On Wednesday afternoon, Twitter was abuzz with the name Eric West. Deadline reported that the relatively unknown actor was going to take over the role of Harrison Wright on ABC’s hit drama Scandal, the character originated by Columbus Short, who left the series after its recent third season amid legal trouble.
Harrison was last seen with a gun to his head in the Scandal Season 3 finale, but, it turned out Deadline fell for a hoax of a recasting report, which creator Shonda Rhimes almost immediately took to Twitter to shoot down.
But how did West feel about his very brief, but very buzzy time in the spotlight? The musician and actor called BuzzFeed shortly after the story was debunked to talk about his bizarre day.
“This is all so random. I’ve been trying to jump into the shower for about two hours now,” West said with a laugh. “It’s really weird because, maybe two or three weeks ago, Us Weekly reached out to me about replacing Columbus. I was like, ‘I’ll check with my agent, but it’s news to me’… I mean, anything is possible in life.”
After West’s agent confirmed there was no truth to the casting rumor, Us Weekly didn’t run the story. “I’m glad they didn’t run it, but I was just shocked to be getting text messages today from friends in L.A. saying, ‘Congratulations!’ And I was like, ‘I don’t get it!’ They started sending me picture messages of Deadline and I was like, ‘Wait what?! That’s not true.’ Then, I went on Twitter and my Twitter feed was going insane. So that’s when I decided to tweet something because I had no idea what was going on.”
“Hearing it again two or three weeks later, it kind of threw me for a loop,” West said of the reemerging story, noting he has “zero clue” who’s behind the rumors that led Us Weekly to reach out to him and that led Deadline to run the faux story on Wednesday.
“I will say I was at the ABC office for an audition,” West said slyly. “But it wasn’t for the part of Harrison.”
West seemed slightly embarrassed to admit that not only was he not joining Scandal, but he actually doesn’t watch the show. “I’ve only seen one episode because I’m so busy doing my own thing,” which includes a top-secret project that will soon send him out of the country for six months. “It’s honestly one of those shows that, every time it’s award season and everyone’s talking about it, I’m like, I have to watch Scandal. I have to watch Scandal. But I just don’t have time.”
Presumably, there would be no hard feelings from Rhimes, who tweeted Wednesday shortly after the report took over Twitter that she had never even heard of West. “I saw her tweet and I was like, That’s kinda cool actually,” West said.
“It’s kind of cool everyone’s talking about me for a second and it’s funny, but ultimately, at the end of the day, I sort of feel bad for [Short],” West continued. “The kid’s going through enough as it is. We don’t need to add this too.”
Short, who announced he wasn’t returning to Scandal in late April, has had a tumultuous few weeks (he was accused of threatening his wife, Tanee Short, allegedly saying he would kill her and himself) and multiple sources told BuzzFeed that his option to return was not picked up by ABC.
“It’s sad because he’s going through so much and someone’s just trying to make him feel inadequate in a way,” added West, who said he doesn’t know Short personally. “I think it’s cool, for sure, that everyone’s talking about me for a second, but I’m sure for him, being sort of kicked off the show, that sucks to think that he was replaced. So I feel bad for him.”
West has actually been working in entertainment since he was young as a musician, and growing up, he had a close relationship with Fergie and her bandmates in Wild Orchid, Fergie’s pre-Black Eyed Peas girl group. “A lot of the person I am today is because of the way they treated me growing up and sort of giving me advice about the person you should be in this business,” West said. “I love Fergie and those girls. I’m really thankful for them.”
Though West has “written for other artists throughout the years,” he eventually left that industry. “The music business is extremely hard. You may work for two or three years and not have a record come out, so at one point in my life I just decided to focus on other things,” West explained. “And then I fell in love with acting. Acting just feels good.” Even if it’s not on Scandal.
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