Eye on Emmy: The Good Wife's Josh Charles Hails Breakup Ep, Singles Out Show's Unsung Heroes

It would be tough for Josh Charles to top last year — when he earned the first Emmy nomination of his career for his work as Will Gardner on CBS’ The Good Wife. However, given the weight of his Season 3 story arc — not only did his attorney character enter into (and almost as quickly exit) a romantic relationship with Julianna Margulies’ Alicia, but he was suspended from practicing law and was forced to revisit his past as a gambling addict — the Sports Night alum looks poised to do just that. This time, however, he’s not just likely to get a supporting actor nomination, he could very well walk home with the prize.

TVLINE | Was there any aspect of your storyline that you found particularly satisfying to play?
It was really fascinating to see [Will] have to face the consequences, professionally and personally, for the actions that he’s taken or not taken in his life. At the core, this guy’s a gambler — literally and figuratively. He has an addictive personality, and that backstory felt very authentic to what we’ve seen already from Will. He likes to take risks, loves to live on the edge, and loves to cut corners — morally and unethically. He consistently walks a tightrope, and is happy to do so, because he likes the adrenaline of that.

TVLINE | Your dynamic and chemistry with Julianna seems so effortless. Was that just luck?
I’ve known Julianna for some time. In fact, she called me about the job at the same time that they offered it to me. She said, “Hey I’m doing this show, and there’s a cool role, and I think you’d be great for it.” I came in with a history with her. She’s just the greatest. We work our asses off on the show, as anyone who does a network show can testify to. There are long hours. It’s a long season, you make 22, 23 episodes … I’m not complaining. I feel very blessed to have the gig, and I love doing it. But it’s a marathon, not a sprint, [so] it’s really important that you [like] the people you work with. We’re constantly playing “Words with Friends” and laughing … always trying to keep it light. Everybody takes what they do very seriously, but Jules doesn’t take herself so seriously. And she is such a good person, by nature such a caretaker. It’s in her genetic make-up. It’s why she’s such a good mom. She just wants to make sure everybody around her is taken care of. We’re really lucky to have someone like that leading the ship.

TVLINE | Between the guest actors and the regulars, the cast is the envy of the industry. Do you ever look around you some days and go, “Wow.”
Every day. Seriously. Every. F—ing. Day. It’s amazing. We’re in New York so the talent pool is just incredible. It makes it really fun to come to work when you know you’ve got some great actors to hit the ball with.

TVLINE | Have you thought about which episode you’ll submit should you be nominated?
There was an episode this season called “Parenting Made Easy.” That was the one where Alicia breaks things off with Will. I was just really proud of the entire episode. I love the writing and I loved how Rosemary Rodriguez directed it. I was really proud of my work in that, and I don’t often say that. I am very hypercritical of myself. I thought the whole episode had a quiet intensity to it and a breadth to it that I really responded to.

TVLINE | You had such a meaty season, storyline-wise. Did you ever consider submitting yourself in the lead actor race?
I didn’t. It never even crossed my mind, actually. The show is built around Alicia. She’s the only true lead of the show, and everyone supports [her]. And I’m totally comfortable with that.

TVLINE | What’s your take on industry awards?
I have mixed feelings about it. I was incredibly flattered last year to be included in that mix of actors. You can sit there and make fun of those things all you want, but at the end of the day when your name’s called — maybe it makes me a hypocrite — but it did make me feel very humble and proud. It just felt nice to be included in that group. [But] it’s a roulette. If my work gets recognized this year that would be great. And if it doesn’t, my life will be fine, you know? At the end of the day, it would be very flattering, and I would be very happy about it, but it’s not why I do what I do, you know? I truly mean it. It’s not what drives me.

TVLINE | The one aspect of The Good Wife that gets overlooked come awards-time is the directing. Do you see the directors as the show’s unsung heroes?
I’m really glad that you asked that because I feel like that too. Directing television could be a really thankless job, because you come in as sort of the guest. The actors are pretty entrenched in their characters, and the writers create the show and it’s basically their child. But [a good director] can make a huge difference. I wish they were recognized.

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  1. Ashton says:

    love him!

  2. Matt says:

    I thought his work on In Treatment was just so masterful and he continues to be wonderful on this show. I’m glad he’s being recognized for his skill.

  3. SL says:

    Parenting Made Easy is a terrific episode of television. Love The Good Wife!

  4. Molly says:

    I love Alicia, but I still can’t get over the annoying contrived “oh Grace got fake-kidnapped so obviously I’m a horrible mom and need to break up with Will” plotline in Parenting Made Easy. But that didn’t affect how good the acting was in it, and I definitely think he deserves to get nominated again this year. Will is probably my favorite character at this point, and Josh Charles is a fantastic actor.

  5. thatgirlp says:

    Love Josh Charles and the chemistry that he has with Julianna as they are my favorite TV couple….Will and Alicia are the bomb!

  6. Saint Alicia says:

    “Parenting Made Easy” was definitely the ep to submit; hope Josh earns another nomination for it. Also, agree with “Molly,” for a show with such sharp writing, the reasoning behind Alicia and Will’s split was the weakest thing they’ve produced. I can only hope Will and Alicia give their relationship another go, and this time the writers will explore it fully.

  7. nikki says:

    If he gets nominated over John Noble again……

    • smidnite says:

      I’d be thrilled! I love Josh!

      • KevyB says:

        He’s great, don’t get me wrong, but nobody better be polishing a trophy for him. With Peter Dinklage from Game of Thrones and Giancarlo Esposito AND Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad all in the running, he’s got no chance.

  8. Phil Hersh says:

    Call me in the minority here, I think his performance is too life and death over the top (as are many of the other characters/actors) on this show and I’m not impressed at all. Its like Will and other characters are permanently on overdrive which real human beings aren’t 24 hours a day.

  9. carla says:

    Have always loved Josh Charles…especially since Sports Night. I wish I could say that he’s my favorite on The Good Wife, but the entire cast is so flippin talented. He deserves an emmy!

  10. Andy says:

    yes Emmy! love him so much

  11. lara says:

    A great interview. I love Dan Rydell….I mean, Josh Charles.

  12. I love Josh Charles. He’s such a cool guy. “Parenting Made Easy” wasn’t one of my favorite episodes but I loved “Another Ham Sandwich”. Either that one or the one where Will loses his ability to practice law would be my choice for Emmy for him. Either way, he’s fantastic on every episode. Hard to choose!

  13. Polly says:

    i like him but i think that Alan Cumming deserves the prize for supporting actor. he’s too awesome!

  14. sam says:

    i have to agree — he should submit “another ham sandwich” and I think he has a good shot at winning — there are a lot of twists in that episode and really makes you root for him — Michael can you get the message to him??? A lot of people on gold derby thought he was gonna win last year with the episode he submitted. I would really love it if Josh charles won, he’s a great actor!

  15. Ethan says:

    I didn’t really like Parenting Made Easy. I thought the writing was kind of weak and the ending with Grace being found so easily brought the episode down. I don’t think JC should submit this and JM definitely should not as well.

  16. Ami says:

    <3 Josh Charles and love Will in TGW.

  17. Ella says:

    I wish they’d get Robert Sean Leonard to guest star on The Good Wife. Dead Poet’s Society reunion! :)

    • Haley says:

      I almost melted with happiness when they got James Waterston last season, if RSL or (dare we hope) Ethan Hawke can show up all my dreams would come true! :D

  18. martina says:

    Could someone enlighten me and tell me how awards work? The Academy nominates actors for their overall piece of work and then they have to send a particular episode for it to be compared to other nominees and finally the Academy gets to vote?

    Hope I’m not getting it wrong..