The best friend vibes between Katie Lowes and Guillermo Diaz are going strong as the Scandal pals delve into the second episode of the show and establish a rhythm for the podcast. For their premiere episode, they had the unstoppable Shonda Rhimes as a guest. This week, Lowes and Diaz are by themselves, giving a more detailed breakdown of the episode they’re rewatching, as well as more day-to-day behind-the-scenes details.
Huck reveals the bit of Scandal he took home.
Credit: Shondaland / ABC Studios / Kobal / Shutterstock
The wall of cracked windows in the conference room is a centerpiece of the OPA office and was frequently used to tack up photos of clients or various suspects — a sort of highly symbolic (those cracks!) version of a yarn wall. Diaz got permission to take home a window panel as a memento, which he still has in his home.
“It’s right at the entrance of the house, on the wall….It’s one of my favorite things that I have in my house,” he said.
“It makes me sleep better at night, knowing that you have one of the window panes,” Lowes declared. “And our OPA conference table desk is the main conference room table at Shondaland Offices in Hollywood… I was there once before COVID, and I walked past the big conference room, and it’s the OPA conference table that you and I boned on!”
They cracked up. “We sure did,” Diaz teased. But that’s for a much, much later episode!
The writers’ room was psychic, maybe.
“You know what’s so lovely [about rewatching], I can see what the writers were seeing about Huck taking Quinn under his wing,” Lowes said, “You can already see I always go to you. Abby’s just so mean to Quinn, it’s insane and great and lovely and I love it, and Harrison just doesn’t have time because he’s Mr. Man About Town, and you’re really the only person — “
Diaz added, “Katie, do you remember we used to talk while we were filming the show, like, how do the writers know and how does Shonda know our relationships? Because you and I started to get really close, and then we’d be like, are there microphones in our trailers? And then we’d see it…reflected in the scripts, right? We were like, how did they know?!”
“They have got to have bugged the makeup trailer!” Lowes agreed. “On sets, makeup trailers are where a lot of shit-talking gets done, and that’s mostly because you’re there at 5 o’clock in the morning, your makeup and hair people are the ones that are closest to your face at all times — like, when you’re on your period, when you’ve had a rough night… So, the makeup trailer just sort of becomes this place — and I was like, this shit has gotta be bugged! Because… we would have relationships forming and trust things happening, and then we would see them 100 percent reflected in scripts down the road.”
How did Scandal find its breakneck pace?
Shonda Rhimes and the Scandal writers’ room had nothing on the Gilmore Girls when it came to packing a lot of information into not a lot of onscreen time. Lowes and Diaz discussed how much time they spent running lines behind the scenes and in their downtime.
“We were really studious, and we would drill lines [in the makeup trailers]!” laughed Lowes.
“We had to! We had to Scandal pace our dialogue,” Diaz said. “It first started because the scripts were so long, right? And there were so many words that I think it was Shonda that said, ‘You guys have to talk fast to get all this stuff out,’ and that’s, I think, where it started. But then we all discovered little by little that the faster you speak — I mean, the intention [matters], and we’re still acting under the fast pace, but every time it made the scene better. Every single time! Even beyond Scandal. Sometimes I’m on sets, I’m like, ‘Y’all gotta speed that shit up!'”
Diaz admitted that although they had a lot of fun while filming, he spent a ton of time just running lines. “There was no room to mess up.”
The secret about Lindsay Dwyer was there was no secret (yet).
Credit: Shondaland / ABV Studios / Kobal / Shutterstock
The ongoing subplot about Amanda Tanner requires Quinn to make a little confession to the young woman about having her own dark past, in an attempt to get Amanda to trust her — and return to OPA, natch. The title of the episode is, after all, “Dirty Little Secrets,” and Quinn certainly has a few herself.
Lowes recalled, “Amanda Tanner and I meet, I think, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and we get a glimpse into Quinn’s past, which is Lindsay Dwyer, and I say, Quinn says something like, ‘I was in trouble once. A lot of people wanted to…I was in trouble. I was alone, and it was awful.’ Now, you think we’re getting a glimpse into Quinn Perkins’ past, but at that point, the writers’ room did not know what Quinn’s past was!”
“Nobody knew where that was gonna go!” Diaz exclaimed.
“They didn’t know!” Lowes declared. “They didn’t know! So what I think is interesting is that things were already being built, but I also sometimes wonder if I had played it differently. Like, I played it as truth, like, Quinn does have this thing, this secret. But I could have played it as like, I’m tricking her. Like I’m making it up —”
“Just to get her to be a client, yeah,” Diaz agreed.
“Because Olivia told me to, and I always am like, wow, had I been playing [it like that], would things have been different? Who knows.”
The secret behind shooting Scandal that fooled us all is right in plain sight.
Most of Scandal was actually filmed in Los Angeles, on various soundstages, so scenes like the ones Lowes described above were filmed in local parks, with monuments later added with digital effects.
“When you see the Lincoln Memorial and other historical sites in DC, that’s all greenscreen! The team that did that were so freaking talented, too, because remember people would come up to us all the time like, ‘You guys shoot the show in DC?'” Diaz gushed.
“People still think that now!” Lowes exclaimed. (Uh, I certainly did!)
“We would always be outside in parks, all over L.A., and then they would have this massive greenscreen that they would then superimpose, like you’re saying, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, whatever, the Mall, and we would be dressed in coats, sweating balls,” Lowes laughed.
“In California, where it never gets cold, excerpt for today,” Diaz agreed.
“And Lyn Paolo — we’re going to have her on too, she’s an amazing costume designer — Lyn Paolo, she I think just set the world. I don’t know if that was her choice or Shonda’s choice, that it was just a ‘forever fall’… which means we’re just like always in peacoats, a scarf. Olivia’s obviously in the most incredible gloves you’ve ever seen in your entire life that go up to her elbow, but a lot of times we’d be in 110 degrees, in a wool coat — the chafing that was going on in my pencil skirts! I deserve all the acting awards, people!” Lowes joked.
Unpacking the Toolbox wraps up with some other factoids about the show, a continuity error or two, and a look back at some tweets from when the show aired live. (Remember when live-tweeting was so fun because Twitter actually worked and wasn’t a broken toy abandoned in a tantrum by its owner? Sigh!)
New episodes of Unpacking the Toolbox drop every Thursday. Scandal is currently streaming on Hulu.
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