George Newbern is undergoing somewhat of a career renaissance.
25 years after starring in "Father of the Bride" as Kim Williams' future husband, Newbern is entrenched in the hottest pocket of the broadcast television schedule as Charlie on Shonda Rhimes' "Scandal."
Now in its sixth season, "Scandal" has garnered near constant buzz online throughout its run, and Newbern considers himself "lucky" to be part of that. Initially brought on as a hired assassin that would pop in and out of the show, his character is now a constant presence on the show as both Quinn's love interest and a de facto employee of O.P.A.
I recently caught up with George Newbern on the phone to discuss his time on "Scandal," why he considers himself a "prude" when it comes to sex scenes and what it was like going out to lunch with the star-studded cast of "Father of the Bride."
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George Newbern through the years
George Newbern through the years
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 23: Actor George Newbern attends Kari Feinstein's Pre-Oscar Style Lounge at the Andaz Hotel on February 23, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alison Buck/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 11: Actor George Newbern attends 21st Annual Art Directors Guild's Excellence In Production Design Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 11, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 11: Actor George Newbern speaks onstage at 21st Annual Art Directors Guild's Excellence In Production Design Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 11, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Actor George Newbern attends Variety and Women in Film's Pre-Emmy Celebration at Gracias Madre on September 16, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
SCANDAL - 'They All Bow Down' - Jake and Vanessa's messy relationship poses a threat to the campaign, forcing Olivia to take action. Meanwhile, a game-changing revelation about the conspiracy surrounding Francisco Vargas's assassination is revealed, on 'Scandal,' airing THURSDAY, MARCH 9 (9:01-10:00 p.m. EST), on the ABC Television Network. (Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images)
GEORGE NEWBERN, KATIE LOWES, KERRY WASHINGTON, GUILLERMO DIAZ
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 08: Actor George Newbern (C) attends the HBO Luxury Lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Mediaplacement)
CULVER CITY, CA - NOVEMBER 15: Actor George Newbern attends the 2nd Annual Save A Child's Heart Gala at Sony Pictures Studios on November 15, 2015 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Actor George Newbern attends the Screen Actors Guild Foundation 30th Anniversary Celebration at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on November 5, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: Actor George Newbern attends ABC's TGIT premiere event on September 26, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
SCANDAL - 'I See You' - Olivia continues to spy on Jake while the gladiators have to fend for themselves. Meanwhile, Susan and Mellie are feeling the pressure as their campaigns heat up; Abby begins to question Cyrus' motives; and a blast from the past surprises everyone, on an all-new 'Scandal,' THURSDAY MARCH 17 (9:00-10:00 p.m. EDT) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Jordin Althaus/ABC via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 19: George Newbern attends EcoLuxe Lounge #ChristmasinSeptember Presented By Shriners Hospitals For Children LA on September 19, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: (L-R) Actors Jeff Perry, Aja Naomi King, and George Newbern attend the Celebration of ABC's TGIT Line-up presented by Toyota and co-hosted by ABC and Time Inc.'s Entertainment Weekly, Essence and People at Gracias Madre on September 26, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly)
PASADENA, CA - APRIL 20: (L-R) Actors George Newbern and Norm Lewis attend 'One Starry Night...From Broadway To Hollywood' In support of the Golden West Chapter of the ALS Association at Pasadena Playhouse on April 20, 2015 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Actress Katie Lowes (L) and actor George Newbern attend the TGIT Premiere event at Palihouse on September 20, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - APRIL 15: George Newbern attends the Kiehl's 2015 Earth Day Project with Benefitting Recycle Across America at Kiehls Since 1851 Santa Monica Store on April 15, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 29: Actors George Newbern and Bellamy Young attend the Humane Society of The United States 60th Anniversary Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 29, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Humane Society)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 11: Actor George Newbern (L) and Ben Newbern arrive at the world premiere of Disney's 'Muppets Most Wanted' at the El Capitan Theatre on March 11, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 16: George Newbern arrives at the 'Scandal' season two finale event held at Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on May 16, 2013 in North Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 08: (L-R) Actors Megyn Price, Aidan Potter, George Newbern, Francesca Capaldi, Taylor Spreitler and Corbin Bernsen arrive at the screening of '3 Day Test' held at Downtown Independent Theater on December 8, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
SCANDAL - 'Spies Like Us' - Olivia receives an anonymous letter containing a coded warning which could expose Huck's dark past. Meanwhile another Pope & Associates secret has already been exposed and Olivia asks Harrison to step up and handle it. And in the White House, Cyrus and Fitz are dealing with the ramifications of Cyrus' husband's first front page news story, on ABC's 'Scandal,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15 (10:02-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. ((Vivian Zink ABC/ via Getty Images)
GUILLERMO DIAZ, GEORGE NEWBERN
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 14: ( L-R ) Actors Eric Beck, George Newbern and Candace Cameron Bure attend the GMC World Premiere Movie 'The Heart Of Christmas' Sneak Preview Screening At Writer's Guild on November 14, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Maury Phillips/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 12: Actor George Newbern arrives at 'Fireflies In The Garden' premiere at the Pacific Theater at the Grove on October 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 30: 'Code Red' -- Jane (Simon Baker, left), Dr. Griffin Welks (J. C. Mackenzie, second left), Agent Lisbon (Robin Tunney, second right) and Dr. Cliff Edmunds (George Newbern, right) look at possible causes of the death of a research scientist at a government testing facility, on THE MENTALIST, Thursday, March 11 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 30: CUPID - 'Pilot' 9/26/98 Connie Britton, George Newbern (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 30: CUPID - 'Pilot' 9/26/98 George Newbern (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 24: George Newbern attends the Los Angeles World Premiere Screening of 'Next Of Kin' on August 24, 2008 at the Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by John M. Heller/Getty Images)
George Newbern and Susan Eisenberg during Wonderful World of Animation at Comic-Con 2004 at San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California, United States. (Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage for Wonderful World of Animation Art Gallery)
PROVIDENCE -- 'The Eleventh Hour' Episode 11/12 -- Pictured: (l-r) George Newbern as Owen Frank, Melina Kanakaredes as Dr. Sydney Hansen -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
PROVIDENCE -- 'Truth and Consequences' -- Episode 7 -- Pictured: (l-r) George Newbern as Owen Frank and Melina Kanakaredes as Dr. Sydney Hansen -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
PROVIDENCE -- 'The Eleventh Hour' Episode 11/12 -- Pictured: (l-r) Dana Daurey as Heather Tupperman, Mike Farrell as Dr. James Hansen, Seth Peterson as Robbie Hansen, George Newbern as Owen Frank, Melina Kanakaredes as Dr. Sydney Hansen, Paula Cale as Joanie Hansen, Alex D. Linz as Pete Calcatera, Tessa Allen as Hannah Hansen -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
PROVIDENCE -- 'The Eleventh Hour' Episode 11/12 -- Pictured: (l-r) George Newbern as Owen Frank, Melina Kanakaredes as Dr. Sydney Hansen, Mike Farrell as Dr. James Hansen -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
PROVIDENCE -- 'Great Expectations' Episode 19 -- Pictured: (l-r) Melina Kanakaredes as Dr. Sydney Hansen, George Newbern as Owen Frank -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: The cast of the new television series 'Bull' (L-R) Chris Wiehl, George Newbern, Ian Kahn, Alicia Coppola, Elizabeth Rohm, and Malik Yoba arrive at the 2000 American Cinematheque Award during the 15th Annual Moving Picture Ball at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, 23 September 2000. Bruce Willis was honored as an extraordinary artist in the entertainment industry currently making a significant contribution to the art of the moving picture. (FILM) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK M. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 14: George Newbern attends the premiere of 'Friends and Lovers' on April 14, 1999 at Laemmle Sunset 5 Theater in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: Cast members from the Lion's Gate new release 'Friends and Lovers' (from L-R) Claudia Schiffer, Stephen Baldwin, producer Josi Konski, Shane Powers, Suzanne Cryer, George Newbern and Danny Nucci pose for photographers as they arrive at the premiere in Hollywood, Los Angeles, 14 April, 1999. This romantic comedy is directed by George Haas. AFP PHOTO Lucy NICHOLSON/hmb (Photo credit should read LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Juliette Lewis, Shirley MacLaine, George Newbern, and Mackenzie Astin posing for publicity portrait for the film 'The Evening Star', 1996. (Photo by Paramount/Getty Images)
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Check out my full conversation with George Newbern below:
This season has seen a sort of return to form for "Scandal." It's been really great so far!
Yeah, I agree with you! I'm not a writer, but they've done an amazing job of being able to go away and come back so many times, you know what I mean? They seem to retain a good chunk of that enthusiasm, and I think that's a feat after six seasons.
And your character, Charlie's, role has changed quite a bit, too. You've gone from being just a hired assassin that would come in and out to more of a regular character on every episode.
I know! I like the sound of that. [Laughs]
What was that evolution like for you? Was there one moment where that change was decided?
Well, I don't really know. They don't consult me about that, but I think it evolved that way because the character can do a lot of different things in a lot of different storylines. Now that I'm romantically linked to Quinn -- which doesn't mean that he's still not a sociopath, by the way -- I think that further entrenches him in their lives. The other thing is that I think the character allows for a bit of humor and lightness to the shenanigans. I think he serves a dual purpose: He can get things done, but he's also a kind of pickup of lighter breath for the show.
And his relationship with Quinn has given a new level of humanity to the character.
Right, but they still do some terrible things [together]! [Laughs]
In your mind, what has been the most shocking kill that Charlie has had?
"Shocking"? I don't know if any of them have been shocking. I'll be honest with you, I think at the core of this guy's character, he loves it. Maybe Quinn and Huck get a little irritated with him because he doesn't think much about it. I think he's more practical about [killing], so I don't necessarily think that he's "shocked." It's interesting, because when he's in O.P.A. working with Quinn and Olivia, he's doing this for two reasons: Maybe because of his feelings for Quinn, but also because it ingratiates him a little bit into their machine. Ultimately, he wants to work and be necessary. I think he's a lonely guy, so this is a way for him to have some sort of family.
It's also interesting that, when he kills people, we don't exactly see how he tortures them first. As an actor, do you fill those moments in?
Yeah, I actually think that the best scenes are when they don't show all of that stuff. I think the gorier they get, the less effective they are. It's the same with sex scenes. The less you show, the better -- maybe I'm a prude! I think the brain fills in a lot more detail than you explicitly show on television.
Talk to me a bit about the evolution of Charlie's relationship with Quinn. Where do you see things going with them in the future?
It was interesting, because there was an earlier episode where I basically tudor Huck in B613 -- I mentored him, essentially -- and he was sort of like a little brother, but then we became estranged. Then, he had this relationship with Quinn, so now it's kind of like Charlie's dating his little brother's ex-girlfriend, which can get awkward.
That's a bit ... twisted.
Right?! It's a little twisted, but it can be worked out. I think there's an interesting dynamic there that they will hopefully mine.
You've been in this business for a long time. What new things did you learn as an actor on the set of "Scandal"?
I try to learn something new with every job that I do. I think that I've learned with this job -- and it also comes with being able to relaxing a little bit, knowing that I have future episodes coming up -- to trust the writing and the material and to have more fun with it. I think a lot of the time you're acting out of, like, "I've got to make sure I nail this!" You don't always know if it's a one-shot deal or something. I've done so many series that have been 18 or 20 episodes and then it's over -- you don't always get a long run at it -- so this has been a treat as an actor to have a show have legs and a character that stays and develops. That's just so rare, especially on television. People's attention spans are so short now that everything gets cancelled quickly.
And there's been near-constant buzz around "Scandal" during its entire run.
I know, it's amazing! It comes and goes, but it still attracts attention. People can go away and come back and still be into it. It's such a lucky thing to get to be a part of.
Before I let you go, I need to ask about "Father of the Bride." What's a memory that sticks out to you from that time, either during the filming of the original or the sequel?
I really do just have such great memories of that. Mostly, just as an actor being in Los Angeles 20+ years ago, I felt like up to that point I had done a lot of things. But, when we started work and I got to set with Steve Martin, Diane Keaton and Martin Short, and we would go out to lunch that first week during shooting, I just had an out of body experience. I was like, "What the hell just happened to me?" So, as a person and as an actor, my favorite memory from "Father of the Bride" is just going out to lunch with huge movie stars and not understanding what I was doing there. That was my biggest takeaway.
So, it was like, "Is this real life?"
[Laughs] You know what I mean, though? It was super fun, but more than anything I just was a little overwhelmed. It was so fun, and to this day, Kim Williams and I are still great, great friends. She's a good person. That movie is perennial! It's weird, but so many generations of little girls that have gotten married have come up to me and said that they've watched the movie.
That must be pretty special.
Oh, man, it's amazing! If an actor ever gets to have one of those jobs in his life, you can just quit.