“You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” The truth behind Viola Davis‘s instantly canonic line, spoken during her best actress acceptance speech at the Emmy Awards on Sunday, was echoed in Capitol File magazine’s interview with Scandal’s Joe Morton.
Here’s what Papa Pope has to say about the character portfolio he built up during his years in the business:
Most of my career has been spent playing good guys. When I first started in this business, a lot of the characters that were being offered to black men in particular were drug dealers, and pimps and boogeymen of all sorts and my response was: I’ll try to put together a body of work of black men who are not boogeymen. Not that I was completely adverse to it if there was something that made sense story-wise, or that was important to the story in terms of character development. But if not, I wasn’t interested. Then this came along, actually at a time when I was looking to do a very smart, very intelligent, bad guy. And this fit the bill perfectly.
While Morton’s character, Rowan Pope, has had run-ins with the show’s fictional president and first lady, Morton himself has met the real deal, in very different circumstances than those of his character. “At one point the First Lady and I sort of caught each other’s eye,” Rowan says, describing a moment during the White House Correspondents’ dinner, “and she made a gesture, she mouthed how much she loved the character and hoped that I would not be killed off. So I mouthed back, ‘Write a letter to Shonda [Rhimes].'”
Read the full interview here.