Image Credit: John Filo/CBSMatt Czuchry would be the first person to tell you that Cary was never going to win the junior associate bake-off on The Good Wife. But after seeing the promo for Tuesday’s episode (CBS, 10 p.m. ET) — which shows Cary in cahoots with Childs (Titus Welliver), Peter’s nemesis — we’re suddenly okay with that. Here, Czuchry tells us how the contest was originally supposed to end, if we’ll be meeting Evil Cary (fingers crossed!), and why being crowned Mr. College of Charleston changed his path from being a lawyer to playing one on TV.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you ever hear from fans who were Team Cary? Was anyone rooting for him to win the competition instead of Alicia (Julianna Margulies)?
MATT CZUCHRY: I had somebody come up to me, she was very, very nice and very, very funny, and she was just like, “So are you gonna win the competition? Are you gonna do it? Are you gonna pull it off?” To be honest, I just don’t think anybody thought I was gonna win the competition because the show is called The Good Wife. [Laughs] What I do like is the fact that this [outcome] and the storylines that come out of it are kinda the second or third different storylines [toyed with by creators Robert and Michelle King]. Originally, it was just gonna be that both Alicia and Cary were gonna stay on, but Cary was gonna come at a lower salary position because of the economy. So they just changed it about two months ago. Robert called me, and [Laughs] he did the right thing: He laid the foundation with a joke. He said, “Hey, I just wanted to let you know… have you heard that Cary is getting a sex operation?” I said, “No, actually, I haven’t heard that.” “Okay, good.” Right after he dropped that joke he said, “So you’re gonna lose the competition.” I just went silent, listening and waiting to hear that I was out of a job. And then he told me the other future storyline. I think that the losing of the competition and where it goes afterward is a really big risk, but I feel like it’s a huge payoff for the audience. When you sit down at 10 o’clock on a Tuesday and watch the show — or you go asleep and DVR it, that’s okay, too — you’re instilling your confidence in the show that it’s gonna give you a return. This show constantly gives the audience a return. This specific storyline gives the audience a payoff for being invested this whole entire season. We kinda upped the competition in a way. It just becomes different.
Where does Cary go from here?
The next episode, there is a scene where I go off on Alicia and take a job from Childs. The final episode of the season is Cary actually over there. That’s something that they could have taken at least two or three episodes to explore, and it still would have been great, but they just jumped right to it. I think the show constantly does that — with each episode, you see these different twists and turns, they don’t hold back. Cary feels betrayed by the fact that he thought Stern, Lockhart & Gardner was his new family. It took him awhile to get to that place, but we saw in that episode “High,” where Cary and Alicia said, “Look, I don’t want you to lose,” “Yeah, I kinda like you,” he’d come to that point. He feels betrayed by Alicia and lets her know it. This was the biggest moment in Cary’s life — getting fired from a job like this, his first job out of law school. At that age, it just rocks your world. It’s a huge turning point for him. Once you feel that deep sense of loss, you will not miss any crumb of an opportunity to get back to the top. That’s what we see in the next episode. He’s not gonna be fooled to think that the workplace is his alternate family.
Are we going to see Evil Cary now, or will he still have his good moments?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that Cary’s gonna turn bad, although that is part of the fun of that character — it’s not a complete surprise that he would turn so quickly. But even Darth Vader’s got a little bit of good in him. He throws the Emperor over in the end. So I would say that even if Cary goes bad, he can still be like Darth Vader and still have a little good in him. He is gonna be a little bit different making that change, at least for the beginning of that storyline, because he is still feeling that loss and that burn. That drives his ambition, which comes back in a big way here. There is also the thing of, Look, they fired me, she went above and beyond to get the job, so he is a little bit justified in doing what he’s doing. He has an opportunity and he takes it. I think also the people at Stern, Lockhart, & Gardner understand that — it’s kind of the nature of the battlefield.
Watch the preview for this week’s episode
You actually considered attending law school, right?
When I was coming out of college — I majored in history and political science — I was planning on going to law school, and then decided not to. It’s pretty ironic that I’m now playing a fake lawyer on TV.
Notice how I’m not going to mention that you were Mr. College of Charleston and ask you to talk about how that got you into acting.
I love that. That’s like in Pretty Woman where Richard Gere says, “I would never call you a whore,” and she’s like, “You just did.” So thank you for not saying it.
It’s just interesting that that’s what led to your acting classes. Something good came out of that.
No, it’s funny. It was like a bunch of guys from sports teams and fraternities getting nominated for this, it was a charity event. Backstage, all the guys were obviously making fun of it, and then I started making fun of it, too. And then I looked at the list [of prizes] and saw these acting classes that were something I couldn’t afford to pay for at the time. I looked at that six-week acting class outside of school and instantly knew it was an opportunity, as crazy as it is. [Laughs] And I suddenly became very serious about wanting to win this thing that was ridiculous. Sometimes your path is revealed to you, and Mr. College of Charleston was a piece of it.
My last question: What did you do to win?
I guess why I did well was the interaction with the crowd and with the other guys on the stage — just kind of playing off the moment. I said my favorite movie was Boogie Nights, and I came out in a completely inappropriate outfit. [Laughs] So that kind of got the crowd excited.
Like a certain part of your anatomy was enhanced?
Although it’d probably be a better story if I told you that I did stuff it down there, I don’t think I did that. I don’t remember. But I do remember coming out in silk boxers, no shirt, and for some reason, these weird socks. That was the outfit. Oh, oh, and handcuffs.
Yeah, you deserved to win.
[Laughs] Thank you.
More Good Wife interviews: