'The Good Wife': Josh Charles talks Sunday's season finale, a special night on set, and his obsession with Howard Lyman

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Image Credit: Jeffrey Neira/CBS

On Sunday, CBS’ The Good Wife closes its third season with a finale directed by co-creator Robert King. As fans can tell from the promo, it’s a tense hour for Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) and Alicia (Julianna Margulies) as Kalinda’s past catches up to her, and also for Diane (Christine Baranski) and Will (Josh Charles) as the “dream team” Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) and Patti Nyholm (Martha Plimpton) unite to bankrupt Lockhart/Gardner. And yet, somehow, the episode could also be the most fun hour of season 3 thanks to the cunning Canning and Nyholm and the havoc they wreak. “I appreciated some of the comedy in it, the farcical quality of everybody bumping into each other,” Charles laughs, when asked how he felt first reading the script. He phoned us earlier this week at 1 a.m. from Paris, where he’s currently shooting the film Bird People with Lady Chatterley director Pascale Ferran, to dish on the finale and his hopes for season 4. (UPDATE: If you’ve seen the finale, read our postmortem with creators Robert and Michelle King.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The episode begins with Diane and Alicia winning huge in court, and Diane and Will thinking the firm’s money problems are temporarily at bay. Then, the dream team strikes. What can you tease about Louis and Patti?
JOSH CHARLES: [Laughs] They’re total ghouls. They’re very conniving and sharp in the way they battle us in this episode, and I’m hoping people enjoy the twists and turns to it.

I talked to Martha Plimpton, and she said she had a moment shooting this episode when she couldn’t believe all the actors gathered in one room: Michael, Christine, Julianna, you, Matt Czuchry, Tim Guinee [Andrew Wiley], and Mark Linn-Baker [Judge Linden, whose chambers they’re arguing in]. Did you have that same thought?
That was a special night. We always have late nights here and there, it happens. But to have a late night in these tight quarters, and like she said, there’s so many good actors. You’ve got Mark, and Michael’s there. My level of admiration for him is already very high, not only as just an actor and someone I’ve grown up watching and admiring, but the more I’ve gotten to know him from working on this show, just as a human being he’s exceptional. He was such a trouper that night, and all of us, we were just beat. There’s a moment I’ll remember: We needed sound for the opening [of the scene], and Robert had suggested we all just be improv-ing and arguing our legalese. It’s like two in the morning or whatever time it is. [Laughs] And we’re all just so terrified as to who’s gonna go first. Even though it was just for sound, we’re looking at each other like, who’s gonna take the first leap? Everyone was in good humor even though it was late and we were tired. So I agree with Martha, but I have that feeling throughout the season. There’s so many different days and nights where not only our main corps of actors, whom I love all of, but the guest actors are so great. It’s a real perk of the job to be able to work with so many amazing actors throughout the year. I feel really lucky.

On that note, are you hoping to see more of Howard Lyman (Jerry Adler) in season 4? I loved watching his scenes with Eli (Alan Cumming) last episode and Will being so certain Eli’s plan would self-implode.
First of all, I want him in every scene I’m in. I’m obsessed with him. I love the character. I love how they write it, the shifts and turns and how they’ve utilized him. I love Jerry. I love this beautiful humanity he brings to the role. He’s such an amazing person with such history in the business and such a class act. He brings such an incredible energy to the show. The scene where he asks Diane and me if Cary’s gay because he picked two men that he wanted to be on a deserted island with — if you could watch the outtakes on that, I cannot believe they cut it together because I didn’t even know I gave them one take without just completely almost pissing my pants. I would say I laughed in all but maybe one take. There’s just something about his delivery, he slays me.

Who would you most want to spend time with on a desert island?
Who would I take? Oh god. What is the question? It has to be two people? [Thinks for 5 seconds] Oh god, I don’t know. It’s one in the morning. You’re killing me. I don’t know what to do! [Laughs]

We can move on.
No, it’s a good question. Let me think. I would say… [Thinks for 20 seconds] Oh, I don’t know. I can’t answer it. It’s too tough right now. My brain’s fried. I’m sorry.

An easier question: Are you looking forward to getting back to the law next season when Will’s suspension will be lifted, or will you sort of miss being able to wear jeans?
[Laughs] I don’t know. I think he’s a competitive animal and he loves the law so much, he lives and breathes it. It’s so much a part of who he is, that yeah, it’s definitely gonna be good to see him back in action doing what he does, which I think is being a really good lawyer. To me, it will be really interesting to watch how he approaches the law after he’s gone through what he’s gone through, to see what kind of changes he brings to his lawyering and how that affects the dynamics of the firm given what’s gone down and Cary coming back.

Follow: @EWMandiBierly

Read more:
‘The Good Wife’ creators on that steamy Kalinda-Lana scene
Martha Plimpton on teaming with Michael J. Fox for ‘The Good Wife’ season finale
‘The Good Wife': Is Matthew Perry’s character evil enough for you to want Alicia and Peter united?
Recap of last week’s ‘Good Wife': Welcome Back to the Dark Side

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