The Good Wife finale postmortem: Robert and Michelle King talk William Gardner
Robert and Michelle King say Will Gardner's return to the finale was meant to be a fantasy
In the end, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) didn’t get her man on The Good Wife — but she did get a chance to tell Will Gardner (Josh Charles) how she’ll feel for the rest of her life. In the wake of Sunday’s much-anticipated series finale of the CBS drama, EW had one last chat with creators Robert and Michelle King about that final script, and why it was important to hear Alicia tell Will she loves him.
Julianna Margulies told EW that she had read the final script several times before reaching out to you. What did she say?
Michelle King: She dropped us an email, which she did from time to time, and she let us know she had come to the conclusion that it was exactly what she hoped it to be.
Robert King: Your first instinct when you see something like this is that you want it to be wrapped up in bow, and where Jules had her biggest shift in thinking was how she didn’t want it wrapped up in bow. There is something in you that wants the sturdiness of an absolute decision, whether she ends up with a guy and what guy. I think I’m putting words in her mouth…
Michelle King: None of that was in her email!
Robert King: The phrase that she kept coming back to was, wanting to avoid wrapping things up in a bow.
Did you have many people trying to tell you how they think the show should end?
Robert King: Yeah, and they were all my mother. She obviously wanted Alicia to climb into the grave and sleep with Will Gardner. That’s unlikely. We had big discussions in the writers’ room. When we wrote on the white board, what the year was going to look like, there was always one word at the very bottom. It was circled in green and it was slap. That was always something we always knew we were writing toward. Two and a half, three months ago, we sat down and thought seriously about the last four episodes. Do we want this? Is another way to go? A lot of them had to do with something involving the guy, chasing the guy through airport or falling into the arms of one of the guys.
Michelle King: The conversations remained with the people working on the show.
Alicia’s line in the finale, ‘I love you forever.’ Was that a gift for fans?
Robert King: Yeah, and because clearly the chemistry that Julianna Margulies and Josh Charles had was unparalleled. The closest was probably between Julianna and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. So yes it was a gift to the fans and it was an acknowledgement of the truth, as if they were real characters. They did love each other more than anybody else. Josh and Julianna are that good.
When did the idea evolve to have Josh’s ghost appear in the finale?
Michelle King: In our minds, it wasn’t a ghost. It was a fantasy in some sequences and in others, a memory. You weren’t really meant to believe that Will Gardner’s ghost came back.
Robert King: We reached out to Josh Charles and he reached out to us around the same time. We always want to work with him, so we stayed in contact and we asked if this was a possibility and we found out through his agent it was. As soon as we found out, we started moving in that direction. The writers’ room had this idea of Alicia returning home three times to each of the guys — and the last one, which would be a surprise, would be Will Gardner. It was a very cinematic way to tell a story without any words and it would all be to music. That was a pitch with Josh and also that he would help Alicia change her thinking.
Have you gone on the internet in the last 24 hours? Are you interested to see how people reacted to the finale? It seems like people are right down the middle of the road.
Robert King: There are series endings that are probably a little bit easier to digest. We wanted something a little more troubling, a little more unsettling, to answer some questions but leave some unanswered. So I hope it is right down the middle. That would be lovely.
How did famed attorney David Boies end up in this episode?
Michelle King: One of the writers who was on show was friendly with someone in David Boies office, so after we conceived idea, he was the one who made the connection.
Robert King: He did [have a ball] because it was not a very serious arc.
Over the history of the show, what did executive producers Ridley Scott and the late Tony Scott mean to you and The Good Wife?
Robert King: Ridley Scott was a bit like Charlie in Charlie’s Angels. He’s this master at his craft who would send us notes in these complicated emails — more so near the beginning and after that, maybe three or four times a year. He’d ask if we were printing too dark. It was usually about the visuals, and then in flattering terms about the complications of story telling.
I understood how the Scotts divided their company. Tony handled other things and we were under Ridley’s umbrella. We only got a few emails from Tony. It was almost always from Ridley. He was just this gentlemen’s gentleman. He watched every episode, no matter whether he was in Morocco or off in Iceland shooting. He made like five movies while we made seven seasons. Every step of the way he’s been there, along with his representative David Zucker, who’s been like a sibling of ours. I cannot wish anybody a better process than to be with Ridley Scott and David Zucker.