LOS ANGELES -- It's going to be a long, cold winter for the gladiators, and perhaps even longer for actor Joe Morton, who plays the debatably diabolical dad Rowan Pope to his political-fixer daughter, Olivia (Kerry Washington).
After the "Scandal" episode airing tonight, the series won't return with fresh installments until late February -- a scheme to avoid holiday-time ratings doldrums and also dodge competition from the upcoming Winter Olympics.
When last we left "Scandal," Sally had killed her own husband, Huck was torturing Quinn, and Liv was sending her evil mama to a continent far, far away.
Oddly enough, Morton said that wacky world feels like home.
"I was looking (to play) a really smart bad guy," said the 66-year-old actor, whose Hollywood credits include director John Sayles' revered art-house classic "The Brother From Another Planet" (1984) and the blockbusting "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991).
But the play's the thing for the Bronx-born Morton, a Tony-nominated Broadway vet who frequently has returned to work on the stage.
"What is wonderful about working on 'Scandal' is that, I believe, almost every member of the cast working on that show are all theater actors," he noted. "So what that gives us all is, certainly, a very familiar vocabulary, so that we can work much more efficiently with one another."
Actor-to-actor, Morton perhaps deals most frequently with "Scandal" star Washington, who has earned an Emmy nomination for her work on the series. On Wednesday, she garnered a Screen Actors Guild nomination for the role, and, on Thursday, picked up a Golden Globe nod.
"If Kerry never wins an award for her entire career, but she works until she feels she doesn't want to work anymore, then she's got the biggest award ever," Morton said.
With 40-plus years of hopping from live theater to television to film roles, Morton knows whereof he speaks.
But he doesn't know everything.
"When you play a character as seemingly evil as Rowan is, yes, you always have to think: 'Either they are going to let this character survive, or they're going to kill him,'" Morton explained. "So, we have to see what happens."
"Scandal" airs at 9 p.m. Thursday on ABC.