It's decision time on "The Good Wife": Will Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) stand by her husband Peter (Chris Noth) or give into her temptations and rekindle her affair with Will (Josh Charles)?
"I thought it was so cut and dry when I started this show, that she should not be with Peter at all after his behavior," Margulies told The Huffington Post in a phone interview earlier in the week. "But then came this moral dilemma: Can one forgive? Can one move on? Is there such a thing as redeeming oneself? It's not a black-and-white case."
"The Good Wife" concludes Season 4 on Sunday, April 28 and the series will finally -- maybe? -- put the Alicia-Peter-Will love triangle to bed. The episode, titled "What's in the Box?," takes place over the span of 24-hours and features the results of the Illinois gubernatorial race that's gone on all season and Cary (Matt Czuchry) getting the helping hand he needs to start his own firm.
Margulies said fans should buckle up and prepare for surprises. "[The finale] is quite fast-paced and it really, I think, almost bookends the pilot in a beautiful way," she said.
Read on for more from Margulies on "The Good Wife" Season 4 finale, what's ahead for Season 5, how she wraps her head around such a stoic character and much more.
What do you want for Alicia?
I'm very torn ... There are so many reasons why not to be with [Peter] and so many reasons to be with him. This past season, the way they've written him and the way Chris has played him is in a much different light than when we first meet him. What I love about it is the quality of human heart and the capacity to grow and change. It's the luxury of doing television. If it was a movie, she wouldn't end up with him.
Right, she would've gone off into the sunset with Will.
Exactly. But because it's a TV show and we're lucky enough to get a fifth season out of this, there are so many places to go with it. I think I personally would have to say -- me, Julianna [Laughs.] -- she needs to give up on both of them because I think history is a tricky, tricky thing. It's going to keep rearing its ugly head in the relationship with Peter unless she can be completely devoid of feelings from the past and anxieties that he would cheat on her again. I don't know how you maintain a relationship like that and not have those fears.
It seems like it'd be good for like three months or something and then ...
Yeah! I mean, there's the idea of this: Let's renew our vows, let's have a honeymoon, let's start over. And I've never experienced that in my real life -- to be able to break up with someone, be able to get back together them and start over. I don't know if that works so I wouldn't know, but there's also two other factors in this. One is the children, although it's been pretty clear for her from her daughter that the last thing she wants is her mother to be with someone and not live her life fully. I think Grace [Makenzie Vega] has definitely shown that side to Alicia, like, "Don't do this for us. I want you to be a positive role model for me." There's also the other side, which is he's running for governor. The two of them together are great politically. It helps her career and she does love him. She loves him. It's tricky. I think that it's definitely worth giving a try and I think that's where she's veering toward, but I don't know if that's where her heart is.
CBS released a promo for the finale that I hope didn't give away the ending. It shows Alicia and Will getting hot and heavy in a car and then Diane [Christine Baranski] knocking on the car. Is that scene any indication as to what Alicia decides?
Literally we were all reading the last script and everyone had the same response: "Oh my God. They are so effing smart!" [Laughs.] Let's all agree that dragging out a triangle/love affair is just boring. People are going to get sick of it and there's going to be backlash for everyone, including the characters. The way ["The Good Wife" co-creators Robert and Michelle King] handled this, all I can say is, it's brilliant. Throughout the entire finale, people are not going to realize what happens. It's going to hit them pretty hard over the head at the very end. [Laughs.] It did me! The whole time I was reading it, I was like, "I can't believe this. Oh my God. This is so TV." And then all of sudden I was like, "They're f***ing brilliant." [Laughs.]
For Season 5, are you looking forward to moving past this love triangle that's been around this whole series?
What I love about the Will and Alicia relationship is that it has not been fully explored in that, except for sexually, you have not really seen what really draws them to each other, except that it was this past that they had together that they never indulged on. When they did, it was a torrid affair that shouldn't have happened because it was all too complicated. I'd love to see what it is about that relationship. You can't just leave the stone unturned. It has to be unturned at some point. We always have our year-end meeting with the idea of how we're going to get into the next season. The next 15 episodes of the next season are mapped out quite well. I can't go into it because I think Season 5 may be more exciting than any of the seasons we've seen.
It's clever, what they're doing. Just when you think it's a network procedural, it throws you for a loop. I wouldn't be as excited to play this role if the writing wasn't this exciting because it constantly surprises you. It surprises you in a way that isn't soap opera-y. There's real, human, moral issues going on that you can bring into your own life. I mean, I've had people on the street come up to me and be like, "Listen, don't go back with him. It rears its ugly head over and over ..." [Laughs.] It's incredible how people are so invested. I personally would love to see her with a whole new relationship because I don't know how she's going to untangle herself from the haunting of the past. I think it would be great for her to get away from all of it. Whether that's possible to do or not, especially now that Peter is running for governor and back in the political limelight. She's also not stupid -- she doesn't want to ruin her own career. She's come quite far.
She's come a long way from the beginning of Season 1 when she was late to a meeting to now being partner at Lockhart/Gardner. It's been quite a character arc for Alicia. Do you have a favorite element of Alicia's growth?
I think one of the things I love about her growth is that she's realized being the good girl that she is inherently doesn't always pay off. Ultimately, in the end, she has to play both sides of the fence, which is what being a lawyer is. Even if you're representing someone you know is guilty, your job is to get them off ... There are things in life you have to do because that's the way the dice roll. It doesn't mean you have to love it ... The main thing for her, which I love, is that she is a woman who now can support herself, support her family and never needs to depend on a man again. When we met her, she lived in a little bubble. Even though she had the technique and the schooling behind her and the education and the brains to do what she is doing now, she had chosen to live this sort of life in a bubble, allowing someone else to call the shots. I love that she now -- professionally -- is in charge. She made a pretty brave decision ... When they offered her partnership, she took it.
I love the story that has Cary starting his own firm and how Alicia seems tempted to possibly jump ship.
But then what happens to Lockhart/Gardner? ... You know, this sort of idea is kind of what happened in the election this past year. It's like, "Listen, guys: Old, white, Republican men calling the shots and not moving on with the times don't win." The youth vote is coming in because we all are waking up to, "Hey, the world changes." [Laughs.] And we all have to change with it. And gay marriage should be accepted, equal pay for equal work and all this stuff and in a certain way, Lockhart is running on old markers.
With Alicia at the top of the food chain now, she sees that it's very gray. You can be as idealistic as you want, but we saw Chum Hum buy that company in the last episode. At the end of the day, that stuff has to happen.
Right. And that's a great character, John Hickey's character, the owner of Chum Hum. He keeps coming in to these episodes where we're fighting him and he's rolling his eyes going, "Guys ..." Then, we think we win and again, he pulls the rug out from under our feet. In the end, and it's a horrible thing to realize, but money buys things. [Laughs.] It is a sad reality and it's a harsh world. I think Alicia isn't seeing the world through rose-colored glasses anymore like she used to and the way Cary is sort of taking it on. He's becoming this pioneer of the new generation, getting everybody to go with him. Of course he wants Alicia. Alicia is valuable. Alicia is sort of the bridge from the old world to the new world for Cary. She holds a lot of political cards too because of this marriage.
I think it's going to be a really tricky season in how they handle what happens with Peter and Alicia. You've seen them get together sexually, but she's using him. When you see her having sex in the campaign bus and then walking out and he's like, "Do you want a water?" -- all he can offer her is water! There's nothing he can offer her -- she's using him! There's one great line that was, "Do you want to have dinner?" and she's like, "Why?" Then she realizes she sounds harsh, and says, "With who? It's for the campaign?" and he was like, "No, actually -- just me and you." [Laughs.] She's changed so much. The beauty is, you get to peel these layers down because ultimately, doesn't she want romance? Doesn't she want love? Doesn't she want to feel in love? That's why I think she keeps going back to this idea of Will, which was the excitement and the love she never got to explore.
I know you've had a hand in getting some very famous guest stars on the show. Has anybody been pitching you for Season 5?
Oh my god, yes! We've had a few. I always email Robert and Michelle and I say, "OK, Alec Baldwin wants in. OK, Cynthia Nixon wants a great part." It's so exciting for me when people ask me. I went backstage to see Nathan Lane at the opening of his play "The Nance" and he was like, "I want to come back!" I was like, "You do?" So I emailed going, "Don't shut that door! Nathan Lane wants to come back." [Laughs.] It's so gratifying to know that these incredibly talented people want to be part of the show. That's a testament to the writing, I think.
With Amanda Peet's character Laura Hellinger and Maura Tierney's character Maddie Hayward this season, we saw Alicia forming new friendships outside of the Kalinda relationship that was so central to the show. Alicia's relationship with Kalinda has been rocky and it's kind of taken a backseat. Do you think in Season 5 we'll see them come together again?
My guess is not. I think that's kind of played out because of circumstance. I doubt she'll be able to trust that friendship fully. I think Kalinda's character seems to have gone in a different direction. What keeps the show interesting and sort of satisfying is to see other people come into the central character's life to open her up. She needs female friendship, but she needs to start from scratch. She can't be pouring her heart out to someone who once slept with her husband. I mean, it's just not going to happen. It doesn't seem realistic. As much as I think the relationship worked in the beginning because Kalinda is such an independent, sort of suffragette woman -- it helped Alicia to see she didn't need to be a wallflower housewife anymore -- but I think there have been too many twists and turns there. To bring it back would be going backwards instead of moving forward. And there are only so many scenes at a bar you can do. [Laughs.] I do think what it did -- which is fantastic -- is it opened up a world to Alicia where she's going to realize she needs female friendship. In a certain way, having Dallas Roberts' character on the show -- her gay brother -- gave us an inkling, sort of a moment into that. Having Stockard Channing come into her life allows us to sort of see what her life was and how she was raised and why she is the way she is.
Speaking of Kalinda, what did you think of the backlash with the husband storyline?
I personally agreed with them. It didn't ring true to the show. The Kings have already talked about it. They went out on a limb and it didn't work and the beauty is that we get to recover. [Laughs.]
This doesn't happen frequently, but scenes where Alicia is crying and walking down a hallway, like when she found out Kalinda slept with Peter in Season 2, have staying power. Has this role been more emotionally taxing than others you've done?
I'll tell you how it's been more emotionally taxing is that she's always trying to hold in. Alicia doesn't cry in front of people. I think she's a much more subdued character than a volatile character. So there are moments where, as an actor, I want to scream, yell and cry, and I know that Alicia wouldn't do that. I think that's why the moments of her walking down the hallway in tears is in your head more because it's the only time you really see her do it. As an actor, it's much harder to walk down the hallway and cry than it is to actually have lines [Laughs] and talk because usually the lines get you to the tears ... So it's like, "OK, now you walk down the hallway and you're crying" and you're like, [Laughs] "F***! OK? How do I do that?"
I find the character so interesting to play and I always sort of feel like there's something that happens when I'm on set with this character that I've never experienced before. I think because of the clothes, the shoes, the hair and the makeup and who this person is, is so opposite of who I am that I just get to fully embrace her. I find it so challenging to maintain her stoicism. Her silences say more than words. I always want to make sure that those silences are meaningful and convey a message that I cannot speak. In that sense, yes, it is the most challenging.
"The Good Wife" airs Sundays, 9 p.m. ET on CBS.