Photographed at the Kensington Hotel, London
Matt Czuchry wears a sharp dunhill suit as he sits on the ledge of a fourth-floor drawing room in London’s South Kensington. The Good Wife star gazes out the window and transforms from Hollywood actor to quintessential British gent with each snap of the shutter.
Work should never be this easy, but Czuchry makes it so. Whether he’s working on a Watch! photo shoot or his role on the Emmy-nominated CBS drama, Czuchry is the guy you can’t help but root for, even if he’s impossibly good-looking, charming and talented. Consider: In five years on The Good Wife, the actor has taken the smarmy, climb-over-dead-bodies-to-get-ahead Cary Agos from Episode1 and turned him into one of the show’s most likable, disarming characters.
The same can be said for Czuchry, who is both likable and disarming. The actor is not nearly as cocky as his TV counterpart; in fact, quite the opposite. On this day, as he shoots at The Kensington Hotel in west London, he is ever the gentleman, deferential to everyone from the photographer to a puppy trainer who has brought four precocious Labradoodles as extras. The actor smiles easy and often, asks everyone how they’re doing—and actually means it.
Even in the middle of eight wardrobe changes, grooming and a revolving door of extras, Czuchry is exceedingly polite and inclusive, and also in on the joke. He knows today’s concept—featuring Czuchry as “Mr. Perfect,” helping fix cars, carry puppies and walk an older woman down a staircase—is a gentle poke at his good-guy reputation, and he eats it up. But once the camera is on, the actor focuses like a laser beam. Having been a working actor for 14 years now, his dedication to his craft is legendary.
Thankfully, it’s not all work on his jaunt across the pond. Czuchry is just as excited to see London as he is to shoot there.
“It’s an unbelievable experience to come here for the first time,” says the actor, over dinner at the hotel. “I admire the sophistication and the class and the service and the elegance of the people. That immediately stands out to me.”
What also stands out is Czuchry. Try as he might to keep a low profile, the success of the series abroad has made him a celebrity, even in a stately London hotel where Julia Roberts is known to hole up.
“My daughter loves you,” one guest coos as she approaches Czuchry at the table. “Do you think you could talk to her? It would be such a great surprise,” she says, then thrusts her cellphone into his face. He indulges her, of course, taking the phone and talking to the daughter without so much as batting an eye.
Afterward, an almost bashful Czuchry plays down the experience. “I definitely didn’t get into this job because I wanted to be famous, or for the women,” he laughs. “It’s very humbling and flattering … it’s nice. But it’s not something I think about in my daily life.”
Czuchry is soft-spoken, talking with a measured slowness, calculating how to articulate his next thought. “When things started happening in terms of getting recognized, it was an interesting process,” the actor muses. “One of the important things for me was looking up the difference between confidence and arrogance. It’s OK to have nice things happen to you—you should embrace that. Everyone needs to know how to accept compliments and say thank you. I learned that quickly.”
“He’s a genuine human being with a great heart and a great work ethic,” echoes series star Julianna Margulies. “He will be the first person to write the sweetest emails about scenes he’s watched and been moved by.”
He’s always been a quick learner. Czuchry, whose parents, Andrew and Sandra, raised him in Johnson City, Tenn., went on to graduate with honors from the College of Charleston. While he was a tennis ace—Czuchry went to school on a tennis scholarship and was an NCAA-ranked player in the Southern Conference—he also got a ton of attention off the court, winning the Mr. College of Charleston charity event in 1998.
Czuchry got a crash course in fame with his breakout role as fan favorite Logan on the hit teen drama Gilmore Girls. “A lot of those fans have tirelessly followed my career,” says the actor, clearly appreciative of the support. “The show had a strong female fan base—they were very passionate. I still get moms and daughters coming up to me and telling me that Gilmore Girls still has a really soft spot in their hearts, that it’s something that they’d make time for together to watch.”
He’s progressed to a decidedly more mature role as Cary Agos on The Good Wife, a role he won five years ago. The actor uprooted his life in Los Angeles to film the series in New York and has never looked back. The show’s brilliant writing, clever casting and a strong ensemble have made it a critical darling. And Czuchry is as much a part of that as anyone, making Cary a complex but relatable character whose story arc has only grown larger as the show has progressed. And he identifies with the character in some surprising ways.
“Cary is a very driven character, and I see myself as very driven. But part of the fun of doing a long-running TV show is the growth of the character,” the actor says. “And my character has changed a lot in the past five seasons. I love the evolving Cary and Alicia relationship—from competitors in Season 1 to adversaries in Season 2 to starting their own firm together at the beginning of Season 5. It’s definitely an exciting time for the series.”
He also has a deep respect for the show’s cast, calling stars Margulies, Christine Baranski, Chris Noth, Josh Charles, Archie Panjabi and Alan Cumming “insanely talented.”
“I’m surrounded by these fantastic, award-winning actors, and everyone has high standards,” Czuchry says. “You can wilt under that pressure, or use it as a benchmark. Ultimately for me, it is not about getting an award. But it is about trying to reach for a certain standard of excellence.”
He’s already there, if you ask his cast mates.
“Matt has the most intoxicating enthusiasm to always strive for the best,” says Margulies. “He works hard and takes his role very seriously. It’s wonderful to watch how much he’s grown in this character.”
When he’s not filming The Good Wife, Czuchry looks for other interesting characters to play in movies and theater, but the time constraints are tough.
“Theoretically I could do a movie, but the window is so small it’s very difficult to get timings right, and find the right project you love and they love you back,” he says. “It’s rare for all those things to come together. For example, I was cast in a movie and then the film’s dates changed. So I instantly became unavailable again. But, you understand that’s the nature of this challenging business.
“And travel, I love to travel,” he says. “I can’t believe it’s taken me 36 years to make it here to London.”