With The Good Wife, Alan Cumming's in his most outrageous role yet
A punky, kilt-wearing Scotsman. Alan Cumming is an out-and-proud bisexual who runs with a die-hard art crowd. So, yeah, before he donned Eli Gold's staid business suits in The Good Wife, Cumming was hardly anyone's idea of a super- straight-laced political consultant. The joke? Cumming is loving this yuppie subterfuge. "I feel like I'm leading an undercover, downtown, double life while masquerading as a middle-America TV person!" he says with a laugh.
Watch!: After years of roles such as your Tony Award-winning emcee in Broadway's Cabaret and the coke-snorting Billie Blaikie on The L Word, has it begun to feel more normal to play normal on The Good Wife?
Alan Cumming: At first I thought, "I don't get this Eli Gold. We have nothing in common." But he's not normal—he's a swirling mass of contradictions! So when I look in the mirror I see "Eli, boring man in a suit," but when I'm playing him I feel he's quite insane. I don't know whether that means that I'm insane and filter everything through my own insanity or what.
Watch!: What would Eli think of Alan Cumming?
Alan: He'd think I was a bit of a wild card, a liability. But then he'd figure out how to make me useful. Like, maybe I could endorse Peter [Florrick, the state attorney played by Chris Noth whose campaigns Gold manages] if Peter wanted to go after the gay vote.
Watch!: Last year, Eli had a flirtation with a character played by America Ferrera. Will she be back?
Alan: There's going to be more romance for Eli this year, but I don't know if it's her. I have heard that he's going to have a "type" that he likes.
Watch!: On your website, alancumming.com, there's a photo of you getting a little action from Miss Cloris Leachman. Explain.
Alan: I was at the AIDS Walk in San Francisco; Cloris was there, too, and she just put her hand on my crotch. She was feeling the goods, seeing if the peach was ripe. I admire that. I hope I get to feel people's crotches when I'm 85. [Laughs.]
Watch!: Another photo we saw was of you being decried as "a red carpet disaster" at some la-di-da event. Does that irk you?
Alan: Most of the time I think it's a compliment, because it means that I look different and have a sense of myself. But, obviously, that's me mak-ing lemonade out of lemons, because in some instances, I think, "Oh, screw you! Look at what you're wearing!"
Watch!: Indeed. You're currently writing a memoir, you have your own fragrance for charity called 2nd Cumming, and you have another website, itsasickness.com, devoted to people's weirdest obsessions. You should do an exercise video to complete your résumé.
Alan: I've thought it would be great to do an exercise video dressed as Eli in a suit! It'd be about tightening your ass, just tightening everything. So Eli would go to exercise, but then he'd be really tense afterwards. It'd be hilarious.