Q&A with Josh Charles
He later starred in Threesome and formed a following on the ABC sitcom Sports Night. Now, Josh is back on primetime television starring alongside Juliana Margulies and Chris Noth in the drama The Good Wife. Josh talks about the new show, his acting career and his newfound love of cooking.
Erin White: Greetings from Chicago
Josh Charles: I love Chicago!
EW: You'll have to come and catch an Oprah Show sometime.
JC: Oprah was my local newscaster growing up, so I grew up watching Oprah before she became "Oprah." She was my local newscaster on channel 13 in Baltimore. I watched her and Richard Shar on [the talk show] People Are Talking.
EW: So, you grew up in Baltimore. Do you get home often?
JC: I spent some time in L.A., but I'm back in New York full time now, and when I'm in New York it is so much easier to hop on the train. I go back a lot to see my family in the summer or go see some football games in the winter; it is great, I love it.
EW: New York is where your new TV show The Good Wife is being filmed, is that right?
JC: Yes, The Good Wife is being filmed here in New York, even though [the TV show] takes place in Chicago.
EW: Tell me about the show; it has a great cast—Juliana Margulies, Chris Noth and you.
JC: The opportunity came to me to be able to do a show with those people you just mentioned, and Christine Baranski and Archie Panjabi, and it is a great group of actors that they assembled. It's also shooting here in the city where I live. I just thought the pilot was well-written by the Kings—Robert and Michelle— who created it. It feels very timely, and it feels like it is the kind of show that if we keep building on it, it can be really fun to do.
EW: The Good Wife is ripped from the headlines. It focuses on a political sex scandal and a politician who goes to jail and his wife, who stands by his side. How do you think people will react to the show?
JC: We see so many pictures of these wives of the politicians who are caught up in the illicit affairs, and people always wonder as bystanders watching these women: "What is going through their heads? What is that life like when the cameras are off? How do they make their lives work?" It is such a public embarrassment when that happens to you. So, I think that it is something we are all fascinated by, and I think the show is really trying to explore it.
EW: What can you tell me about your character Will? How does he fit into the plot?
JC: Will and Alicia [played by Juliana Margulies] are very close and went to Georgetown Law School together, and there is a real history there and that is a big part of obviously why she is coming to this firm. Will is an incredibly successful lawyer in Chicago; I think he is really good at what he does. I think he really enjoys living his life. He is methodical, he is loyal, he strikes me as someone who takes what he does very seriously but also tries to have a good time. He likes the Cubs, not the White Sox (laughs). He's a huge Bears fan, and I think he has a secret shrine to Michael Jordon in his living room but no one knows about it (laughs). When you work on a character, they always have to have secrets, you know?
EW: Many people remember you from your breakout role in Dead Poets Society. What is it about acting that had you hooked from such a young age?
JC: I've always loved it. I had some theater experiences that my parents took me to when I was a kid, and I always loved comedy. I loved Richard Pryor. I was obsessed with Richard Pryor when I was a kid; I was always trying to intimate him. But I loved playing characters and loved the experience of going to the movies and going to the theater. I just got the bug at a really early age.
EW: Which do you like more, acting onstage or in front of the camera?
JC: I enjoy all of it. I just enjoy acting. It is really less about the medium and more about the experience of the people you are working with. I love performing in front of a live audience. I love the process of doing a play and the time that you are able to work on a character that usually with film and television—just by the nature of how fast it moves—you don't have the luxury of having that time to sit with a character to rehearse it to really spend that month digging into it. That is a real fun part of the process for me.
But I love the idea of working in film; I love the film medium and the visual medium. Right now I think some of the best writing is coming out of television, and I don't think it used to be that way, but right now I think that is the case.
EW: You have some new movies coming out, including one with Liam Neeson and Christina Ricci.
JC: Yeah, it is a little indie film I did called After Life . There is another one called Brief Interviews with Hideous Men that John Krasinski [ The Office ] just directed, that comes out this fall. And I just finished up another little indie called Weakness with Bobby Cannavale, who is an old friend. So, it is fun to bop around and it is fun to do it all. I'm just looking for interesting projects that drive me.
EW: You also have a birthday coming up September 15.
JC: I guess so (laughs). I'm not a big birthday party guy, but we will definitely do a dinner. I'm not sure if I want to have a dinner in my apartment and cook for people or go out to a restaurant. I have some friends who are chefs, and I'm cooking a lot more. I'm obsessed with Italy and love Italian food, and I'm trying to cook a lot of pastas, chicken, fish and stuff like that. It's fun.
EW: What is your favorite thing in your kitchen?
JC: My Mario Batali panini press. I totally love that thing and use it all the time; I cook sandwiches on it and vegetables. I like Mario, he is a buddy. He has been a big part of helping me get excited about cooking and learning how to cook. Just watching how much he enjoys it and how much he loves taking care of people and being a master at what he does, it is fun and inspiring to watch. I love being around people who love what they do and love living their life.