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Dan Bucatinsky celebrated his first Emmy win on Sunday for his recurring role on Scandal as White House reporter James (who also happens to be the partner to Cyrus, the President's Chief of Staff). But he's having a great year all-around, including the development deal with Scandal showrunner Shonda Rhimes to adapt his his best-selling parenting book Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? Confessions of a Gay Dad, which was published last year and exec producing Who Do You Think You Are? with pal Lisa Kudrow (who will also be playing a recurring role on Season 3 of Scandal, although details about her character—including her name and just whom she would have political ties to—are being kept under wraps). We recently spoke to Dan about all the things that have been going on. Here's the scoop:
On what to expect when Scandal returns:
The first episode of Season Three will in fact pick-up just minutes after we left off in the finale. So that, in and of itself, was huge since the show often time-jumps around. I will say that there are a lot of things that you will find satisfying in the way that they are both escalations of where we left the audience with at the end of last season and relationships are going to be tested way beyond what you can imagine.
On playing gay vs. straight roles:
In an earlier time in my career, I was very invested in playing straight. And you know, it was a form of my own closet; it was part of my transition as an actor. I’m so—now, maybe its because I’m a dad and a husband—but I feel so thrilled to be playing a character so similar to myself in life: a gay Da-Da and married. To me, it's been a real opportunity to be out there and speak on behalf of family equality and marriage equality and adoption. After I came out with my book last year, Shonda was a fan of it, and it obviously chronicles my whole experience as a gay husband and dad and all that stuff is so relevant to James.
Oh my god, great idea! I keep thinking, like, there is no way they can keep this up. Like how do they do it? And I will say that the beginning of the third season, they just keep it up. It’s amazing. Amazing!
On the similarities between Grey's Anatomy and Scandal:
On any show, the great thing is they’re like shows without a closet. Relationships can be fucked up whether you're straight or gay; and you can be married; or you can break up whether you’re straight or gay; and you can have a baby whether you’re straight or gay. So that’s never an issue. I think there is something, I don’t know, oddly subversive about normalizing them. The flaws in the characters, or their relationships, regardless of orientation or age is something I really admire that Shonda [Rhimes] does in all of her shows.
On the responsibility of playing gay on TV:
I think it’s important to show all sorts of gay people on TV. Being aspirational and inspirational about playing a gay guy on television, well, the conflict in the relationship is so much more complicated; it's about adult, sophisticated issues more than just coming out of the closet or living in a world where we’re not accepted. I mean, those things are so far in our rearview mirror. I feel so fortunate to be in a marriage on television—not only with an old Republican Chief of Staff of the President of the United States—and I’m a Democrat and he’s a Republican.
On being worried if his character might be the next one to go:
Oh my god! I spent all last season walking nervously to my seat every week wondering if today was going to be the day. Of course, Shonda told me: If I’m gonna kill you, you think I wouldn’t tell you first? Cyrus is certainly capable of doing something. We’ve seen it now. Certainly the episode where I had a gun to my head I thought that was the day I was gonna bite it. I thought, Once we got the baby, I bought myself a little bit of life. But, no, I think its very exciting but it’s a little nerve racking. But we’re all always nervous we’re the next ones to go.
On the role of Huck, which went to openly gay actor Guillermo Diaz:
When I read for Huck, I didn’t think I was right for Huck. I loved reading for it because the monologue that was written for him was so spectacular that it was such a pleasure to perform it, but I knew in my gut that it wasn’t me. And so Shonda said, “We’re gonna find something else for you.” They wound up writing James and giving it to me.
I was thrilled that Guillermo got that part. To be frank, I wasn’t that familiar with Guillermo 'til I met him on the show. So I didn’t really know if he was straight or gay and found out that he was gay, and it's fantastic. I don’t think she hired him to play Huck because he was straight or gay—it's because he was the perfect actor for that part. And he is. I cannot imagine another actor to play that part. And that he happens to be gay is awesome.
On when we will see Lisa Kudrow pop up in Scandal:
She’s a huge fan and certainly loves to watch the show. I’m always telling Shonda to do it. It would be a blast.
Scandal returns on October 3 on ABC