Alan Cumming on his last, ruthless season of The Good Wife

Alan Cumming on his last, ruthless season of The Good Wife

Alan Cumming is absolutely nothing like Eli Gold. The actor, author, singer and recent Golden Globe-nominee is courteous, gentle and funny – a stark contrast to his audacious character on The Good Wife.

In a recent Q&A, Cumming chatted about the time he’s spent with the fan favourite character and hinted at his future on the show.

Eli Gold has been referred to as a saboteur, but his arc has completely changed this season. How do you feel about him?

I’m very, very fond of [Eli]. He’s a hot mess, but I like him. He’s got a good heart I think. He’s just kind of ruthless, but he’s actually not so bad.

I actually like playing him because he’s so completely different to me. And that’s quite fun to be inside the head of someone. But I think he’s kind of spiraling out of control this season. Something happens to him and he’s not able to do what he normally does and he doesn’t function like that. I think he needs more interests. He should take up medication or something.

How would you describe Eli’s relationship with Peter and Alicia this season?

Dysfunctional and unhealthy. But I think this season, because of what [has] happened…he’s thrown into a whole different phase of his relationship with Peter (Chris Noth), and it really makes Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Eli’s seem much more like a weird old married [couple]. I think the thing that I really like this season is that everyone admits that they’re using each other. I quite like that it’s getting dark but everyone is being more honest.

Are we going to continue to see more of the battle between Eli and Ruth?

I love Margo [Martindale]. She’s just hilarious…and we do lock horns a lot. But it’s just fun to have someone to spar with like that. It’s been nice to have a regular nemesis and Margo is just really so brilliant and such a fun times type of person. We laugh a lot…I just love the way that [they’re] kind of always dueling with each other.

What have you learned from Eli over seven seasons?

I suppose I’ve learned [with people like Eli that] you kind of [need to] look at the bigger picture. He’s in it for the long haul. And so I guess I’ve learned to sort of think about things in a long term way.

But apart from that, I’m not sure there’s many tricks for me that I actually would welcome in my own life. I think that’s why I like playing [him and how] he’s so different to me. There’s not many positive things [from Eli] that I would like to bring into my life.

What are the challenges of playing a character for so long?

I thought initially that playing someone where you didn’t know the ending of [his story would be] difficult for me because I’d always done films or plays [where] you know what’s going to happen to this guy. But I’ve actually come to really enjoy that. But sometimes, big plot things happen and all of a sudden you just have to be nimble and on your toes.

I think you’ve got to shake it up every now and then. I really feel [that this] season because I did speak to the writers…and they gave me so much more interesting stuff to do. And I think that was good for [us] and the show in general.

Do you think the series will continue or end after this season?

We’re at one of these points now where we’re not quite sure what’s going to happen. We don’t know whether it’s the last one or not. But I plan to leave at the end of this season. So whether that’s the end of the show or whether it carries on without me I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows.

It’s quite difficult doing these kind of press conferences [as] we’re asked about the show and we have no idea what’s going to happen. The writers only know at the last minute…but I’ve really, really, really enjoyed [being on the show]. And I’m really glad that this season has been so exciting for me…but I think it probably will be my last one.

I’ve got some films lined up and some other projects. I’ve enjoyed being at home and having a structure in my life. I’m always in New York and just working on the show. But I’m quite looking forward to that changing [and being able] to travel the world and do different projects.

What lasting memories will you take away from The Good Wife?

I think my lasting memories would be just how grateful I am to have been in such a good show that was so well written, deals with important issues intelligently and doesn’t tell the audience what to think. I think we really are in a golden age of television right now [where] the standard writing, production and variety [are] really amazing. And I’m really proud of that.

The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9 pm et/pt on Global, and you can catch up on the latest episodes right here!

Alan Cumming spoke to GlobalTV.com and other reporters via Los Angeles. Some answers were edited for brevity and clarity.

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