Scandal fans are in for a lot of Papa Pope on Thursday — and PEOPLE has a sneak peek clip!
“This season is all about who killed Frankie Vargas,” actor Joe Morton, who plays Olivia’s (Kerry Washington) father Rowan, tells PEOPLE of his ABC hit drama. “Now we’re going to see see the events around Frankie’s assassination from Rowan’s point of view.”
Morton first appeared as Papa Pope at the end of season 2 of Shonda Rhimes‘ White House drama. But even in season 6, the actor says he only knows as much as the fans do about his character.
“The only two things we have to go on are what is in front of us on the script,” he says. “I have a lot of history to pull from and things I can ascertain from his relationships, but I can only base that off what we’ve seen him do up to this point.”
Morton knows his character is seen as a villain, but he points out that Rowan’s relationship with his daughter has always been what humanizes him.
“The dynamic between Olivia and Rowan is so interesting. It’s competitive. It’s aggressive. Its combative. It’s all those things,” he says. “But at the end of the day, it’s a father-daughter relationship where there is love involved — despite the fact she’s tried to kill him a few times.”
But he says the animosity is not mutual.
“If you think back on it, he’s never tried to kill her. He’s never put her in a position where her life is in danger. If anything, he’s been there for her in many ways. He’s put this protective, invisible gauze over her,” Morton adds. “The interesting part of that is, if she says, ‘I don’t want your help,’ he says, ‘Fine. You’re on your own and if things don’t turn out the way you want them to, it’s on you.’ He’s raised this woman to be independent – even if that means being against him.”
Morton says fans equally fear and revere papa Pope for his domineering demeanor.
“Some people are leery of coming up to me on the street, but I get a lot of responses from fans who love Papa Pope,” he says. “They know he’s dangerous, but they love the character. They love this man who has so much power.”
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The actor says his Twitter feed blew up last week when Rowan was seen being put in his place by a mysterious woman who seemingly outranked him in power.
“When it looked like Papa Pope was being told by someone else what to do, there were a lot of people saying, ‘Oh no. this can’t happen. No one talks to papa pope that way,’ ” he says. “It’s interesting. I think on one hand, people love to be terrified by him. He’s this very dangerous individual but at the same time I think people pick up that he’s human and has fears and loves and desires. He’s not just mean, evil and cruel.”
Morton promises that fans will soon learn who the mysterious woman is — and that there are a lot more surprises in store.
“I think you’ll have a good time this Thursday but what is coming up is really exciting,” he says. “I think what’s coming down the pike is going to be some of the most surprising twists we’ve had on Scandal. I’m looking forward to getting to share that.”
Scandal airs Thursdays (9 p.m. ET) on ABC.