A seasoned director, producer, and actor, Goldwyn has had anything but a typical Hollywood career; as the 54-year-old settles into the director's chair once again for the debut of WE tv's ''The Divide'' (July 16, 9 p.m.), we chat with him about his wide-ranging résumé

St. Elsewhere, 1987
Producers Bruce Paltrow and Tom Fontana — whom Goldwyn met while doing theater on the East Coast — helped the feather-haired actor land one of his first TV roles. ”I was so frigid — I was like a board of wood,” laughs Goldwyn, who played an expectant father. But as he notes, ”I got to work with Denzel Washington and Alfre Woodard, which was incredible.”

Ghost, 1990
Goldwyn credits his first major film role — as villain Carl Bruner — with helping him find his footing. ”I’d been an actor for five or six years, but I felt like I wasn’t getting any traction,” he says. ”At that moment I was thinking, ‘I can’t do it anymore.”’ Ghost set designer Jane Musky, who happens to be Goldwyn’s wife, urged him to pursue the part. ”The assistant in my agent’s office said, ‘Dammit, I’m going to get you in on that.’ He got me an audition.”

Tarzan, 1999
Goldwyn voiced the title role in Disney’s animated feature. It’s a part he was motivated to take thanks to The Boys Next Door costar Nathan Lane’s turn as Timon in The Lion King. ”He did the character for my 5-year-old, who just died,” recalls Goldwyn. ”I thought, ‘I have to do one of these.”’

A Walk on The Moon, 1999
Starring Diane Lane and Viggo Mortensen as unlikely lovers who meet during the summer of ’69, Goldwyn’s feature-film directorial debut — which he also produced — fueled his interest in behind-the-camera work. ”I started looking for projects to produce, and then fell in love with this script,” Goldwyn says. ”[I] was afraid to give it away to someone because I thought they’d screw it up, so I did it. I never intended to become a director.”

Scandal, 2012-Present
Playing decorated (and deplorable) President Fitzgerald Grant opposite Kerry Washington, Bellamy Young, and Jeff Perry ”challenges and excites” Goldwyn. ”Getting to go to work every day with these incredible actors, it’s just like an adrenaline rush,” he says. ”Then you add to that [Shonda Rhimes’] writing, which is always so surprising. We never know what’s going to happen.” Goldwyn’s pulled double duty on the series as a director, but just don’t ask him to choose one passion over the other. ”I would be really unhappy if I couldn’t be an actor. [But being] a director, I could never give that up.”

The Divide, 2014
The series — co-created and exec-produced by Goldwyn — follows a legal caseworker (Marin Ireland) and a district attorney (Damon Gupton), whose paths negotiating the criminal justice system were partially inspired by the 2010 film Conviction (which Goldwyn directed). ”The more I got involved with the Innocence Project through that film, the more I realized how common these stories are and how every one is so dramatic,” he says. ”We’re really more interested in the people than the typical crime drama.”