By Lanford Beard
Updated February 03, 2012 at 07:11 PM EST
Adam Taylor/Fox

When Jeffrey Wright’s character Dr. Walter Cofield sits down with House for the first time, he doesn’t mince words: “I’ll be deciding your fate today.” It’s an interesting position for House, who is usually the one who literally decides people’s fates as he diagnoses what ails them. Wright talked to EW about his appearance on Monday night’s episode. He plays Foreman’s old mentor, who has been called in to determine whether House can continue practicing medicine. “He’s a guy who, unlike House, has made a career of coloring inside the lines,” explained Wright. The Golden Globe winner also discussed Cofield’s push-pull dynamic with House, his relationship with Foreman, and how he fits into the “circus” that is the House universe. Keep reading for hints about what happens when order collides with chaos.

When he’s thrown into the wild world of trial-by-fire life-saving, Cofield experiences “a mixture of curiosity, disdain, and envy for House’s procedures,” said Wright. “Cofield is a guy who perhaps couldn’t afford to be as freewheeling as House, and there’s some curiosity from his perspective about House’s work.” He teased, “That can work both ways. It can work to make him more relentless in pursuing some kind of negative judgment against House, or it can make him, like everyone else, get caught up in reverence.”

That said, Wright insisted that Cofield “doesn’t have a personal agenda, it’s all professional.” Cofield “is a guy who has a respect for protocol [and] doesn’t let his personal perspective interfere with the professional.” That dogged, dispassionate approach, noted Wright, actually makes Cofield and House fundamentally similar in their approach to medicine — “but it manifests itself in different ways. There’s overlap between their personalities that may not be obvious. Clearly they are in some ways each other’s alter ego.”

Are you biting your nails over House’s fate, TV fans? Are you excited to see someone else wield the power for once?

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