Everyone's favorite fictional FLOTUS is finally taking center stage!
Tonight's episode of Scandal is a big one for Mellie (Bellamy Young), with the hour even being named after her ("Everything's Coming Up Mellie"), and the actress behind her is both excited and terrified.
"I mean, it was like the greatest acting gift ever," she admits to us, "It's so humbling to be trusted with a script like that, but also terrifying because you want to do a great job, because the script is so beautiful, and you want to carry their vision across the goal line."
While Young was told beforehand that she would have a little bit more to do than usual, she found out just how much she would have to do at the same time as everyone else. "It was an emotional, sobering, exciting, but just incredible table read," she recalls. (In fact, the episode is so good that creator/showrunner Shonda Rhimes changed her Twitter background to a picture of Young out of pure excitement. No big deal, right? "It was amazing," Young admits.)
So what exactly will be going down in the episode for Mellie? Young played coy, but says viewers can expect a lot of flashbacks. "I just enjoyed getting to find out how Mellie got to be Mellie, because she is a very particular woman with a very particular arsenal, with a very particular view on life, and I know I do it all the time–you meet someone and you assume you know who they are from meeting them in that moment," she explains. "I hope that they'll learn a lot more about Mellie, and I hope it makes you see her in a new light."
Mellie has already had a particularly juicy season so far, thanks in part to one memorable scene in which she drunkenly but heartbreakingly explains to Fitz why she's glad Olivia Pope wasn't killed in the suicide bombing. While it looked fun to do, acting believably drunk is no easy task.
"I ran straight to my acting coach because playing drunk on screen can go so wrong," the actress tells us. "It's an extra layer, because you don't want to over play it or it looks cheesy and fake. Actors just live in fear that you don't believe us. We just want you to believe us, because we want you not to notice us, ultimately, and just listen to the story."
Young was completely surprised by viewers' response to that scene. Some fans even dressed up as Drunk Mellie for Halloween! While she's amazed, she also completely understands. "I think people are just so happy to see Mellie without her armor for a moment… She was so loving and so vicious and so relieved and so worried all at once."
And the star reveals a little acting trick that helped her get through the scene: "At the end of the day, I just have to live in Goldwyn's eyes... I just have to look at him, and he's allergic to any sort of artifice. I mean, he's the most honest, naturalistic actor I've worked with ever. He's a beautiful actor, so I just live in his eyes and try and tell him the truth, and get my truth across to him, and, you know, let everything else kind of fall where it does."
Speaking of the hottest fictional POTUS ever, Young says she truly believes he and Mellie should be together. "I think Mellie's goal is to maintain her life as she knows it. I mean her identity in her mind is so well-constructed. In her reality, you know it's maybe like quicksand, like she's dancing in quicksand. But in her mind, she loves Fitz, and they are married, and they have a happy family, and they are the First Lady and the President," she explains. "All of this is sort of an inextricable web of who Mellie is, so I think in every moment, she is trying to see what little concession she can get with Liv, or what little hope she might find by taking any little kindness from Fitz."
But the bitterness between Young and Kerry Washington's characters definitely stays on-screen; when we asked if she enjoyed seeing her pregnant costar host SNL, Young gushes, "Laugh out loud hilarity. That [What Does My Girl Say] video? We've been enjoying the original video [What Does The Fox Say?] on set. It's hilarious. But that is next level...It's so good because she is so gifted in dramas, you know, so we were happy to see her cut loose," Young says of her costar. "Those sketches were just so smart but so funny. Kerry is just a real light in this world."
Scandal airs tonight at 10 p.m. on ABC.