You may not know film, stage and television actor Zach Grenier by name, but you’ll recognize him from some of his most memorable roles: the Boss in Fight Club, O’Reilly in Tommy Boy, The Fixer in the first season of 24, Beethoven in Moisés Kaufman’s 33 Variations (for which he was nominated for a Tony award). His résumé reads like a moviephile’s Netflix queue: Working Girl, Donnie Brasco, Twister, Zodiac, J. Edgar.
Now, as ethically challenged divorce lawyer David Lee on The Good Wife, Grenier is once again thrilling audiences—and enjoying playing such a polarizing character. “David Lee and I hit it off,” says the actor. “I’m having a lot of fun with it. He has a sense of humor—a real snarky point of view about the universe.
“There are things that an actor does that he does well, and things that an actor does just OK, but a good writer will find the things he does well and write for him, and The Good Wife writers have been doing that.”
Grenier demurs when asked about his own actorly strengths. “It’s not for me to say,” he says with a chuckle. “I never really know what’s going to get me cast. Sometimes I’ll come in and think, ‘Boy, did I ace that!’ and then I’ll be told I was terrible. Other times, I’ll forget about [the audition] forever because it went badly, and then I get it the next week.”
As Lee continues to be a pivotal character on the show, Grenier is excited that more of the lawyer’s layers will be revealed.
“[Show creators] Robert and Michelle King see human beings as complete entities, not just characters on the page or clichés. They see characters with contradictions; your favorite character on the show suddenly does something you don’t like, and as a viewer you have to deal with it. With David, the idea of having a niece he really cares about and loves—he can be so difficult with everyone else—makes you go, ‘Wow, that contradicts what you would assume David Lee would do.’ It’s such a smart way of doing characters.”
Fans aren’t shy about professing their strong feelings for Lee, as Grenier can vouch. “People really respond to him. They really like him, or they love to hate him. They like the outrageous aspect of him. I really like him. I’m always a little disappointed or surprised when a neighbor of mine says, ‘Geez, you’re so mean on that show.’ -Alison Prato