The longer that Scandal—ABC’s can’t-miss cloak and dagger series—is on the air, the more confusing it gets. As the show’s fourth season premieres, the intricate web of secrets, lies and secret identities has become so complex that even the most dedicated viewer might have trouble remembering who’s a hero and who’s a villain.
One character whose role is never quite so clean cut is David Rosen, a former assistant U.S. attorney who has veered slightly off course thanks to his involvement with Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and her motley crew of ethically questionable employees.
Here, Joshua Malina, who plays Rosen, discusses the new season, how he interacts with fans and which colleague is next on his must-prank list.
Of course you guys are all about secrecy, but I’ve got to ask: What’s happening with David Rosen in this coming season?
I can’t really tell you anything, but I can say that David continues with his career ups and downs. The focus of the storyline so far this season is on my job, and I can say that I’ve also gotten to work with some of the actors I don’t normally work with; I’m tossed into other storylines and that’s been fun for me.
How much of the fourth season have you filmed so far?
Tomorrow we wrap the sixth episode.
OK, so you’re still in the dark as to the end of the season?
I’m completely in the dark after episode six. The nature of the thing is that you find out one episode at a time; you find out the day before you start shooting it, and beyond that you know nothing. I don’t even know how much the writers know ahead of time, either. I’d be surprised if the writers and Shonda [Rhimes] know where the season is going to end up.
Are you preparing to get back into the Twitterverse with all of these people who live for Thursday nights with you guys?
Absolutely. Yeah, I love it. I love the hardcore fans; I love the people who hate me. I really enjoy all of it. I like to help rile them up and direct their hate mail on Scott Foley’s character rather than mine. One of the drawbacks of doing TV is that you don’t really get any feedback until long after something is aired, or that’s at least how it used to be. But now you get feedback while you’re doing the show from people telling you how bad you are. As long as you have thick skin and a sense of humor, it’s thoroughly enjoyable.
Do you ever have to stop yourself from engaging?
I’m not like that. I don’t feel that I have to let it go at all. I try to use a sense of humor and if I ever were actually offended I probably wouldn’t engage, but I’m happy to descend to the level of anybody who wants to interact with me.
Do you think you get the same thing in real life?
Absolutely. I’ve been in a lot of things over the past 25 years, but I’ve never been in anything where people stopped me this often or with this kind of enthusiasm. And, unlike on Twitter, people don’t come up and say, ‘God; you’re horrible, why are you in that show?’
David’s had one of the more major transformations over the seasons of the show. How do you think he’s changed the most?
I would argue that he’s the only character that is even remotely a good person. I will say his purity has taken him from a white hat to like a light gray one, and it could be getting darker as time goes on. He’s smart and sharp enough to realize from where he started at the beginning of the series, to get things done, he needs to learn from Olivia Pope and others that you’ve maybe got to let go of your pure idealism and deal with the technicalities of the world—and sometimes that involves doing unpleasant things.
At this point you’ve developed a reputation as an on-set prankster, right?
That’s what I hear.
Has that gotten in the way of you getting away with your tricks?
Yeah, I would say. I’m the first one suspected if anything goes wrong or goes on. But the prankster has to operate, so having a light shining on you is not a great thing. There used to be a time when I got away with things, but basically everyone knows now that every time they leave their computer open in the trailer, or lend me their phones, I’m going to go onto their Twitter accounts and I’m going to tweet ‘I’m horny.’ Now nobody is going to lend me their phone or let me use their computer.
Is there anyone who you’re still waiting to get?
It’s not fair to have to answer that question, but Shonda would be the big one. There’s a fine line to figure out a way to prank Shonda where on the other side of it, I still have a job and Shonda has been amused rather than enraged, so I hope I can before the entire series wraps up.