Josh Charles Opens Up About His Departure From 'The Good Wife' And His Character's Violent End
Josh Charles played Will Gardner on The Good Wife for almost five years, and the actor is opening up about his decision to leave the show and what he thought of his violent send-off.
Josh Charles Talks About Will Gardner's Death
Sunday night, The Good Wife shocked fans by killing off one of the principal characters and one of the most beloved characters on the show, Will Gardner. In a truly unpredictable turn of events, Will was shot dead in a courtroom after his distressed client, a young man accused of murder, grabbed a gun and started shooting frantically.
“I know people will be shocked and some fans will be upset, and maybe even angry, and I can take the hit on that one. If they’re going to blame anybody, they can blame me,” Charles told TV Line on Monday.
Now that the cat’s out of the bag, Charles has stepped up to take the brunt of fans’ outrage over the demise of their favorite character, reaching out on Twitter and through various interviews to thank fans for their support.
Sending out all my love to #TheGoodWife fans! Playing Will Gardner was an honor and a pleasure. Thanks for all of your support & kind words!
— Josh Charles (@MrJoshCharles) March 24, 2014
I have the best fans ever. I love you all and, aside from a few cray crays, have been blown away by your sincere and thoughtful tweets.
— Josh Charles (@MrJoshCharles) March 25, 2014
During a recent appearance on Late Show with David Letterman, Charles spoke to his fans, joking, “Everything’s going to be okay. I’ll call your mom later.”
In all seriousness, Charles has revealed that it was, indeed, his choice to part ways with the successful drama. Charles says he chose to leave the offices of Lockhart/Gardner simply because he felt it was time, not because of some off-screen drama.
“It wasn’t anything bad. Creatively, I was just ready to move on to the next chapter,” Charles explained.
Charles decided to leave The Good Wife after season 4, when his contract was up, and, after speaking at length with co-star and friend Julianna Margulies and showrunners Robert and Michelle King, agreed to sign a 15-episode contract for season 5 in an effort to give Will Gardner a proper send off.
“Where Julianna was really helpful was in coming up with the idea of doing maybe a little bit more than just a few episodes this season, and that’s where I came up with the number 15. It got stuck in my head; it sounded like the right amount. And that allowed everybody to plan for it and build accordingly. She was very instrumental in that. And, also, in talking to Robert and Michelle about where we were going this year, it sounded very exciting – for the show and for my character,” Charles recounted.
As for the decision to kill off his character, Charles says he was all for it.
Robert And Michelle King Letter To The Fans
What is perhaps more shocking than the character death itself is the fact that the creative minds behind the show were able to keep Charles’ exit a secret for a whole year, ensuring that Will Gardner’s death would go down in history as one of the most shocking deaths on television. The death was so surprising, Robert and Michelle King released a letter to the fans following the episode, explaining their decision to kill Will instead of simply making his character move or change jobs to write him out of the show.
“We could ‘send him off to Seattle,’ he could be disbarred, or get married, or go off to Borneo to do good works. But there was something in the passion that Will and Alicia shared that made distance a meager hurdle. The brutal honesty and reality of death speaks to the truth and tragedy of bad timing for these two characters. Will’s death propels Alicia into her newest incarnation,” they wrote, reaffirming that the show’s core has always been Alicia’s transformation.
Robert and Michelle King insist that the tragic death, a first for The Good Wife, will change every aspect of the show as it changes Alicia and every other character. The rest of the season will focus on the fallout from Will’s violent death.
In the letter, the producing duo also tease viewers that the best is yet to come, writing, “We’ve always taken as a guiding principle of this show that drama isn’t in the event; it’s in the aftermath of the event. We think you’ll find that true of this episode.”
Next week’s episode will also feature flashbacks including both Will and Alicia, so rest assured, fans have not seen the last of Charles on The Good Wife. In fact, the upcoming episode will feature Charles’ very last performance as Will Gardner.
“Let’s just say that there was a phone-call moment that I had [which was] the last piece of real acting that I did on the show, and that was a very emotional moment for me. I think we did about five or six takes. And as each take progressed, I found myself getting more and more emotional, because I realized this is the last time I’d be talking as this character,” Charles said of filming next week’s episode, aptly titled “The Last Call."
The Good Wife “The Last Call” will air Sunday, March 30 at 9 p.m. on CBS.
– Olivia Truffaut-Wong
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