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March 24, 2016 04:50 PM

So, what’s it like going to work with a bunch of gladiators? Just as awesome as you might imagine, according to Ricardo Chavira.

PEOPLE caught up with the Desperate Housewives alum, who opened up about what it’s been like to work with the stars of Scandal since he started guest-starring as Mexican-American Governor Francisco Vargas in February.

“I walk onto the set and I’m immediately greeted with a smile, a handshake and a hug from Tony Goldwyn,” Chavira, 44, tells PEOPLE of his costar, who plays President Fitzgerald “Fitz” Grant on the hit Shondaland show. “He’s been a sweetheart. And the man, I mean – my God. I’m like: ‘Dude, you are handsome as all hell!’ You know? It’s hard not to look at him!”

Though “you don’t always know what you’re going to get” during a guest-starring gig, Chavira says it’s been a dream.

“It’s just that kind of set,” Chavira says, recalling how Kerry Washington came up to him the other day and referenced an article she read about him: “It’s little things like that where you just kind of pinch yourself and you’re like: ‘Thank you for letting me be there!’ ”

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And while he couldn’t tease too much about his character, who is in the throes of being manipulated to run for president by Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry), he’s particularly pleased with the fact that he’s playing a good guy – for once!

“My character, who’s going to be potentially made – or manipulated, I should say – into an American hero. It’s unlike anything that I get to play,” he says. “You know, my characters are always seedy businessmen! So to get to play this guy who is the untainted hero is very unfamiliar territory for me – I jumped at it.”

“[Vargas] is walking around with some rose-colored glasses on,” Chavira explains. “He doesn’t have any information.”

What happens if and when his character finds out what Cyrus is up to? Chavira can’t say, but he does promise that “it’ll be very interesting.”

As for whether he’s Team Fitz or Team Jake? Neither, it turns out: “I’m just happy to be on team Scandal!”

Scandal airs Thursdays (9 p.m. ET) on ABC.

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