After tackling impeachment and the “pee-pee tape” last year, how will The Good Fight incorporate the Tweeter-in-Chief into its third season (premiering Thursday on CBS All Access)? With a story about Melania Trump’s possible divorce from her husband. “It’s probably the closest to our ‘golden showers’ episode last year,” says Robert King, who co-created Good Fight and Good Wife with his wife, Michelle. The first lady — or someone who says she’s Melania — reaches out to Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) for some legal help. “Lucca’s mostly dealing with her on the phone — so there’s a question of whether this is a prank, but it’s a very elaborate prank if it is one. President Trump has asked his wife to re-sign a post-nup, and she has gone outside of the White House, in fact outside of D.C., to find a lawyer to help advise her on all the particulars of the post-nup.”
Three seasons in, The Good Fight — which started out as a straight-forward spin-off of The Good Wife, focusing on Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) as she joins an African-American law firm — has evolved into a smart, sometimes surreal masterpiece about a group of highly-intelligent lawyers navigating our highly-unusual times. In addition to Trump-tweaking, The Good Fight will explore racial tensions among liberals, “mothering while black,” and whether the truth really matters in 2019. EW asked Robert and Michelle King for the scoop on new cast member Michael Sheen, the upcoming “Raspberry Beret” moment, and why there won’t be a Goop-inspired storyline this season.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The big addition to the cast this season is Michael Sheen. What can you tell us about his character, Roland Blum?
ROBERT KING: We have him for seven episodes, which is very exciting. He is inspired by Roy Cohn, the actual living person who died in 1986. A lawyer who was the mentee of Joe McCarthy, of the McCarthy era, and who became a mentor to Donald Trump. So there is a direct connection — you could draw a line from the 20th to the 21st century, and that connecting line would be this man who inspired both radical conservative movements.
Our Roy Cohn-like character is called Roland Blum, played by Michael Sheen. His take, and the take of this season, is [this]: In a post-factual world, it’s more important to have the better story than it is to have the better fact. He lives that, breathes that. He goes into court with no notes. He criticizes Maia, the Rose Leslie character, for bringing in notes. [He says], “No, you need to breathe the jury, you need to smell the jury, and the jury will then inform you what they want to hear. Tell them what they’re excited to hear.”
Maia, who’s still probably the most naive, is being influenced by a bad angel of a father. But everything in the show is of two minds — so is it a bad angel, or in a world like today, is that a better way to be?
MICHELLE KING: What’s similar between Blum and Cohn is the lack of ethics, the appetites, the outsized personality. What is not the same is the sexual orientation. We did not incorporate that.
Does he interact mostly with Maia?
MK: He’s sort of a cancer, in that you see him start with Maia, but he metastasizes, and pretty soon he’s all over the firm.
RK: The most we see him with Christine Baranski and with Delroy Lindo. And when he’s in the firm, the firm is so suspicious about him that they put a bodyguard on his tail, and that’s Marissa [Sarah Steele]. Marissa’s constantly following him, and there’s sort of an interesting relationship there…
Diane, she’s involved with the resistance, and she’s finding that you can take the weapons of the people you’re trying to overthrow and use them. One of the quotes being used throughout the episode is, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Liz Reddick [Audra McDonald’s character] quotes that, but is it true? Or should you use any tool available?
How will racial tensions affect the firm this season?
RK: Well, Lucca Quinn [Cush Jumbo], who is always wary of identifying herself racially, is impacted by one of those “mothering while black” episodes. It’s videotaped, and she finds out, like most people in America, when you’re videotaped, either as a hero or a villain, you still get the crank calls, you still get the hate mail. It starts to make her sensitized to something that she’s tried to remove herself from, which is racial politics. And she starts to see the racial disparities even within the firm, about white attorneys being brought in.
So a firm that tried to hold itself immune to the racial paranoias of workplaces starts to be overwhelmed by it. When you think, “Oh, we’re all good liberals together,” you kind of overlook the fact of no, there still are a lot of other issues in the world other than liberal [vs.] conservative.
MK: And some of these good liberals are making a better paycheck than other good liberals, and then suddenly there’s an issue.
What can you preview for Diane (Christine Baranski)?
RK: She and Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole) have never lived with each other nonstop. They’ve always been kind of a high functioning alpha-dog relationship on the go. They were more roommates than husband and wife. We’ll explore how do they commit to each other, and is Diane going to be jealous again? We really follow Diane more at home than we have ever, obviously because we love Gary Cole.
MK: The two of them together are so wonderful together, and it’s just like getting into a warm bath when you see the two of them opening the season.
RK: The other thing is something we pushed aside last year, which is Diane’s relationship with Rose Leslie’s character, Maia — it was always supposed to be a close relationship that was just thrown a monkey wrench by the Madoff-like scandal. But now Maia’s coming under the wing of this Blum character, and Diane’s trying to be the good angel on her shoulder, as Blum is the bad angel on her shoulder.
What’s going to happen with Liz this season?
RK: Well, she’s pursuing a divorce. Her and her husband are not getting along well. He’s a police captain — you saw him a little bit in season 2. That just throws a monkey wrench into what Liz and Boseman [Delroy Lindo] think of each other. Because they’re working side by side at the same time that she’s going through this.
Last season Adrian survived an assassination attempt. What will he face this season?
RK: With Boseman, he’s really trying to take the law firm in a more corporate and less ethnic direction. He’s trying to take it in a more corporate, more country-clubbish direction, to defend itself against just being an ethnic law firm. But the difficulty is it’s creating a lot of havoc within the law firm, and he and Liz are getting closer. It’s not necessarily romantic, it’s purely they’re becoming closer because they’re running a firm.
There’s a woman he meets and that becomes a subject — after Liz’s divorce — it becomes a subject of what’s Boseman about. Which is fun by the way, because Delroy — when he metaphorically lets his hair down — is really a cool, funny person that I’ve never seen him do before. He kind of lightens up in a very interesting way — it’s kind of fun to watch.
As for Julius (Michael Boatman), he may be recruited to become a federal judge?
RK: He is being groomed, because he’s African-American, Republican, and a Trump supporter, to be a diverse candidate for a federal judgeship. They keep trying to give him handlers — you sort of have to campaign, but not seem like you’re campaigning. And who he decides to use [as a consultant] is Marissa, the Sarah Steele character. So we see a little bit of Marissa, the way her dad [Alan Cumming’s Eli Gold] influenced her.
It’s interesting because she’s not Republican herself but she’s like a political mechanic — she realizes she has those genes, so it just makes for an interesting odd couple relationship, Julius Cain and Marissa Gold.
MK: They’re both such gifted actors and both so comic, it is really wonderful to see them in scenes together.
What other issues will the show tackle this season?
RK: There’s something called Forbidden Stories, a real group. When a reporter is killed, as the Maltese reporter was last year, this group of reporters from all over the world dive in and continue that reporter’s work so that no one feels that they can kill a reporter and kill a story. We’re working on a case that explores what Forbidden Stories does.
When I was in the writers’ room in November of last year, I saw the word “Goop” written up on the board. Did you end up writing a story line inspired by Gwyneth Paltrow’s luxury lifestyle brand?
RK: [Laughs] No. The problem is, it’s not really a grey area. It’s just — you’re always looking for subjects that are a grey area, and it would just be us making fun.
You revealed at the Television Critics Association press tour panel that Diane and Liz will sing a bit of Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” this season. What can you tease about that?
RK: It’s an episode about a corporate psychologist coming in to help solve some of the racial issues in the firm, and Diane and Liz are trying her out.
One of the questions is, Do you like Prince? The expectation is that Liz really likes him, and that Diane is a little bit neutral, but Diane loves him too. So later when they’re working, Liz comments, “I was just surprised by that, you don’t seem like the Prince-type.” And then Diane, just to show off, starts kind of humming and then singing “Raspberry Beret.” It’s one of those songs that if you hear it, you just have to sing along – even people who can’t sing. We just wanted a song that is infectious.
MK: There is nothing better than watching the two of them sing.
The Good Fight season 3 premieres Thursday on CBS All Access.