‘Whiskey Cavalier’ – Scott Foley Interview on Playing an FBI Agent in ABC’s New Action Series

Whiskey Cavalier Episode 1
Ana Ortiz, Scott Foley, Vir Das, Lauren Cohan and Tyler James Williams in episode 1 (ABC/Larry D. Horricks)

ABC’s Whiskey Cavalier is your next will they/won’t they TV coupling. Scott Foley (Scandal) plays FBI Agent Will Chase. Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead) plays CIA Agent Frankie Trowbrige. It’s not just their agencies that are at odds, they both have their own way of saving the world but they’re going to have to work together.

The action-packed show films in Prague and all around Europe, but Foley and Cohan came to Los Angeles for the Television Critics Association panel on Whiskey Cavalier. We spoke with Foley more after the panel about all the tropes of hour-long action-comedy. Whiskey Cavalier premieres on February 27, 2019 at 10pm ET/PT on ABC.

What are some of the tropes you’re trying to change with this show?

Scott Foley: “For me, I have a hard time relating to the sort of, I don’t want to say soulless, but the tough don’t show your heart characters. To play one who is willingly open about his emotions and his feelings is so much more interesting and one I relate to much more.”

How so?

Scott Foley: “How so? There’s more to do. I can laugh, I can cry instead of just having sort of deadpan face looking over a body thinking we’ve got to figure this out. There’s things to relate to. It’s like being a person.”

Are you a crier in real life? What makes you emotional?

Scott Foley: “I think I’m emotional like Will. I think Will is more of a real life character than the tropes you see on other shows, if that makes sense. Am I a crier in real life? When I have to be. When it gets me what I want.”

How many days a week did you work on Scandal?

Scott Foley: “On Scandal? I was there probably four or five days a week.”

Any hesitation to take a lead role that’s there the whole time?

Scott Foley: “No, no. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. I’ve been fortunate enough to be doing this for 25 years or so. Mostly in the drama space, so I was well aware of the workload that was coming my way. I‘m still young enough I can pull it off for a couple more years.”

How’s your frequent flyer miles?

Scott Foley: “I don’t get to fly as much as you’d think. We’re sort of stuck over there. A little puddle jump here and there but for the most part, it’s all in Prague. We’ve shot in London and Paris, I’m stuck in Prague. It’s a rough life, man. It’s a rough life. I’ve got three kids in school over there, my wife’s over there, we love it. It’s great.”

The whole family moved to Prague for this?

Scott Foley: “Yeah, what do you mean for this? This is it. I grew up overseas. My wife and I talked about giving our kids the opportunity to do the same thing. This came along and we’re jumping at it. We’re done filming our 13 episodes the beginning of March but my kids are in school until June. So we’ll stay and we’ll travel around.”

Do you get to see your family with all this this work?

Scott Foley: “It is labor intensive. I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like but the fact that they’re there with me, I can go into their rooms at night after they’re in bed, give ‘em a kiss or see them in the morning before I go. It’s important.”

Is playful the toughest tone to hit?

Scott Foley: “It’s been a hard tone. The one thing we wanted this show to be was fun. Obviously, everybody has their own idea of what fun is, but finding the tone of this has been, by far, the hardest thing. You get on these notes calls with executives and they’re drama executives because we’re doing an hour-long show. They want less jokes and more spy stuff. You get on set and let’s push the spy stuff away and find some more jokes. That’s the fun stuff for us and that’s really where the characters live. The spy stories are what take us from the beginning to the end, but the characters live in those comedic moments and that’s really important for us.”

What fun stuff is coming up?

Scott Foley: “Oh, what fun stuff isn’t coming up? We’re shooting episode 12 of 13 right now. You’ll get to see us in London. I’m living a dream here. I’m jumping off bridges. Lauren and I drove a motorboat under the London Tower Bridge on the Thames. We’ve shot at the Tate Modern. We have huge ski set pieces that we’re shooting in Austria.”

Do you say no sometimes?

Scott Foley: “I’m so glad I’m not riding a motorcycle down a staircase, but look, I’m 46 years old. I try to do as much as I can myself but there are times when I know that okay, I’d rather not have knee surgery in the off season so I’m gonna let you do that, buddy, because that’s your job.”

Do you feel like James Bond?

Scott Foley: “Yeah, but having more fun. James Bond gets to do all my stuff but I get to tell a joke every now and then, although he does have a couple cracks, doesn’t he?”

Whiskey Cavalier Episode 1
Scott Foley and Lauren Cohan in ‘Whiskey Cavalier’ (ABC/Larry D. Horricks)

How do you stay energized for such a physical job?

Scott Foley: “You would think it’s fairly complicated. I’ve been so busy in Prague. I’m wearing a suit from Scandal that’s a little big because I haven’t been to the gym in six months. I don’t have time to go to the gym. The fight rehearsals and dealing with all the stunts keeps me in fairly decent shape and my day is full. If I’ve got a scene that’s off, I’m doing a fight rehearsal with the stunt guys, working the next big set piece or I’m in a wardrobe fitting. It’s a busy gig and like I said to you earlier, I knew what I was getting into. I’m happy to have it.”

Was there one moment you were like, “What the hell have I gotten myself into?”

Scott Foley: “During the pilot, the second day. It was 10 below zero Celsius. With the windchill it was like 17 below. I was basically wearing this. I had three layers of long underwear on. They’d yell cut and the hair and makeup women would come to me with those hot water bottles that your grandmother uses, and I woke up the next day wind burned and exhausted and I thought I might rather be in prison. This is pretty bad.”

How often do you go home hurt?

Scott Foley: “All the time. All the time. I go home bruised and sore and limping and cold. Then my wife tells me shut up and deal with it. ‘I’m the lead of a show, we’re in Prague on an ABC TV show, you’re going to be just fine,’ and she’s right.”

Have a lot of your relatives come out to visit the set?

Scott Foley: “Yes, yes, all the Polish family. In my house.”

Do they want to be on the show?

Scott Foley: “They might. It’s not going to happen. Part of the deal of us going to Prague, my wife Marika’s on the show, she’s an actress with a fairly successful career. She said to me, ‘I can’t miss pilot season. I can’t miss getting jobs because you want to go.’ I told Peter Roth, ‘What if she’s on the show?’ He basically said, ‘If you’ll shoot in Prague, you can put your whole family on the show.’ So I’m going to put my whole family. The kids are next.”

What’s the dynamic while you’re shooting with her?

Scott Foley: “We had many conversations. We’ve worked together before in the past and it was not a great experience. The first time we ever worked together, we had a scene on a show called The Unit years ago. We were blocking it out, the director was saying, ‘Scott, you’re going to come from over here and then you guys will have a kiss here.’ I said, ‘That all sounds good except I don’t think I come from here,’ and I had some sort of reason. In the middle of me explaining it, my wife said, ‘Will you just come from where he wants you to come from?’ I said, ‘Okay, sure.’ I was like, ‘Babe, we’re at work. You talk to me like that at home but you can’t do that at work.’ And we had that conversation before here, and it didn’t seem to matter. She still talks to me like that.”

Is that hard when you combine that and leave the home stuff at home?

Scott Foley: “It is. You can’t. You can’t leave it at home. In between takes we’re talking about kids and school and did you pack the lunch? Just life is there but we’ve reconciled and it’s working out really well.”

A lot of us treat our jobs as an escape. You can’t do that.

Scott Foley: “No, it’s hard to. On Scandal, I’m guilty of being the guy who, if my call time was 10am, I’d tell my wife, ‘Oh babe, they need me at 7am.’ I’d go and take a nap in my trailer. We have little kids.”

What stunts get you really excited and which are like oh no, not again?

Scott Foley: “Driving stuff makes me really excited because I get to sit in a car. Fighting is exhausting because it’s not just me and you fighting. It’s me fighting all of you guys and they’re all professional stuntmen and I’m not a professional fighter. The stunt guys map out the entire fight before I even get there and then they show me a video of it. It’s daunting. My stunt guy, Pavel, is a professional kickboxer. So he’ll show me a video of him kicking a guy in the face. I’m like, ‘My leg doesn’t get up that high. I don’t know how you do it.’ So they just get me a shorter stunt guy.”