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Fans of The Good Wife are sad to be saying goodbye to the show come May, but star Chris Noth feels more grateful than anything else. He’s just happy he made it this far.
“I didn’t think I was going to last more than two years,” Noth tells The Hollywood Reporter.
“I just thought, ‘It’s really about her journey as a single woman becoming independent and running a law firm,’ but they’ve managed to remain together. It’s been quite an intrepid relationship so I’ve gladly stayed for as long as it lasted. It’s provided me with a really interesting seven years.”
And what a ride it’s been. After the series started out with the slap heard round the world — “my ears are still ringing,” Noth jokes — the marriage between Noth’s Peter and Alicia (Julianna Margulies) has been one of the most complex unions on television.
“There’s an acceptance that it could end at any moment and that they’ve gone as far as they can go, at least they think that,” he says. “The road has been long and hard on them and I think there’s an acceptance that they might have outgrown the marriage, but we’ll see.”
First broken by Peter’s sex scandal that kicked off the series, and spawned that slap, their marriage has since endured Peter’s brief time in prison, his previous dalliance with Kalinda (Archie Panjabi), and Alicia’s relationship with Will (Josh Charles), among their other underlying issues. However, they also reconciled several times over the course of the series as well – making it hard to ever know where the two really stand.
“We’re dealing with infidelity a lot in this relationship and what it means and what it means for the marriage and what marriage a means and its constantly shifting and its constantly changing. Then there’s forgiveness and then there’s regret and then there’s vengeance,” he says. “It’s never one thing.”
Despite their fluctuating feelings for one another, their marriage has remained intact, legally, since the beginning of the series. One reason is for the sake of their children and the other being for each of their professional gain. For Peter, that meant having his wife by his side for speeches and photo-ops and for Alicia, that meant using being the wife of the State’s Attorney and, later, the Governor, to attract clients.
“Their personal lives are so intertwined, their work lives and his political life, that there’s almost no boundaries. Because they know each other so well, because they’ve been together so long and been through so much, when it gets bad, it gets really bad,” the actor says. “There’s a lot of scars but that binds them even closer in a strange way. I wouldn’t be surprised if they stay together. I don’t know if they will. But their intimacy goes so far, they know each other so well that when there’s a fight, they just let it out.”
The sparks will fly in Sunday’s episode when Peter, in the midst of the grand jury proceedings against him, discovers Alicia and her lover, Jason (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) together at her apartment. Suffice it to say, it leads to an “intense” conversation between husband and wife about their future.
“It brings up very primal feelings, let’s just put it that way,” Noth says. “It appears that they come to the end of the line with their relationship in that fight. You feel like there’s nowhere else for them to go but I think they’ve been there before. They always teeter on the edge.”
Peter is also teetering on the edge because of the possible charges against him, and the possibly of having to go back to prison. “It was a horrific experience for him and he was exonerated basically but that experience is something he doesn’t want to repeat,” Noth says. “He’s going to use every skill he has to fight this. It’s just another crisis but I think he lives in crisis.”
After all, Noth points out it’s hard to think of a time during The Good Wife’s seven-season run when Peter wasn’t in hot water. “He’s always been under fire. Can you think of a year when he’s not been under fire? I can’t,” he says.
But the actor, who earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in 2011, wouldn’t have it any other way. “I wasn’t looking to go into a network, but the idea of a disgraced politician was really appealing,” Noth says. “I had no idea where it was going to go, but I knew it was in the political world and the political world holds a lot a dirty secrets and I thought it might be fun to jump onboard and see where it goes. I think that [creators Robert and Michelle King] have done a very clever and skillful job of telling the political stories without really having the time they need to do it full-blown.”
Since the political stories were only one part of the narrative, Noth was never a full-time series regular on The Good Wife, leaving him time to do plays and indie films, including the upcoming White Girl and Chronically Metropolitan. “I have a tremendous amount of freedom to do other things while I’m doing this,” he says. “It’s been nice to have it always here to come back to and go on the journey.”
Although he admits he was a “little surprised” by the decision to end the series with current seventh season, it’s one he is embracing, particularly since the Kings were set to step down as showrunners at the end of this season.
“I think everyone was glad that it was book-ended in seven years, that they accomplished what they thought the show was going to be,” says Noth, pointing to his first TV role. “Law & Order lasted 20 years, but I noticed that it did the same 10 stories over and over. So not having to do that is a good idea.”
It also helps that Noth already has his next gig lined up: A series regular role on the third season of the FX drama Tyrant. “From what I’ve seen, it’s a really brave show in terms of the subject matter and I’m very excited about it,” Noth says. “The only thing that’s hard for me is being so far away from my family but they’re coming over for some time over there in Budapest. Its 10 episodes and out so its finite amount of time.”
Beyond that, it remains to be seen. But as his long-running gig on The Good Wife has proven, sometimes the best plan is to not plan at all. “I used to try to plan things out to a dotted i earlier in my career and I found that that doesn’t really work,” Noth says. “You never know what’s going to come up.”
The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on CBS.
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