The Good Wife's Josh Charles Talks Will's Time Off ('It Will Test Him') and The End of the Affair

Six months is a long stretch, even in accelerated TV time. And yet that is for how long The Good Wife‘s Will Gardner must go without practicing law, as ruled by the Bar Association upon learning that,  years ago, he “borrowed” money from a client. How will the hard-working litigator bide his time while hardly working? (Might he find a loophole to his suspension?) What will visiting kin have to say about the sad sitch? And might Will use the respite to reflect on not just his professional woes but romantic ones as well?

TVLine invited Josh Charles to preview what’s ahead on the CBS drama, starting this Sunday at 9/8c.

TVLINE | Who’d have thought that a passing remark made by Blake-the-P.I. not even a year ago would blow up so grand?
[Laughs] Well, I knew they had an idea that this was going to go somewhere, and I think the writers, and [series creators] Robert and Michelle [King], do a really good job of planting seeds for these arcs. It’s certainly been a slow build, but I liked how it was resolved. I like the fact that you thought Will was in the clear, and then suddenly, just as quickly as he was celebrating [dodging the grand jury inquest], he got punched out of nowhere. I thought it was refreshing to read a character who sort of lived morally and ethically on the line for quite some time, and in getting to where he’s gotten sort of cut corners and pushed things to the brink. It’s nice to see someone who makes those choices have to pay the price.

TVLINE | Is this forced sabbatical a time of reflection for Will? Does he do any soul-searching?
I wouldn’t use the word soul-searching. It’s certainly going to test him, emotionally and as a lawyer. There are many people that seem to feel that he can’t do this, that he can’t be away from the law because it’s too much of who he is.

TVLINE | Yes, Diane said as much.
Exactly. “It will kill you,” she says. And there’s that element of, Can a guy who lives and breathes his work so much so that he’s kind of put off his personal life for many years, can he actually survive when he’s not able to do what he’s accustomed to doing every day? So you’re going to see some frustration with that. But Will, even as he’s not practicing [law] per se, finds ways to see what he can work on, to do things from the sidelines. If you want to call that soul-searching, I guess you could, but it’s certainly a time for reflection. He has to find creative ways to stay busy, and as we meet some of his family in this week’s episode, it lets you learn new things about him.

TVLINE | Do his two sisters (played by Nurse Jackie‘s Merritt Wever and The Big C‘s Nadia Dajani ) come to him, or does he summon them?
They come to him. [Laughs] I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say they are definitely not summoned. And while he loves both of them, both relationships have their own sets of challenges.

TVLINE | Do they share a point of view in what he should do with his life now as well as moving forward?
It’s certainly a thing a lot of people can relate to, of your family not quite being fully aware of what you’ve accomplished, even when you’ve accomplished quite a bit. Certainly he has a bond with both of his sisters, but ultimately there is this feeling of, “I’m pretty successful at what I do.”

TVLINE | Professionally, for sure. But does the topic of his love life come up?
Sure, sure. They’re sisters, so they’re prying! They want to take care of him.

TVLINE | And how does Will think he’s doing on that front?
I think Will… Will seems somewhat content. There’s a line in the episode about how he’s “enjoying the quiet right now” in his life a bit. He’s not interested in having his sisters set him up, certainly.

TVLINE | Speaking of relationships, what concerns if any did you have about that storyline of Will and Alicia’s affair? And what did you think of how it actually played out?
The concerns you have are like with anything you’re invested in. It felt like something that we needed to do, because if you’re being real about how they portrayed the characters, and you take the dynamic out that she’s not actively married anymore, it doesn’t seem realistic that the level of intimacy wouldn’t increase. But at the same time you get into a situation where you ask, Do you do this? Or do you do this? I don’t think either [option] is necessarily right or wrong, but it felt appropriate [to pursue the romance]. One thing I’m not interested in playing — nor were they interested in writing — was this whole back-and-forth, and back-and-forth, playing awkward moments… You can only do that for so long. The reality is they’re two people who care about each other, and there’s a bond and intensity there, but at the same time, just because their level of intimacy increased, it doesn’t make any of the complications or reasons why they shouldn’t be together go away.

TVLINE | As a viewer, I was pleased to see it peter out when it did, rather than be some shiny-happy, “Wow, this was easier than we thought!” kind of thing.
Yeah, and that doesn’t feel like the realm of this show. People project on whatever they want, so I’m not going to tell anybody what to think – they can say, “These two belong together” or not. The reality is there’s a connection between the two, and it’s a very complicated matter of past and present coming together. There are a lot of emotions mixed in there, and for Will that brings a lot of baggage. So how do I feel about it? I feel that how they handled it was great.

TVLINE | The Kings have said that Will’s suspension time will fly by, that he’s back at work by the season finale. Will he return with a fire in his belly or be a bit Zen about it all?
This time off and what he’s gone through will affect him, and he will bring that new energy into how he practices the law. We’ll see that going into next season, as well. It’s not going to be a complete 180-degree turn] or anything. [Chuckles] The word “Zen” and Will don’t go hand-in-hand.