'Good Wife': Hunter Parrish on His Role in the Big Death (Q&A)
"It's an interesting dynamic to go from the kid that everyone loved from that pot show to fully hated," the "Weeds" alum tells THR the day after Sunday's monumental episode.
[Warning: Major spoilers ahead from Sunday's episode.]
It's been a crazy 24 hours for fans of The Good Wife.
Sunday's episode, "Dramatics, Your Honor," saw the death of a lead character when an unhinged client, Jeffrey Grant, fired gunshots in a Cook County courtroom, fatally wounding Lockhart Gardner attorney Will Gardner (Josh Charles), who was later pronounced dead at the hospital. The death came as a shock to viewers: 64 percent of The Hollywood Reporter readers felt Will should have been spared. Meanwhile, co-creators Robert and Michelle King penned a letter to fans, while Charles and his co-stars sounded off on his exit.
Hunter Parrish, who played the unhinged client who fired the fatal shot, talked to THR about the secrecy surrounding the pivotal hour, questioning Will's death and getting hate on Twitter.
Big 24 hours for you.
(Laughs) Definitely a big 24 hours for Good Wife fans.
You first appeared in the Nov. 10 episode earlier this season. Did you know when you first signed on that this was what your character would end up doing?
I did not. I did a show with Robert and Michelle King before, maybe eight years ago, that only lasted one season [In Justice]. They called me and said, "We have this role, it's two episodes and it's going to be this kid who gets wrongly accused and they can't get him off and it ends in some tragic way." They sort of alluded to him maybe even killing himself in jail. But then when I got this script, it was not any of those things. (Laughs) I was honored to be part of a huge plot twist like this. They were on set the whole week that we were filming this, and we had discussions. They were excited and nervous, but I didn't really know. I knew it would be something tragic, but I had no idea. Some of the hair and makeup people weren't even aware that Josh was leaving.
So you found out when you read the script?
I asked them! "Well, is he dead? Is he really dead?" And they were like, "Yeah, he's really dead." [Josh and I] shared an agent at the time, so I knew that he was potentially leaving the show, but I didn't know if I would be a part of that plot and as I read the script, I was like, "OK, I guess I'm a part of that plot."
What was your initial reaction when you discovered Jeffrey would be the one to put the bullet in Will?
I like to attack really good material and stuff that's a notch above the norm, and clearly this is a notch above the norm. It's always exciting when you get to be a part of something that really moves the storyline in a huge way. Obviously a main character leaving a show that's been on for five years, that's a big episode, sort of elevates it in a sense. I read it and I was excited that I got to be a part of it. It was an honor that [the Kings] allowed me to be a part of that, because it is precious to them, I know from conversations with them and some articles the creators have released.
What was that day like, when you filmed the courtroom shooting?
You might see pieces of it in the next episode, as they reference back to it. It was pretty rough. The [cast and crew] knew me from the first episode I did, and when I came up for this they were all a little mad at me, I must say. (Laughs) It was all with respect to Josh and the character on the show. But yeah, it was an interesting week. You could hear the cast and crew and the people in hair and makeup talking about how different the week was, because they're used to that show being a little bit light-hearted and not taking itself too seriously, and these were moments that were definitely weird for everyone -- trying to embrace every last moment with Josh as a person and Will as a character. It was a little more somber than it typically is on Good Wife.
The moment where Jeffrey starts to break down emotionally, just before grabbing the guard's gun, was particularly tough to watch. What was the most difficult scene for you to film?
When I read the script, a part of me was like, Oh god, I got my work ahead of me. There was definitely some heavy stuff. As you saw, it read in the script as very abstract. It's not like you see him pick up the gun and shoot -- it's not spelled out, which I think is more interesting. A lot of stuff was cut, too. The scene right before I grab the gun, the way we filmed it was incredibly disconnected. It wasn't like filming a normal scene, where you tell the scene from start to finish and do it from different angles. But the most challenging and heavy part for me as an actor was putting a gun to my head and having to grapple with the downfall of what I had just done.
Will we see retribution for your character in the next episode, which I imagine fills in a lot of blanks?
That's exactly right. [In the next episode] they talk to the security guard and they talk to this person and that person. Clearly we see what Julianna [Margulies]' character, Alicia Florrick, goes through. There are a couple of moments where they say, "What the heck, kid? What did you do, and why? We were about to prove your innocence, what were you thinking?" It gets pretty tragic.
Did you watch the episode last night?
Yeah, I did. We all knew that it would be a big deal to people, but you never know how people will receive it until it airs. There's always that expectation, and it was fun to see how many people poured out love for Josh Charles and for Will Gardner and for the show in general.
I feel like everyone who's watched the show is in mourning.
Yeah, I guess so. I didn't start watching the show when it first aired, so I wasn't a part of what I think a lot of the hardcore fans are experiencing. I am now. I'm not surprised, necessarily, I'm just excited that people are voicing their sadness.
How many more episodes will you be in?
The next episode sort of wraps some things up, and then we'll see what happens in the future. One [more] for now.
What's next for you?
I'm doing an indie movie with Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart and Alec Baldwin based off of a New York Times best-seller called Still Alice. We wrap that up tomorrow.
How ready are you to be approached by angry Will fans?
(Laughs) I will say, it's an interesting dynamic to go from the kid that everyone loved from that pot show [Weeds] to fully hated. A lot of my tweets are people saying, "We really liked you Silas, but now I just don't know. I can't like you anymore. #RIPWillGardner." It's funny -- I love how invested people get, It shows how much they care.