ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Do you think the idea to make Will’s pickup basketball game with fellow lawyers and judges the alleged center of a judicial bribery scheme was in the back of producers’ minds the first time we saw him on the court?
JOSH CHARLES: That’s a question for [creators] Robert and Michelle [King]. I don’t know if it was part of the grand master plan. My instinct would say that they strive really hard to make people’s backstories mirror what we’ve seen on the surface so that things don’t feel like they’re pulled from left field. I think if you go back and look at the way Will handles himself business-wise, and his relationship with Tony Goldwyn’s character [Judge Baxter] with gambling issues, you can sorta see that maybe this stuff was imagined. I think it makes sense for who Will is. There’s a touch of the gambler in anybody really competitive and somebody that’s willing to concede that to succeed, sometimes you need to cut corners and to make bold choices. When you ask the reasoning for Will not sharing [news of the investigation with Alicia], there is this belief in certain gamblers that one take can make this all go away. I think maybe he’s still hoping that that can happen with this, that maybe he won’t have to share the information with Alicia.
Diane said she knows it’s not true that he’s a part of this alleged judicial bribery scheme. Should viewers be so sure?
By saying this, I’m not answering that one way or the other. I think what’s so great about the show is when we read scripts and see certain twists and turns, we discuss them and three different people can have three different ideas. I’m talking about another episode [in particular] that we were just talking about recently and a scene we shot that had nothing to do with this. That’s what they do so well in the writing. People can interpret it how they want to in some ways, and that leaves stuff open for discussion. In that regard, I don’t think anything is that black and white. Will is not some prince. Across the board on this show, we’ve seen lawyers and investigators push things to the brink. So much of the show is seeing Alicia get her hands dirtier this year and step into this moral abyss of the legal world of Chicago. I wouldn’t presume to tell viewers to think anything other than just think whatever they think.
No one likes to be told what to do, even if the person doing the talking is right. What can you tease about how Will will react to Diane telling him to stop sleeping with Alicia and to make this investigation go away?
I think people should just keep tuning in. It’s only gonna get more interesting. What’s so nice is the family dynamic that a workplace creates. The dynamic of Diane and Will and their relationship and having her be the person, which is appropriate, to confront him about it. It works on different levels. It’s not only your partner, it’s also someone who you view as a friend, as an associate, as an ally. I think it did kind of rock Will a little bit, and I think what’s nice is to see Will pay the price a little bit personally and professionally. I’ll leave it at that.
I loved seeing Diane and Eli having a drink together. That’s what we’re used to seeing her do with Will. Should Will be nervous about them bonding?
Eli is just sort of hydrogen, and it’s interesting to see how he fits into the scheme of the office now that he’s in there [Laughs] and how he interacts with the other characters and certainly the partners. I don’t think Will feels threatened by that at this point. He’s got bigger fish to fry right now.
Let’s talk about Cary. How gung-ho do you think he is on this investigation now? It was hard to tell when Wendy was briefing him on the change in objective.
What I get out of it is that the character is conflicted. I don’t think Cary’s necessarily gung-ho to try to bring Will down. Obviously, we made the decision not to retain him, then tried to bring him back and that didn’t work. But I think what’s great for the character is that he’s been able to thrive over [at the state's attorney's office] and the dynamic between him and Peter working together. What’s cool about the show is that we have this great ensemble. There’s enough to give people so they feel like their characters are growing. It’s such a marathon, these nine months, that I welcome it.
Out of curiosity, how many takes did it take you to say the line, “We lose cheese, we lose our quarter” without laughing?
I think it would be safe to say that if you rounded up the crew and the rest of cast and asked them who’s the naughtiest when it comes to giggling while we’re shooting, it would probably be me. And I’m not saying that necessarily proudly, but I would say it’s a matter of fact. The idea that I don’t know if I even laughed at that line, I would say there’s a solid 70 percent chance that I did. [Laughs] It’s something I’m trying to work on, but certain people just make me laugh. I laugh with Jules. I laugh with Christine quite often. I laugh with Archie. I can’t help it. I certainly laughed a whole lot with Linda Emond [who played the military court judge]. It was so nice that they found a way to bring her and Patrick Breen’s characters back with the military court. I love the dynamic between the judge and Will.
Why did he repeat aloud the things she caught him whispering to Alicia? Did he think she’d respect him coming clean, or did he just think he had nothing else to lose?
I thought it was a genius bit of writing because I think Will was just like, Ah, f— it. This is not even worth engaging in, so I’m gonna try to embrace it with some humor, and hope that the humor will return some courtesy in the courtroom.
Last question: You just made People‘s Sexiest Man Alive issue. I worry that Will’s so occupied with other things right now, we’re not going to see another sex scene anytime soon. Will we?
I don’t know. I really can’t talk about that. There’s certainly enough sex on the show going around between the triangle over there in the state’s attorney’s office. I think we’re well-covered here on the show.
I love those scenes because everything’s always done right out of frame. The writers get away with so much because they do it smartly.
You have to. Again, you got to tip your hat to Robert and Michelle. There’s certain things that you can do on cable that you can’t do here on network TV, so then you have to think outside the box a little bit. And that was no pun intended, by the way. [Laughs] I think they do think outside the box quite a bit.
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