Does Alicia love him? Does he love her?
No matter: The world has always loved The Good Wife's Josh Charles
As a teenager, Josh Charles stole hearts in Dead Poets Society. In his 20s, he stole scenes in Threesome and Don't Tell MomtheBabysitter's Dead. And by 30 he stole entire shows (think Aaron Sorkin's late, great Sports Night). Little wonder, then, that in his 40s he's one of the best characters on TV: legal eagle Will Gardner of The Good Wife, a role that has earned him an Emmy nomination, a critical mass of critical acclaim and more than one blog devoted exclusively to his will-they-or-won't-they relationship with Julianna Margulies' character, Alicia Florrick. Earlier this year, Charles opened up about what's next for Will and Alicia, what really happens between takes, and whom he gets mistaken for. (Hint: He's also on CBS.)
Watch!:Did you honestly have any idea the show would be this successful?
Josh Charles: You never know. Hollywood is like Vegas sometimes—particularly TV shows—what's going to stick or not. But I certainly thought the writing was really strong and knew it had potential. The question with any show is, can that writing sustain itself? And I think that's been one of the most amazing things: doing it on a network schedule, 22 times a year. The writers just keep turning out excellent material.
Watch!:Let's talk Will and Alicia. What do you think her defection will mean for their relationship—and for the show in general?
Josh: I think it stirs things up in a really good way. Since Alicia has been named a partner she's seen some of the dark side of management, and that hasn't really thrilled her. So I think her leaving the firm is part of that, part wanting to do things on her own, and part wanting—or needing—to create distance from Will because of their relationship, or whatever it is. And it'll be interesting to see how that all plays out.
Watch!:Do you think it creates the possibility of more romance, or does it put up more of a wall?
Josh: My feeling is that she believes it will give them more space not for a relationship, but to prevent a relationship. To sort of stop what's happening. She needs to have distance to do that, combined with wanting to start on her own and do things her own way.
Watch!:Do you have a personal desire to see them go one way or the other?
Josh: As long as it's interesting and feels honest and authentic. … What's interesting to me is that you're dealing with a relationship that has a tremendous amount of passion and conflict.
Watch!:Do people just walk up to you on the street and offer their unsolicited, expert opinions about it?
Josh: Yeah, I mean that's the beauty of New York, you know? [Laughs.] It's one of the amazing things about this city: People are just willing to talk to you. But also, when you're on a television show, it's a different experience than with other media. People really feel like you're in their homes on a weekly basis, and there's a different kind of connection with audience members than when they see you in a film or a play.
Josh: People talk to you as if you're your character! Years ago when I did In Treatment, this woman came up to me in the supermarket and was like, "You're an a––hole!" I was like, "Excuse me? I'm just trying to, um, get some apples here. … Oh you mean my character's an a––hole! Well, you know that's not really me, right?" So that type of stuff happens with The Good Wife, too. You just have to remind people, "This is a character, written by Robert and Michelle King and their incredible writing staff—"
Watch!:"And here's their cellphone number."
Josh: [Laughs.] By and large, people really love the stories they've created here, and I think that's what so great about this. One time I was on the phone walking down the street and some lady just grabbed me! I forget what she said, but it was like, wow, she felt it was really important to grab me and let me know.
Watch!:There are entire websites devoted to you and Alicia. I take it you're not clicking refresh on the comments sections every hour?
Josh: Definitely not. [Laughs.] That's a recipe for disaster.
Watch!:How do you and Julianna keep things light on set?
Josh: Jules and I have known each other a long time. It's a very tightknit group and there's lots of giggles. I'm accused more than anybody of laughing because that's how I've always been—a giggler. It doesn't take much to set me off. If a take's getting screwed up because someone's laughing, I'm usually the one involved in it somehow, even though because of that reputation I get blamed for things when it's not even my fault.
Watch!:What do your co-stars tease you about the most?
Josh:There's always something, probably well deserved. Christine Baranski's favorite expression about me is, "Awww, you're the baby cub that didn't get licked enough." So it's stuff like that. A lot of ball busting. You feel like such naughty school kids because everyone's just sitting around like, "Oh, these actors, laughing."
Watch!:You've had a lot of big roles in your career but have still managed to fly under the tabloid radar. Are you just a paparazzi ninja, or is it good luck?
Josh: I try to work really hard and take the work really seriously, but not myself very seriously. It really is about the work, not about me. I've never aspired to do this for
attention as much as I have to do good work.
Watch!:When you do get attention, what's it usually for?
Josh:I had a girl come up to me the other day. She was Australian or something and she had just gotten to New York and she stopped me on the street because she was so excited. She was like, "You're the first famous person I've seen, and I've just got to take my picture with you! I know you're in your skivvies"—I had just come from the gym—"would you really mind?" I'm like, "No, I'm fine with that." She goes, "I used to love your show Eli Stone and I don't miss Elementary. …" I was like, "Ohhhh, you think I'm Jonny Lee Miller."