tv Tavis Smiley WHUT February 7, 2013 8:00am-8:30am EST
from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight a conversation with tony goldwyn. he has forged his own path of a successful actor and political activist. he now portrays the president of the united states on the series created by shonda rhimes. we are glad you joined us. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have
work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: tony goldwyn is an actor who stars on "scandal." is now in its second season and airs thursday night's. >> here is what is great about having someone attempt to
assassinate you. doctors are yelling, and you could die, and you suddenly stop being afraid. then when you do not die, you realize you have nothing to lose and no time to waste. this is going to happen. i am going to divorce and remain president of the united states. that is my job. do your job. work out the details. make it happen during your -- make it happen. >> you are out of your mind. a sitting president cannot divorce his wife.
>> i think you are probably right about that. he has got a few problems on his plate. >> when you saw this, what is it the most intriguing view about wanting to play a. there have been several people who have played president of the united states, but this moment with the vigor and use of the obama administration, there is so much focus placed on the white house, and you have to play the president, what made you want to do eight? >> there is a renewed interest and glamour and a new generation interested in politics. the biggest reasons were a
combination of ann curry washington and -- of kerry washington and shonda rhimes. i have a long time felt that kerry is one of our best actresses working, and when shonda created the show i knew that would be interesting. i thought if there is a potential love interest with kerry washington, that is something you do not want to turn around, for a lot of reasons. >> that would be scandal. what do you make of the success she has in a relatively short time.
she has got some hits in a relatively short time. when i read the pilot script and saw the first episode, immediately i thought, this woman has such a distinctive voice. when i think shonda is gifted, she has an idea of what people want to see in terms of popcorn, soap opera on value, but also really smart dialogue and a lot of intelligence with which she takes on big issues. she is a fearless writer, and she has a weird combination of
guilty pleasure and a high iq common-law -- high iq, so people get engaged in her shows. like scandal, we have been building an audience. we did a short season, and we are halfway through our second, and every week it gets better. she has got a real following the devours what she has done. in scandal she is at the top of her form. tavis: this could attest to the power. there is this aren't they have been on.
-- arc they have been on, and aggressive social campaign. what do you think about this business? >> it is new to me. i am at an age where i did not have a lot of familiarity with it. my daughters' lives on facebook, and social media is there means of education. abc asked us to get on with your as soon as the show came out. -- to get on twitter as soon as it came out. i thought, it really gets on my nerves. i am not doing that. they said, we want you to. i knew that i was behind the times, so i thought, why don't
we check it out? i was really uncomfortable at first, and within a short time i was stunned by the scope and power of it. we do this thing where we do live tweets during an episode, so the cast will get on a stretcher, and we communicate in real time with our fans -- will get on twitter, and we communicate in real time with our fans. tavis: you know what trending is now. >> the first time i tweeted, i was terrified. i thought, what button? then you get the hang of it, and now it is fun. i tweet with regularity and thousands of people, for some of insane reason, are interested. you learn how to communicate,
and it is extraordinary, and kerry washington is a master at it. the other actor is way ahead of the curve. it has been a big engine for us. tavis: you are playing the president, but you have a real life concern about issues. the first time we met, i was in the audience at a coalition gathering, so i know you are involved in the stuff that matters. did that pull you to this opportunity, or is it a total disconnect? >> i have been a political junkie for a long time. i find the way washington works is fascinating to me. that is one word for it.
to have an opportunity to really put myself in the situation of the most difficult job in the world, it is the most pressurized job in the world and to see, how you handle that with grace? that really excited me. kerry is a big advocate and junkie herself, so it has been great. tavis: does playing the president of the united states in any way enhance your value or stature in this town? >> we will find out. i do not know how to answer the question, but i will say it is a
great framework for a character, because you have instantaneous power. it gives you, watching the show and seeing how she is writing the character, seeing the president you get a lot of use. -- juice. there is charisma. it allows you to exercise power, so it makes it a sexy character by definition, and the way that comes off the screen is fun to watch. tavis: this is the kind of question people think you have to ask. i am curious, given the roots your family has in this business, to ask this question. shonda rhimes is a black woman.
if there were any doubt they have the capacity to run and lead hit shows, they have put that nonsense to rest, and given the success scandal has. as a white male, who you think about the issue of diversity? >> i think about it constantly. i think about it was a producer and director. i have been looking for a story that was a by racial love affair or a love story. i find racial politics fascinating in our country and admiring women who are real trailblazers, and i feel very fortunate to be part of a show
-- it is shocking to me that it has been 30 years since there has been an african-american as a protagonist in an hour drama. that is shocking to me, sir yes, -- so yes, i have done a pilot for the amc network with an african-american lead actor, and the themes of that show get into racial politics. it is about social justice, but it centers on an african american protagonist, the power structure of the white american, a black american, the emerging black power structure i think is exciting and sometimes very disturbing. the more it comes to the
forefront the more you see the underbelly of racism, so i think we are living in exciting times. >> i do not know to what degree they are acknowledging this. it is clear the buzz on this show is growing exponentially, the fan base is growing, the fact of you one the naacp image award shows you the black audience is checking out the show, and i raise that because you can put dramas but appeal to people of color. that is my soap box. it shows people of color can get into drama if it is done in a way that is intriguing, which takes me back to your family. let me ask how tired you get of getting asked about your family.
wyn.say the name gold wi you do not have to be a hollywood insider to know that name when you see it across the screen. are you ever incurred by its democrats not at all. when you are trying to establish your own identity, it is a weight on your shoulders you have to figure out how to carry. now that i am in the middle of my career, i feel deeply privilege to be part of a legacy like that. samuel goldwyn, talking about overcoming diversity, he left poland on foot as 14 or 15 years old, walked to america, and manage to make his way into the
turn of the last century and the one of the people who started the movie business and have a 60-year career in the movie business, to be a third generation of that, i feel deeply privilege. i have a brother who is a producer, and my father has got a great career, so it is wonderful. tavis: how did you navigate trying to figure out how your path is going to be? you decided to be an artist, and so much of this has been on the business side. it is the business side of hollywood, but you decided to go on the artistic route. >> my mother's side and was also in show business. tavis: not just in show
business. let's talk about now gone with the wind. >> my mother's father was a very successful broadway playwright, who became a screenwriter, who worked for sam goldwyn, who wrote some great screen plays as well, one of which was gone with the wind. he won an oscar the year he died. when i grew up, my mother's world was in the theater, and that is what captured my imagination and passion, and i thought i did not want to go into show business. i thought i wanted to do my own thing, and in high school i started doing plays, because that was one thing you could do for fun, and i got hooked. as a child i had a passionate love of the theater, so that is where i started. i went to acting school in
england after college and started working in regional theaters in the united states and did new york theater and kept away from hollywood at first to try to get my sea legs and try to figure out who i was and what i was about, so i worked in new york theater for a couple years and realize it would be tough to make a living if i did not have some visibility in tv, so i started doing guest shots on tv shows and tiny parts in movies, and after six years i finally got a big break. tavis: that name does not catapult you to the front of the line? >> it did not for me. it is hard as an actor, because you have got to deliver, and maybe i have neuroses about it. i did not want favors. i was not embarrassed by it, but
i was embarrassed asking for favors. once or twice my brother helped me out, so i would get a meeting, and every time i would go to one of those meetings he said of, it was awkward and embarrassing, and i did not get the job. i thought, i will do it on my own, and at the end of today that was the right choice. >> is there anybody in your family who is not in the business? >> my oldest brother is a businessman. my sister is a musician who runs a non for-profit -- a not-for- profit providing music education to underprivileged schools. >> we talk about the fact you have done and continue to do some directing.
directing, where did that come from? >> about 10 years into my career as an actor, i started to feel like i wanted to do more. i thought in 10 more years i am going to start getting bored. i did not like being at the mercy of trying to get a job. i thought i wanted more self- determination, and i wanted to do more than just to act, so i started thinking i wanted to produce a movie i would act in. i thought i would be involved in the creative process. i found something i loved but did not think it would be right to act in, but i worked with the screenwriter, and when it came to finding a director i did not want to give it to someone else. i got lucky, and dustin hoffman heard about the script, and he put a deal together to produce small films, and i got a call
saying gustin hoffman -- gustin hoffman read your script and wants to meet with you. -- dustin hoffman read your script and wants to meet with you. i directed my first film called a walk on the moon. it was a wonderful experience and led to other things. >> how weird is it when you are directing episodes of stuff you are in? >> the first couple of movies i directed i did not want to act in at all. i had a director who could help me, and i did not want to cross the line. then i was directing the l
word. the creator said, i want to write a character for you. would you consider doing it? i thought, that is a safe way to try for an episode of television, and i ended up loving it. i felt like i had a perspective on it, so i saw the overview in terms of seeing things from my character's point of view, and i did it again on dexter. tavis: how are you going to direct the president of the united states? but he will have to direct. >> that is going to be fun. "scandal" because it is such a big commitment. i directed a pilot for amc this year, and if that ends up going forward, a movie takes about a
year and a half to do. the last thing was in 2010. i am sad, but i am working on scripts, so , "scandal" finishes, i will get more into directing, so now i am glad to be acting. tavis: it might be too soon. you know what your next project is going to be? but >> i do not. i have a few television projects i am developing that we are pitching to networks, because that works out scheduling wise, but those are in the development phase. tavis: is there anything you can tell me about where this season is heading?
theomorrow's episode close doors off. one day shond -- one thing shonda daoes, she just goes crazy. this week's episode is off the charts. . you feel you have seen five episodes in one. if it was not bad enough already, it is going to get worse. tavis: the show is called "scandal." we will see what happens and in the weeks to come. good to have you on. that is our show tonight. we will see you next time. until then, goodnight, and as always, keep the faith. >> you do not know who i am.
you do not know me. he asked me to marry him. he gave me a ring. move to the country, make jam. have a normal life. twice i asked for a divorce. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with jeffrey osborn on his current network and a new cd. -- current tour and new cd. >> there is a saying that dr. always the right time to do thei try to live my life every day by doing the right thing.