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Scott Foley drafts family for directorial debut

Known for high-profile roles on such TV shows as “Scandal,” “True Blood” and “Felicity,” Scott Foley — who has directed television episodes — now steps behind the camera to direct his first feature film, “Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife,” which he also wrote.

The movie, which has just been released as a VOD, is about how everyone in Ward’s world wants his much-despised wife dead — most of all Ward (played by Donald Faison). The dark comedy moves along as Ward’s pals’ murderous fantasies take a very real, if accidental, turn toward reality — and disposing of the body becomes a tricky issue.

When the actor-filmmaker called from his California home the other day, I did have to kid him about making this project a family affair. Along with casting his wife, Marika Dominczyk, and her sister, Dagmara Dominczyk, Foley’s producers on the movie are James Carpinello and Foley’s brother-in-law Patrick Wilson, who also both have roles in the film. In addition, Carpinello’s wife, Amy Acker, plays Foley’s wife in the movie.

“It is, for better or for worse, a family affair,” agreed Foley. “You never know where you’re going to go with a project like this. Going into it, I always knew I wanted to cast the best people for the roles, and it turned out that most of them are people I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by. I have some very talented friends and family members!”

More than mere family pride led to the casting choices he made.

“When you’re doing a film of this size, with such a small budget, it kind of was a necessity,” he said. “I know a lot of very successful people in this industry who wouldn’t be game to do a low-budget film, because there are no perks. There are no trailers. There’s no craft service. To work on something like this, those people would find themselves sitting on a cooler of bottled water in a kitchen in the [San Fernando] Valley. It’s a tough sell to a lot of people.”

However, while he’s happy with his movie, he did add with a sarcastic tone, “I don’t know if I’d recommend directing your wife in a film.”

“It was a little tricky,” said Foley. “There is the relationship you have, because we have kids and a life together. But when you bring it to the set, things change. She has opinions, and all of sudden, even when you’re supposed to be the boss, of course you’re not the boss any time you’re around your wife. So that makes it tough.”

The actor and director admitted he should not have been surprised by his wife openly expressing her opinions on the set of “Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife,” considering they had previously worked together.

“My wife did an episode of ‘The Unit’ with me a few years back. I remember going in to shoot one of our only scenes together — and it was our first scene. The director said, ‘OK, Scott, I want you to start at the door and walk over here,’ and I said to him, ‘I don’t know if I’d start at the door.’ But then, my wife said, ‘Hey! Just start at the door!’ … She bosses me no matter where I go — even on the set of my own TV show!” added Foley, laughing loudly.

Foley said that the game of golf planted the seed for “Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife.” Over the years, he discovered he was losing touch with a lot of his male friends, and that a golf course is “really one of the few places where a lot of men can be themselves and share thoughts they can’t or won’t share anywhere else.”

Since the golf course plays a key role in the film, Foley knew it would all fit together for the purpose of his storytelling — even with the film’s dark comedic twists and turns.

Because of the huge popularity of “Scandal,” on which he plays Jake Ballard, I asked Foley if he found it ironic that at a time when politicians are rated so poorly by the general public, politically themed shows like “Scandal,” “House of Cards” and “Veep” do so well.

“We hate it in real life, but in our fantasy life it’s what we all want,” he said. “Plus, these shows are not so much about politics per se, but are full of sex, intrigue and good storytelling — that’s why they’re successful.”