Exclusive: Lisa Edelstein Opens Up About Her 'Disappointing' House Exit and Good New Gig

A funny thing happened to Lisa Edelstein soon after the news broke that she wouldn’t be returning to House this fall: She started getting phone calls. A lot of phone calls, from people who wanted to work with her. “It was a really nice feeling,” she tells TVLine in her first interview since tendering her resignation from the Fox hit back in May. “It was a new position for me, and it was very exciting.” One of the first overtures to come her way was made by the producers of The Good Wife, who offered her a three-episode arc as Celeste Serrano, a lawyer with ties to Josh Charles’ Will. As she began work on the CBS drama this morning, the actress called from the set to discuss her new gig and reflect on all things House — including her sudden exit, the shocking season finale and whether she’d ever return as Cuddy.

TVLINE | Three months later, how are you feeling about your House departure.
It was very sad and very disappointing and a really difficult decision to make. But ultimately I felt like it was the best thing for me to do for myself and for my business. I’m really looking forward to some of the great things I have on my plate right now. That’s pretty much what I’m focusing on. It’s interesting to throw yourself back out there into the world after you’ve had such an amazing job after seven years. You get cushy about it, and you lay back and you let yourself be taken care of for a while. And having to get your hustle back on is both terrifying and really exciting.

TVLINE | Given how the season ended, I’m guessing you didn’t walk away with a sense of closure storyline-wise.
No. Definitely not. It wasn’t an expected turn of events — for anybody. But that’s what happens sometimes.

TVLINE | What was your reaction to that finale?
[Laughs] People were really up in arms! They thought House was trying to kill Cuddy. I totally understand their argument. How could you drive a car into a house where you know that your friends are, where you know there’s a child, and not think that? It really is homicidal. Although in the script it didn’t read that way because it was very clear that [Cuddy and her friends and family] had left that room. It’s still a very extreme thing to do. It definitely pushes the envelope quite a bit.

TVLINE | Did you think it was out of character for House?
The problem is in order to affect any kind of change for a character like that you have to go to extreme places, [but] maybe it was too extreme for the audience. It’s just not that kind of show. Was it out of line in terms of the creative path? No. It makes sense on just a purely creative level. But in terms of it being on a network television show, I think it went too far for a lot of people.

TVLINE | The show picks up this fall with House in jail. Do you think that’s a fair punishment?
[Laughs] I guess so. I don’t know.

TVLINE | If this turns out to be the show’s final season, would you be open to returning as a guest star?
I haven’t talked to anyone over there so it would seem unlikely. Who knows what I’ll be doing. I have a lot on my plate. I wouldn’t want to answer that and get anyone’s hopes up. It doesn’t seem like that’s the direction anyone is going in.

TVLINE | It sounded like that was the direction David Shore was going in when I spoke to him recently.
Well, I can’t have a conversation with David Shore via Michael Ausiello. [Laughs] It might be a bolder move for someone to pick up a phone.

TVLINE | What can you tell me about your Good Wife character? It’s already out there that she has ties to Will.
She has a history with Will. She’s a lawyer with pliable ethics. [Laughs]. She really enjoys the gamble and the game of law. She’s also a professional gambler. She’s been playing for a long time and she has a history with Will in that world as well. So everything that she does is all about the risk, and it’s really fun — especially [in contrast] to Alicia [Julianna Margulies] who has to be so held together. This woman doesn’t have any of those rules in her life.

TVLINE | Rumor has it Celeste and Will were former partners.
I don’t know anything about us being business partners. I know that we gambled together. I know that we have a romantic history.

TVLINE | Is it possible your three-episode arc could be extended?
Who knows? I like [the length of the stint] because I’m here for a solid month and then I’m available to go back to work in Los Angeles. But I love working, so if they want to continue with this character we’ll see what happens down the road.

TVLINE | What’s next? I hear you’re developing a few things. Can you say anything about that?
Not yet. There’s a project I’m doing on my own that [has required] so much research that I feel like I’m getting ready for a dissertation. And I’m also working with a producer on a possible new series. So it’s all very up in the air at the moment, but my creative juices are flowing. I really want to get more into the producing side so I can participate a little bit more.

TVLINE | Would the ideal scenario be producing a series that you’re also the lead of?
I don’t care if I’m the star. I really like to be part of an ensemble. Hugh [Laurie]’s life is extremely limited by those 14-hour days, and to add producing on top of that is a big task. I more just want to use my brain as much as I possibly can.