In the fact-based psychological thriller “Final Vision,” Scott Foley goes dark — very dark — as Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, the Army doctor convicted in 1979 of murdering his pregnant wife and two children. The film centers on the crime and the trial, as well as writer Joe McGinniss, who started work on his book “Final Vision” at MacDonald’s request.
Foley is familiar with military types. On “Scandal,” he plays one with plenty of issues.
Things are never what they seem on the ABC drama, and this season his character, Jake Ballard, has been Olivia Pope’s sounding board, moral compass and part-time love interest.
“I know that people expect a certain thing of me as an actor,” Foley said. “People see a tall, handsome, semi-in-shape guy who maybe has it all together. When, truth be told, I was up at 5 a.m. with my kids, I’ve got eggs in my hair. I’m most comfortable when I can make fun of myself.”
The times when he starts feeling uncomfortable? When all eyes are on him.
“I’m a blusher,” he said. “And it’s something that happens to me regularly.”
On camera, “usually I have enough makeup on to cover it,” he said. “But when I’m in an audition or I’m standing up to give a speech or something, that’s when I blush. ... It starts in my neck, and it goes to my cheeks and it won’t go down for 10 minutes.”
His worst episode came while auditioning for a movie role with director Mimi Leder. “I don’t even remember what movie it was. It might have been for [the 1998 film] ‘Deep Impact.’ I’m not a very good auditioner, but I was excited to go read for her.
“When you go into an audition, there’s usually five minutes of banter. Then it’s like, ‘OK, the small talk is over, you need to step up and do your thing now.’ I’ve prepared, and I know the lines and it’s all good.
“And so I start, and right away I can feel that I’m getting warm and blushing. About halfway through the audition, I’m red, and I’m sweating a little bit and I thought, ‘It’s OK, it’s happened before, just make your way through it.’
“I got a couple more sentences in when Mimi Leder said, ‘I have to stop you right now. ... I need you to sit down. I’m afraid you’re going to pass out.’
“And I tried to joke about it: ‘No, no! I just, uh — I’m not nervous! I just start to sweat and blush, but let me keep going.’
“After that, I lost my [cool] completely. I couldn’t find the words. I started stammering. I’m thinking, ‘Oh, God, she did “ER,” and I loved “ER”! And now she’s doing these big films!’ Every single thing you’re not supposed to think when you’re doing an audition, I thought it.
“But I kept going. And then she stopped me again: ‘Scott?’ And I just looked at her and said, ‘Yeah, I know.’ And she sort of nodded her head, and I nodded my head back and I left the room — and that was the last time I’ve ever seen Mimi Leder.
“But it is one of those moments that I will never forget. Even now it still happens. We had a table read at ‘Scandal’ the other day, and some of the stage directions include songs. Usually the group will sing them, but nobody knew these songs except for me. So I found myself singing alone to this Michael McDonald song ‘What a Fool Believes’ — in Michael McDonald’s voice.
“Kerry Washington just turned and looked at me. I was like, ‘How red am I?’ and she was like, ‘You’re red.’ ”