scott foley teaches you how to get away with murder

felicity's #1 babe takes a dark turn.

photo courtesy of tribeca films

Scott Foley isn’t just the heartthrob from Felicity or the good-boy-turned-bad from Scandal. He’s now an indie filmmaker; with his debut Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife coming out this month. With a stellar cast featuring Patrick Wilson, Amy Acker, Nicollette Sheridan, Dagmara Dominczyk, James Carpinello and Donald Faison, the film is a dark comedy about being careful what you wish for.

Ward’s (Faison) wife Stacy (Dominczyk) sucks. She’s mean, neurotic and his friends, who try to be supportive, straight up hate her. When Ward’s pal David (Wilson) jokes about taking her out, the idea accidentally turns into a reality. When a mistake involving a birthday cake and a slippery floor leaves Tom (Foley) hovering over her dead body, the friends must band together to fix a messy problem.

Nylon got to a chance to chat with Foley about working with an extremely close cast. Patrick Wilson is Foley’s brother-in-law. Amy Acker is married to Carpinello, who produced the film along with Wilson. Foley’s wife, Marika Dominczyk is also in the film. Sorry ladies, yes, he’s taken.

Foley reveals the madness behind making a truly riotous film; his role as the director and how perhaps making a film about killing is related to his character on Scandal. If you don’t know about Jake, let’s just say he may be cute, but he may be evil.

Foley is ready to take risks and we’re all for it. Oh, and regarding his Jimmy Kimmel Mean Tweets sketch…he has something to say to all the haters…

This movie is so gnarly. I love to see filmmakers taking risks. Where did the idea begin?

I wish I could tell you that I had one friend whose wife was a crazy bitch and I wanted to kill her but I didn’t. [Laughs] It happened a few years ago, I had been married for a while and some of my closest guy friends were getting married and my relationship with them was starting to change. I sat down to write this story about a group of friends that begins to fracture after marriage. I didn’t really have a direction. I plan out a beginning and an end but I don’t put a beat sheet down of how I’m going to get there. When I looked up, I had written this gruesome, dry, really dark comedy. It sort of took on a life of its own. 

Patrick Wilson and James Carpinello’s company Lost Rhino Films produced. What did they think when you sent them the script? It’s pretty off the wall.

It’s funny; the person to call me back first was James. He said, ‘Dude I f***ing love this thing we have to make it!’ Patrick called me back and was like, ‘It’s pretty good. Does she have to die? Do we have to kill her?’[Laughs] He was probably more pragmatic with looking forward and thinking about audience and reactions. I had to do some tweaks and add some conflict here and there. For the most part, the response was pretty good. 

It’s amazing that at the same time you’re playing a killer on Scandal, you write a movie about killing. Were the two psychologically intertwined at all?

Maybe! I didn’t think about that. I’m sure it had something to do with it! I love Scandal and I love the character I play but it’s impossible not to take on some of that mentality on a daily basis. I’m sure that this played a role in doing [the film]. There was a scene in Scandal where Olivia did something and Jake grabbed her by the throat and pushed her up against the wall. The people on social media just could not believe it! He’s an abuser! He’s a horrible person! Then I saw the film where I choke this woman and I thought these people are going to go to town on me! I’m sure that the mental place I was in had something to do with where I was writing this.

Unlike Jake, though, the people in Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife are just normal. They’re actors, journalists and here they are acting like Dexter! Did you have to do some research to get into that mindset? Late night Googling?

Oh yea! I probably spent a whole day or two just looking at different ways, these sites three people have ever gone to, to dispose of a body. If you put a body in kitty litter, it will completely dissolve it. Bones and all! There are amazing things you can learn. I’m truly shocked there wasn’t a knock on my door like, ‘Mr. Foley?’ [Laughs] There were great ideas I wanted to get in there. I love the idea that Patrick’s character really found a passion. He’s been struggling in his every day life, for whatever reason this idea hooked him. We really saw him find his passion again and in a strange way save his marriage. 

The film is a total family affair. Everyone’s wives, your brother-in-law, act together! How did that affect making the film?

It was a double-edged sword, honestly. It was great to go to work every day with my wife, her sister and her brother-in-law. It was a very incestuous set! These are all close friends and family. On the one hand, it’s fantastic to see them every day. On the other hand, challenging. There’s a certain air of comfort that people feel that, as a director, if I say, ‘I think you’re feeling this way in a scene,’ they say, ‘No. We’re doing it this way.’ 

I picture Amy Acker and Donald Faison doing that, interjecting their ideas, Falson with comedy and Acker with character motivations. Was it collaborative? 

Every single scene was collaborative. There are times when someone would come onto set and would say, ‘I totally rewrote this scene!’ I’d have to say, ‘Oh that’s great but we’re not re-writing the script.’ It was hard to say, ‘Bring what you want to bring as an actor and producer,’ in regard to Patrick and James, but there has to be a line. That was difficult sometimes. Especially with my wife! We were working on a very limited budget with a shoestring crew. It was 12 days to shoot! It was crazy! I learned so much doing this film. To do a film on such a shoestring budget with 18 locations was so stupid on my part, but it turned out alright! 

Has your work as an actor helped being a director?

I’m very in tune, especially as an actor, with what I look for from a director. I’ve been lucky enough, throughout the last 15 years, to direct numerous episodes of episodic TV. I knew I could bring a bit of that knowledge to the set. The most important thing for me was the performances. I knew that all of these people, I trusted them with the words I had written. 

There are some scenes that are just a riot! What was the most fun to film?

The whole day that we filmed Stacy’s death, where I got to smash my sister-in-law’s face in the cake, was such a great day! [Dagmara] was such a trooper. We did The Violet Hour together [on Broadway] and I’ve watched her in everything from The Count of Monte Cristo to this HBO series she just did, but I’ve never seen her as good as she is in Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife. 

This film is super brave and super hilarious. Are you worried that it will be polarizing, or is that sort of liberating?

I don’t know if I’m to the liberating part yet! I’m a little worried about it. I come from this world of television where you look for a good reaction one way or another. I’m a little worried about how people see me after this, but I think that’s a good thing. I think it’s going to open people’s minds to me and question me. I don’t know if they’ve questioned me before. 

Is this work a rebellion against people that treat you badly, you or your friends? I’m sure you’ve had to deal with that in your career.

I think you can’t be afraid, especially in this business. If you’re a Scandal watcher, I had a scene the other day when I had to dance. The only thing more terrifying than having your shirt off in front of 16 million people is having to dance! That is something that is happening in this film, for the characters. They all have to deal with this horrendous thing and put their fears aside and get to work. 

You went on Jimmy Kimmel and participated in the Mean Tweets sketch. Yours was, ‘I hate that Scandal cast Scott Foley. He is TV poison for one thing, and he is a f***ing creep with raper face.’ I feel like whoever wrote that should watch this film! What’s your response to haters?

Look, I think especially raper face— I don’t even think that’s a term! I think my response to the 12 year old that wrote that would be to stay in school! [Laughs] My response to the haters in general, because of social media and the character I play in Scandal—keep hating. I will take it! I truly believe it. I have no problem and I embrace it because it means you’re looking!