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Jeffrey Dean Morgan joins The Good Wife this Sunday as the new resident investigator. And just like his character, Jason Crouse, Morgan is going to have to do some digging to get to the bottom of his alter ego.
“I have enough information that every week when I get a new script, a couple more hints are thrown out and I’ve just got to run with it and put my own spin on what I see on the page,” Morgan tells The Hollywood Reporter. “When you’re working with actors like Julianna [Margulies] and Christine Baranski — there are some f—ing great actors on this show — you can’t really screw it up too bad. The writing is there and the acting is there. I show up and do my job and we’ll figure out Jason as we go.”
After stints on Grey’s Anatomy, Supernatural, Magic City and most recently another CBS hour-long drama, Extant, Morgan comes to The Good Wife as one of two new series regulars added following the departures of Archie Panjabi and Matthew Goode. While it’s already been made clear the other new addition, Cush Jumbo, is being groomed as Alicia’s new drinking buddy, it’s slightly less clear what role Morgan will ultimately serve.
Morgan spoke with THR about Jason’s “attraction” to Alicia, his unapologetic tactics and how his mother influenced his decision to join the show.
How did the role come about?
I got a call one day from my agent who just said, “You’ve been offered something on The Good Wife and [creators Robert and Michelle King] would like to speak to you.” I think I was at the end of shooting Extant. I had never watched The Good Wife before, believe it or not. I had heard it was a great show and I’ve known Julianna for a while but I’d never seen it. So I got on the phone with them and they told me what they were thinking of as far as the character. I mulled it over for a while and called them back and said, “Sure, let’s do it.”
Did you watch the show at some point or at least a few episodes?
During the mulling period, I just randomly went onto Amazon Prime and I picked some episodes from season five and I ended up watching all of season five. I thought it was exceptional and it was also my mother’s favorite show. I remember I texted my mom and I said, “Well, what is it about The Good Wife in your opinion that makes it such a great show?” She had a really great answer. She was talking about character development — and my mom’s not a TV person — she said it has the best-written female roles that she’s ever seen and after watching it, I concurred with her. Actually, I got an email from Julianna saying, “We haven’t heard from you. What do you think? If you want to move on and not do it, I understand, but it sure would be great having you.” I remember I was on the set shooting Extant and just wrote her back and said, “I’m in. Tell everybody I’m in and I’ll see you soon.” Literally, I wrapped Extant and came straight to New York and starting shooting this thing.
How has it been juggling that schedule and doing back-to-back hour-long dramas? That can’t be an easy workload.
It’s been not the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life but I’ve been working solid for so long, it feels like the last two years have been one project to another. Between Texas Rising and the Marilyn Monroe thing I squeezed in the middle and then Extant, it’s been solid work. I had maybe a week or two off in there somewhere. But it’s been good. The great thing about this show is that it’s in New York and I have a farm and live up in upstate New York. Right now, I’m on my farm. I worked yesterday morning and caught a train home and I’m here doing work at the farm. And I’ll head back in tomorrow, but it’s been really nice and I’ve got a little boy in kindergarten so I get to be a part of that this year so that’s been awesome. … I feel like I’m getting a chance to do some good work on a great show with some great writers and great actors and I get to be home and not miss too much of what’s going on here with [partner] Hilarie [Burton] and [son] Gus so it’s been kind of perfect.
Like you said, The Good Wife has been on for several years. Was that a concern of coming into a show that’s been around for a long time?
Absolutely. I did think about it. I’ve never done anything quite like that before. The longest that I waited to get onto a show ever is maybe Grey’s Anatomy, and I came in the second season. I came in relatively fast on that, but this, they’ve done 140 episodes without me so it was not only a well-oiled machine, but this is a tight group of people that have been together for a long time. Sometimes it can be a little bit awkward coming into that kind of situation, but that being said, I now feel like I’ve been there forever and everybody has been very cool and welcoming and nothing but generous. Those fears were quickly alleviated by just how great this cast and crew producers are.
And if you already knew Julianna socially, it must be interesting work with them everyday and see that side of them.
I know Julianna from upstate living. Seeing her and her family on weekends and holidays up here for the last 10 years or so. I’ve always known she was a great actor. I remember watching her on ER. … It’s fun watching someone you know outside of a set and doing a scene, getting to watch them do that and see them do their craft. She’s a pro. She brings it every second of every day so I’ve got to be on my toes so I like that. I like that a lot.
When you were talking with the Kings, what was it about the role of Jason specifically that appealed to you?
Well, I think they were still working out what they thought. We’re still trying to figure out exactly who this guy is. They may know better than me. But their pitch to me was, they’ve never had really just a dangerous, grungy guy. (Laughs.) Someone with a little bit of a dirtier edge to him, so they thought mixing that with Alicia Florrick and Julianna’s character would be something interesting and new for the show. What they told me and what we initially talked about was a guy who’s an ex-lawyer and he got into some trouble and has been disbarred and now he becomes an investigator so he knows a little bit about both sides of everything. I thought that sales pitch — and they were much better at selling it than I am right now — I thought that it was a good opportunity for me and for the show to do something a little bit different with a different dynamic. That was it. When you’ve got a show with such a proven track record, it makes the decision a lot easier than it does on a lot of other things that are floating around out there. These guys, they know what they’re doing and they were excited about the role and I was overtaken by their excitement, I think. I’m glad I was. I’m glad I’m doing it. It’s been a blast.
As you said, Jason is a very different character than we’ve seen Alicia interact with before. What can you say about their dynamic?
There is definitely an attraction. I know people have been very curious about that attraction and where it will go, but beyond that attraction, their relationship, whatever it is now, is a tricky one. It’s going to be tested. I’m not even talking about the fact that she’s married and all that. Their working relationship and their friendship is being tested. It’s just a little bit, I think from her point of view, she doesn’t know what to expect from Jason, and a little bit of vice-versa. They’re testing each other and prodding each other and trying to figure out one another while working together and being a little bit attracted to each other, so it’s very interesting. How Julianna is as an actor — getting to play with someone of that caliber, you never quite know exactly what’s going to come out. I find it very interesting to see the nuances of this relationship and how it’s being played. It’s just much different than any situation Alicia has found herself in in the last seven years as far as a guy. Throw in the fact that they’re working together — it’s a tricky situation, as most relationships are. It’s just a little trickier than usual.
We know they’re working together but how quickly do they start to form a friendship?
Right away. You know that there’s an attraction in this episode that’s coming up. You can tell that there’s a little bit of a flirtation within ten seconds of me walking through the door. That being said, we are on episode eight and it’s got some twists and turns along the way that the audience — like Julianna and I — will not have expected. I don’t know where it’s going to go. I really don’t know what these writers have in store for me which, by the way, I love. Before I started working on the job after I had taken it, I figured, ‘OK, this is going to be the new love interest and we’ll see where and how soon we get to that.’ But with the twists and turns that these great writers have given us so far, there’s not a lot I’m going to be able to tell you at this point other than that it’s going to be fascinating to watch.
There was a lot of speculation about your character being her new love interest. What was it like jumping into this role knowing the show has such a loyal fan base and people would be paying such close attention to this relationship?
I think it’s like any job. I have high expectations for myself and for everybody on the show. The difference is that I’m coming into a show that’s been around for seven years and it’s got a well-established fan base and high expectations from the people that watch it. My only thing is to not let anybody down, especially my mother (Laughs.) That being said, I can’t tell her what’s going on. I just say, “Tune in on Sundays, Mom.” Those expectations that the fans have and what they’ve come to expect out of The Good Wife for the last seven years, I think that this season, with the new characters that they have this year, is going to add something new to the show and the quality is going to be as high as ever before. Nobody’s going to be disappointed.
The show had a very well known investigator before who had a very specific style about how she got information and how she helped with cases. What can you say about Jason’s style as an investigator?
I remember when we first were talking about this character, the Kings had said to me, “You’ve got this laid-back approach to everything.” What I’ll say is he seemingly has a laid-back approach, but this is also a guy that is not afraid to throw somebody against the wall to get the information that he needs to get. I don’t want to say he’s a loose cannon, but he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, which is a new deal for this show. Again, not having watched and not knowing a ton about past characters that have come before me, I can only say that Jason has his own singular way of doing things. There’s not a lot of rules for this guy as far as what he’ll do to get the information that he needs. That in itself is kind of an interesting thing for Alicia, especially, to have to figure out and maybe or maybe not control.
I’m also curious to see how he influences her. She could maybe stand to be more laid back.
We’ll see. We’re both figuring out this relationship as we go, and that it is going to be a new layer for Alicia and they’re both going to learn from each other. They’re both going to take some leads from each other, at least thus far. Like I said, the way these writers work is a little bit unpredictable so it could take a turn tomorrow, I don’t know. But Jason is may be opening Alicia’s eyes to some stuff that maybe she hasn’t seen before.
The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on CBS.
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