Josh Charles is acutely aware of fans’ investment in The Good Wife. Two weekends ago, he was in Chicago for a Steppenwolf Theatre gala where he helped auction off a Good Wife set visit and made a side trip with friends to a Cubs game. “The woman who was serving us the hot dogs recognized me and was really excited and went to shake my hand and didn’t realize she had a toothpick in her hand that was very sharp and damn near drew blood. I was trying to keep it together while I was in real pain, while my buddy was complety laughing at me and this woman just rolled right through and kept talking about how much she loves the show. That’s the fascinating thing about TV. People’s reactions are intense,” he says, laughing. “It’s a sort of fine line I walk because I enjoy my privacy, but when you realize that people enjoy a show and that when they see somebody that’s in that show you can give them some happiness for a m oment, it’s a really cool thing. And most people are really, really sweet, and it’s great. But there are funny moments where you get stabbed with a toothpick or grabbed and then you have to laugh it off.”
He should prepare for more enthusiastic fan encounters after tonight’s season 2 finale. The promo alone – which shows Charles’ Will finally having good timing with Julianna Margulies’ just-separated Alicia in an elevator – sent some viewers into a giddy frenzy.
(“It’s a dream sequence. It’s a dream sequence,” he tried to tell us. Until we shouted, “No, it’s not!” at him, very professionally, and he admitted he was just toying with us.) “There’s no dream sequence going on here,” he confirms. “These turn of events and everything that’s happening really do push Will and Alicia closer together as friends. Truly, I think he cares for her a great deal. Of all the moral ambiguity of that character, it’s probably one of the most honest emotions he has.”
Will is still technically with Tammy (guest star Elizabeth Reaser), who Charles knows some fans haven’t warmed up to for whatever reason. “I can’t really analyze why people like things or don’t like things, because I don’t really know. Maybe a lot of those people who are invested in Will and Alicia, maybe they’re not ever gonna like anybody. They’re looking at a relationship like someone’s mother. No one’s ever gonna be good enough,” he says, laughing again. “I liked the humor aspect that Will and Tammy have, that they have a different dynamic than Alicia and Will have. It’s not as quiet of a dynamic. There’s more of an ease and a kind of calmness that seems to work when Will and Alicia are together. Even if there’s stuff going on, they just feel like they get each other’s rhythms well.”
Co-creator Robert King directed the episode, his first of the series. “We were all runnin’ on fumes at the end of the season, and it really gave us a great burst of energy to have somebody like him there at the helm. I hope he directs more,” Charles says. “He’s a real visual thinker, gives really astute and subtle direction, and has this database all of the characters and their backstories in his brain – it’s just working a mile a minute, and he’s able to articulate what the intention is of each scene very clearly because it’s coming from him and [co-creator/wife] Michelle and their writing staff. That was really fun to have, especially when you get into really intense moments or moments that are filled with so much subtextual undercurrent. He knows tonally what he’s trying to hit.”
It was a fun episode for Charles in general: He got to work with Jane Alexander, who guests as a judge, and with Titus Welliver, who returns as Glenn Childs to prosecute his swan song case – a client of Will’s accused of murdering a judge. “He’s been a friend for many years, and we really haven’t had a lot to do together on the show,” Charles says. “We’ve always sorta been joking about it, like ‘When are they gonna put us together?’ One time last season, we were supposed to be together, but there was a scheduling conflict or something. So that was really special for me.”
There are a lot of twists, turns, and surprises in the hour, Charles promises. “I think these last four episodes each could have been a season-ending episode. Each one, you’re like, ‘Jesus, this is riveting. How are they gonna top this?’ I felt like they kept doing it. Hopefully you’ll agree with me. Maybe not everybody will, but that’s okay. I don’t think the aim should be that everybody should be pleased all the time. To me, that usually means you’re not doing something right,” he says. Those recent events have also pushed Will and Kalinda closer together, too, he notes. “He has these feeling for Alicia that are very deep and profound and she’s an employee that he considers really good at her job, and the same thing for Kalinda – he wants her to remain at the firm. While he doesn’t maybe know all of the dynamics yet [of their dissolved friendship], he has a sense of some of it, and I think that puts him in the middle of that in a way that should be exciting to play,” Charles says. “All the different storylines will reveal themselves in a way where people can spend the off-season imagining the different directions we can go next season. And that’s not just Will and Alicia. It’s also Kalinda and Alicia, Cary and Peter, Cary and Lockhart Gardner, Cary and Kalinda, Peter and Will, Eli and Alicia – all the variations are in play. It puts us in a place where we can build on stuff in a new way and not feel like we are repeating ourselves at all. I think fans will be excited. If you like the show, I think you respect that the show, especially for a network show, takes some risks and believes in its characters enough that they can withstand these risks.”
Ken Tucker’s ‘Good Wife’ recaps