[Spoiler alert: The following interview reveals major plot points from Sunday's Season 4 finale of The Good Wife. Read at your own risk.]
Vive la résistance indeed! The Good Wife threw fans a major curveball in Sunday's Season 4 finale when Alicia (Julianna Margulies) opened the door not to her on-again-off-again (and on-again?) crush Will (Josh Charles), but to her colleague Cary (Matt Czuchry). Instead of gambling with her heart, Alicia decided to gamble with her career and is leaving Lockhart/Gardner to start a new firm with her one-time rival. "I think there were some people out there hoping for Alicia and Cary to start their own firm, but I don't think many people actually believed that it would happen," Czuchry tells TVGuide.com of Alicia's bombshell decision. "[Series creators and showrunners Robert and Michelle King] just have that courage to risk it all. And I think that's what they've done." As have Alicia and Cary! So why they'd do it? And what's next? Czuchry reveals all that and more.
When did you first know that Cary would be going out on his own? Did you get any forewarning that Alicia would be going with him?
Matt Czuchry: The "Red Team, Blue Team" episode is when things started getting put in motion and I had a meeting with the Kings at that point. They laid things out generally but not specifically. So I didn't really talk to them in terms of how this would specifically be resolved. I found out when I read the scripts and saw the last moment in the script was Alicia's decision.
Why did Cary ultimately decide to go out on his own?
Czuchry: In essence, he was offered partnership and it was taken away from him. This was essentially his second time coming back and being rebuffed by Diane and Will so I think that also combined with those two episodes with Cary's father. Cary felt that it was time to get out from underneath his father's shadow and become his own man. He realized he didn't want the life that he had been brought up in. He realized that if he was going to make some changes, he was going to have to take things under control for himself.
That second episode with Cary's father is particularly revealing because we've seen him go to great lengths to get the job done, but never quite that far.
Czuchry: I looked it at in terms of this was a good client for Cary and the firm to have. It was momentarily lost and he was going to do anything that he could to bring that client back to the firm. I think that what that shows in Cary is that confidence and ambition that he's always had, but now he's also had more life experiences and more experience as a lawyer. In the past, he wouldn't have undercut his father in that way, but Cary had the confidence to do that.
It is a risky situation to even think about starting a new firm because if the partners found out, he could have lost his job. What do you think makes Cary so unafraid of doing this?
Czuchry: Well, I don't know if he's necessarily unafraid. I think he feels like he has to do this. I know when I moved to Los Angeles 13 years ago after I graduated college, it was one of the most difficult decisions I had ever made in life. I didn't know anybody and I didn't have a job and there was a lot of angst at the beginning, but at the same time, I knew I had to do it. I think that Cary feels the same.
Going into Season 5, how do you think Cary will be able to handle those managerial-type tasks at the new firm that he never really had on his plate before at Lockhart/Gardner?
Czuchry: What makes it exciting for both Cary and Alicia is that, in so many ways, they're starting over. They're risking it all for this new venture, and with that comes not only being a good lawyer but the managerial aspects of what clients do we have? We have to win cases. We see in this season finale of him looking for office space and how he wants Kalinda to come with them, but he may not be able to afford her. All those business issues, as well as trying to win cases and being a good lawyer, is something we haven't seen Cary or Alicia have to do before. So them having to do that for the first time and having to do it together is going to be fun to explore at the beginning of Season 5.
Cary has been passed over for promotions twice for Alicia at Lockhart/Gardner. Why do you think he still wants to work with her and take this risk with her? Besides the fact that it helps that her husband is now the governor of Illinois?
Czuchry: In the end of the "Red Team Blue Team" episode, she says they offered her partnership and that she's going to take it. And Cary said, 'Yeah, you should.' I think that, if Cary were in the same position, he would have done the same thing Alicia did. I also think that he knows how great of lawyer she is. When he says, "You and I are the new Will and Diane," he has a lot of respect for Will and Diane, and he has a lot of respect for Alicia and he truly believes they could be a great firm in Chicago together.
From your perspective, why do you think Alicia decides to go with Cary?
Czuchry: When she was offered partner, since then it's not been exactly what she's wanted it to be. She has ongoing stuff with Will, which is a factor I'm sure. Then at the same time, some of the issues in the way that the firm is handling certain cases and certain money issues and the assistants — the way that they are handling their business — she has now seen the underbelly of the firm. When she became partner, Cary had a valid point in saying we're the new Will and Diane because they've lost their way a little bit. I think that she feels that and agrees with that.
From the beginning of the series until now, how do you think Alicia and Cary's dynamic has evolved?
Czuchry: I think that's one of the nice things about them starting a new firm together is that you have a whole history between Cary and Alicia that is very complicated. They certainly have not been the best of friends the whole entire time, but at the same time, we've seen them work well together and they have a mutual respect for each other. Going from ultimate competitors in Season 1 to now going off to start their own firm together at the end of Season 4 shows a lot of growth in both of those characters. I think the fact that it hasn't been a perfect friendship between them, or even a perfect working relationship, will make that new firm and those relationships a little bit more dynamic and complex and will be fun to explore. One of the great things about is that they do have such a rich history together already that it's going to be complicated. It's not going to be completely blissful. They both feel like this is what they have to do at this point in their lives for different reasons, but that doesn't mean it's not without challenges and complications.
Your character spent a good amount of the show opposing Lockhart/Gardner when Cary was at the State's Attorney's office. As an actor, were you at all disappointed that Cary wouldn't be staying at Lockhart/Gardner longer the second time around?
Czuchry: Lockhart/Gardner has been the center of the show from the first season, and now, specifically with Alicia and Cary going off to start their own firm, it's going to be maybe two centers so to speak. It's a different kind of dynamic than it was at the State's Attorney's office. It feels like something brand new not only for Cary and Alicia, but this obviously affects the whole show because all of the characters — Will, Diane, Kalinda — are affected now.
Does that make you nervous at all that the show will be undergoing such a big change next season?
Czuchry: Each time you get to those changes in your character, there's always going to be some apprehension involved just because it's something new and it's uncertain and you're not quite sure how it's going to work out. I can say the same thing of the first season when my character lost [the bake-off] and went to the State's Attorney's office. Because you're going into the unknown, you're just unsure of what's going to happen and there are some uncertainties involved, but once you get the scripts, you just get down to work. I think with this particular story line, it comes at a great point in the show's overall history. We're going into Season 5 and this is a fundamental shift for the show and I think now is a great time to do it.
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- Matt Czuchry