Zap2it: How does Olivia’s relationship with Fitz play out over the early part of this season?
Kerry Washington: Well, I obviously can’t tell you too much about that. I’ll say Olivia’s really trying to do her best to live up to her commitment of handing in her [White House] badge at the end of Season 1. That for sure is where we meet her at the beginning of the season. But there’s obviously a strong pull there.
Because last season was relatively short, you could tell one big story over seven episodes in addition to the case-of-the-week plots. Does that continue this season?
It’s sort of a better question for the writers, but how I’ve heard [creator Shonda Rhimes] describe it is that even, God willing, with a back nine [episodes], it will still be these kind of contained, big storylines with a scandal of the week. The intensity of the world we live in, it doesn’t really work well for sustained stories over a long period of time. … That’s kind of the way the world of crisis works. This show is inspired by Judy Smith, who’s a real crisis manager, and some of her crises last for a year, some of them last for a week — they each have a different shape. It’s important to try to honor that and not just let everything last over the course of 22 episodes.
What was your reaction when you got to read who Quinn (Katie Lowes) really is?
It was so funny, because we didn’t get any information all summer long. People would be walking up to me all summer, like “Who is Quinn?” And I’d be like, “I don’t know” [laughs]. So when the script finally came in, we were like drug addicts, all of us. We were all in different places when we got it and immediately texted each other and immediately dropped everything. I was at an airport baggage claim and had my phone plugged into the wall and was reading the script on my iPhone while somebody else was waiting for our bags [laughs]. I was like, I have to know!
What really excited me about this season was the question was answered. The big, “Who’s Quinn?” question was answered, but at the same time, we walk away with three more questions. And I love that. I feel like that is awesome. The question is answered in a way that feels really satisfying, but at the same time you’re like, “But wait. Now I need to know a lot of other things.” I felt that way as an actor — I was like, what does this mean? What are we talking about here?
How does Stephen being gone affect Olivia and the rest of the office?
She just compartmentalizes all of her relationships — people know her in different ways. But Stephen was kind of the person who knew the most about her personal life. With him gone, it’s a challenge for Olivia and it’s a challenge for the office, because they’re missing kind of their ambassador, their link [to her].
Is there competition among the others to be that person for her?
One thing I think is really interesting is — I said to Shonda, “Who’s going to move into Stephen’s office?” And she said no one. I was like, “What do you mean?” So right now, it’s interesting — Stephen’s office is just kind of open and empty. I think it’s a really great metaphor, and I think that may change, but for now it stands there open as if there’s a space missing. So the politics of the office get more and more complicated for sure.