LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Kerry Washington hopes that when people look back on “Scandal,” they remember the show as courageous and bold.
The woman who made the character Olivia Pope a household name spoke about the ABC series’ impact as it aired its final episode after seven seasons on Thursday. While most fans were watching on TV, a few lucky ones were able to watch Washington, Tony Goldwyn, Bellamy Young and other cast members do a live reading of the show at El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles. The special event was a benefit for The Actors Fund charity.
During the reading, the death of one of the series’ original characters was revealed.
Washington says she didn’t know about the death until shortly before the episode was shot last March.
“Shocked, shocked, shocked!” Washington said of her reaction to it. “And also grateful that up until the end that our writers just are going for it, that they’re swinging for homers up until the end, that they are not holding back, that they are ready to do bold storytelling until the very final episode ends. So, I felt really shocked and excited and grateful for their courage.”
Washington added: “I hope that we’re remembered for being courageous and bold and kind to each other.”
In the finale’s 43 minutes, virtually each major character’s story got a wrap, a twist or a new direction — no small feat, considering the show’s sizable ensemble of actors.
Among them: Joe Morton, who, in 2014, won a Primetime Emmy Award for his portrayal of Ronan “Eli” Pope, the Washington character’s once-mysterious father.
Morton discussed the show’s historical significance.
“Well, its largest legacy, of course, is Kerry Washington: the first female to be the lead in a drama in 45 years,” said Morton. (With the 2012 debut of “Scandal,” Washington became the first African-American female lead in a network drama since Teresa Graves in “Get Christie Love!”, which aired from 1974-75.) “So, that’s huge.”
There was also the groundbreaking use of Twitter to live tweet episodes.
“Kerry thought of it and got Shonda (Rhimes) to tell us, so that she didn’t seem all bossy-pants,” recalled Bellamy Young. “But she could see the future, that people wanted an interactive experience. They don’t want a passive experience. They want to be a part of things. And it made it appointment TV again. We’re a bunch of theatre kids, this cast, so it made it very much like doing a play again.”
In the finale’s final minutes, the long-estranged lovers played by Washington and Goldwyn meet in the street, say “Hi,” and then the action immediately cuts away to two young black girls passing portraits of U.S. presidents hanging in the National Gallery, only to stop, look up and discover a portrait of Olivia Pope.
“I think people will be talking about the very end,” Goldwyn said. “And they’ll be going, ‘What does that mean?’ She (Rhimes) really leaves you something to think about and to chew on in the last image of the show.”