mogul Samuel Goldwyn, a party to the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio empire whose films included "Wuthering Heights," ''The Best Years of Our Lives" and "Guys and Dolls."
His father, Samuel Goldwyn, Jr., is a successful producer as well (with credits that include "Mystic Pizza" and "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World"), but who was careful to shield Tony and his other kids from the Hollywood glitter he had been raised in: "He really wanted to make sure we weren't Hollywood brats," says Tony, who witnessed only one film production as a child: an episode of "The Night Stalker" being shot at Dad's studio.
"That was the only set I was ever on until I started working on them myself as an adult," Goldwyn says.
By then bitten by the acting bug, he found work for several years on episodic TV.
Then came "Ghost," the romantic fantasy that became the highest-grossing film of 1990.
"Suddenly, after all the struggling, I was in this huge hit, and I didn't know what to do next," Goldwyn recalls. "I realized: You can't control your career, what opportunities come your way, what happens in the marketplace."
Eventually, that sense of uncertainty led Goldwyn to seek control in other ways. He produced and directed the acclaimed 1999 drama "A Walk on the Moon," starring Diane Lane and Viggo Mortensen. In 2010, he directed Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell in "Conviction." Along the way, he has directed TV dramas including "Dexter," ''Damages," ''Justified" and, later this season, he plans to add "Scandal" to the list.
"Directing takes the pressure off as an actor," he explains, allowing him to be more selective in the acting roles he takes. With that, he shares his criteria for which acting jobs he accepts: Does the material interest him and can he do something with it? Who else is involved that he might like to work with? How much does it pay?
"If an offer satisfies any two of these three, I'll take it," he says.
So which two conditions does "Scandal" satisfy?
"It's a trifecta," he replies hastily. "Thank God, this really is a dream job!"
Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier