EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Robert and Michelle King (Creators) from The Good Wife

November 4th, 2011 by

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I sing the praises of The Good Wife every week, and it’s a show that continues to surprise me as it shatters the procedural mold. It’s full of wonderful twists and turns and phenomenal acting and writing. I also love that it tackles issues that are extremely relevant and topical. I recently had the chance to talk to Robert and Michelle King (creators of The Good Wife) at an event for Human Rights First, where they were receiving the Sydney Lumet Award to for the show’s coverage of various human rights issues. We talked about how human rights factors into the show, the balance between procedural and character and what’s coming up this season (including some exciting guest stars).

What does it mean to both of you to be honored by Human Rights First and to get the Lumet award?

Robert King: It’s odd.

Michelle King: It’s humbling.

Robert King: It’s a show that’s meant to be entertaining. It’s nice that it does more but to be with these other people, it feels a little weird. To be frank. (laughs)

As you said, The Good Wife primarily entertains, but how do you feel social, topical and human rights issues fit into the show?

RK: The show’s intent is to take what you would consider high-brow, non-television issues and try to treat them in an entertaining fashion. Not just because that seems like a worthy goal because people can become educated about things, but also because you just try to be different. So, it’s the stuff we’re interested in. We’re interested in what’s going on in China with human rights, we’re interested in the middle east. So, why wouldn’t our characters be interested in it? So much of TV is sometimes about dumbing down your characters, but if those were real people and real life, they would share these issues.

MK: We’re fortunate in the regard that some of our characters are very interested in the political. So that just naturally leads into some of these areas.

Do you have any episodes coming up that you can tease that will be dealing with any of these types of issues?

RK: Yeah. We have one called “Executive Order 13224,” which is [this] Sunday. And in fact, it is a lawyer who saw our episode “The Great Firewall” last year, regarding human rights abuses in China. And he was talking about the difficulties of lawyers representing people accused of being terrorists in this country. And “Executive Order 13224″ which requires the lawyer to basically break attorney-client privilege and tell someone from the Treasury Department what they’re doing in the defense. And it’s a fascinating issue and it turned out to be a very good episode. It seems like the more pressing and crucial the issue is, the more exciting, actually, the episode is. So that one, I hope people look out for, because it’s very challenging. It’s really what’s going on today, and it’s based on this lawyer who contacted us after seeing “The Great Firewall.”

I find that The Good Wife is constantly breaking the procedural mold. When I watch it, I don’t feel like I’m watching a procedural. Does that factor in when you are writing each episode and breaking down the seasons?

MK: Yeah, absolutely. We definitely are very cognizant of trying to keep that balance between the characters’ personal stories and the procedural stories.

RK: It partly comes from what we are entertained by on TV. We do like a good mystery, but sometimes TV tends to just be the mystery and just drives the mystery. And it’s more interesting if it matters to people. And usually the people it matters to in procedurals is the guest cast. What we thought would be more interesting if our people had lives and issues of their own.

You’ve recently brought back some old guest stars in Dylan Baker, and Michael J. Fox is coming back. Can you talk a little bit about that and who else we might see coming up?

RK: Well, we’re actually shooting with Michael J. Fox right now. He’s doing the 10th episode with us. He’s just (laughs) so fantastic. TV is very fly by your pants. We changed a line in the car on the way over and phoned it in, and unfortunately, it’s going to land in Michael J. Fox’s trailer around 1 AM this morning, because they’re shooting tonight, and he’s going to have to learn it for tomorrow. It’s kind of inspirational, partly because he’s not doing it as inspirational, he’s playing a very cynical person and he’s using his comic chops. It’s amazing. I was changing lines on set, and he was like, “Oh, you’re setting up a gag, aren’t you?” (laughs) And then, people coming up. Bob Balaban is in that episode we were just talking about. He’s so good. And an actress we used two years ago, Carrie Preston, from “True Blood,” she’s also coming back. And then, who else? We have a lot of comic actors. John Michael Higgins, who’s excellent. He’s in a lot of Christopher Guest movies.

MK: Bill Camp.

RK: Bill Camp. Anna Camp’s coming back. We love her. Oh my gosh, she’s so good. So yeah, we have some good people coming up.

What can you tease about what’s coming up — Will and Alicia, Celeste — I know you can’t spoil a lot.

RK: (laughs) The bottom line is Martha from the episode we saw, doesn’t go away. She ends up at Canning’s firm — that’s the Michael J. Fox character. So, first of all, we love the actress.

MK: Grace Rex.

RK: Very good actress. When we like an actor or actress, we start bringing them back as much as we can. Beyond that, we have Parker Posey, who ends up being Alan Cumming’s ex-wife and then Sarah Steele, who plays his daughter, is coming back, too.

The Good Wife airs Sunday nights at 9 PM on CBS. For more info on Human Rights First, click here.

1 Comment

  • Such a great show. Not only is it beautifully written, well acted, and entertaining, but it brings up really relevant global issues in an organic way. Sometimes you have to watch the show a second time simply to understand the references – and when you do, they’re brilliant! I’m a big fan. And the cast is just outstanding!

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