When accused wife-killer Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker) turned up in The Good Wife's first season, it was loathe at first sight. Sweeney knew exactly which of then-first year associate Alicia Florrick's (Julianna Margulies) buttons to push, and since then the writers have used the twisted relationship to set up some of the show's best shows. Sweeney returns for the March 31 episode, which sees the domestic bliss he's found with former employee Isobel (Morena Baccarin) and their son threatened by the Supreme Court. Baker called up TV Guide Magazine from the Anchorman 2 set in Atlanta ("I haven't ruined any takes yet by laughing, but it's early days," he admitted) to talk about the return of everyone's favorite slimy — or "uncomplicatedly, refreshingly open," as Baker puts it — Lockhart/Gardner client.
TV Guide Magazine: Had you been a fan of the show before getting to play the character or did you see a script and go, "Oh, yes"?
Dylan Baker: I actually went to grad school with Chris Noth; I saw he was doing the show, so I started watching it from the beginning and was pretty much hooked. So when they asked me to do something in it I was like, "Yeah, sure, that sounds great," and when I read the character I went, "Wow. This is cool." At that point it was a lot of turtlenecks, and I was like, "What is the deal with the turtlenecks?" [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: Did you say, "Can we maybe dial that back?"
Baker: Well, it did graduate into three-piece suits, maybe as he became more serious.
TV Guide Magazine: Did you know when you first took the role that it was going to be a recurring character?
Baker: No! I was shocked when they wrote a second episode, to tell you the truth. And then I went, "Oh, okay, I'm in jail, I guess that's it, that's the end of Sweeney." And sure enough, all of a sudden there was more to it. I'm going to appear in the last episode of the season, too. That was the other thing I liked, that they're exploring in these episodes: It's not just Alicia that Sweeney starts getting interested in. What's going on with Will? What's going on with Diane? What's going on with Cary? It just doesn't stop. He's an equal-opportunity annoyer. Any time any of these people say, "Well, I know Sweeney's difficult, so I'm gonna approach it this way," they inevitably get into a situation where they go, "Uh oh. He's got me." And that's really fun. There are so many other characters for me to annoy!
TV Guide Magazine: Last we saw of Mr. Sweeney, he'd become sort of a family man.
Baker: This episode has a lot to do with, "Are we going to take the next step? Are we going to actually get married?" And luckily the writers also like writing for Morena. She is definitely up to any forays into the... romance. [Laughs] Isobel will say exactly what's on her mind, and I think that's what appeals to Sweeney.
TV Guide Magazine: Has Sweeney changed at all, now that he has a son?
Baker: Uh, let's see.... That'll take some time... No, not at all. [Laughs] I would love to see the episode where we really go into how we're raising the son, his problems and his advantages.
TV Guide Magazine: In the preview, Isobel is clearly worried Sweeney's going to murder her. Does she have reason to be afraid?
Baker: I just can't believe anybody would think that would happen! I don't understand how these bad rumors get started! [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: I imagine one of the fun things about the show is that you don't just get to play with the regulars, there are all the other guest stars. Your first appearance was also the first taste we got of Mamie Gummer's Nancy Crozier, who is just a fantastic character.
Baker: Oh yeah! That was the first time we saw that lawyer and that schtick, if you don't mind that term — Sweeney would certainly call it that — of the way she presented her case. Mamie's just an amazing actress.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you have a favorite judge or opposing counsel to play off of?
Baker: Oooh. I've had a few different ones, but I have to say Peter Gerety. He's an old friend. The first thing I ever did was a thing called A Case of Deadly Force with Richard Crenna, and Peter Gerety played this reporter that sort of uncovered this case that was going on and I've known him ever since. That was back in '86. So we always enjoy getting to spend a little time together.
TV Guide Magazine: It's easy to see why Sweeney loves Alicia, but why do you think it is she's come to care about him in some weird way?
Baker: Well it's very interesting. The writers, who I think are some of the best in the business, do seem to love Colin Sweeney. They love writing about him, they love putting him into situations where anybody else would say, "Okay, now we really have to get serious," and he just can't. He enjoys the passion, he enjoys the intrigue, and he enjoys flip-flopping what people think has to happen with the way that he wants it to go.
The neat thing about Julianna's character is that Alicia has been let in on different sides of Sweeney that a lot of people don't see, because he keeps up a pretty strong front of nonchalance. She's one of the few people who's seen that he does have his moments of vulnerability. I think that's endearing to her. She has been caught out a couple times, people looking at her like, "What, do you care?" It's really daring of the writers to try and put a character out there who's so dastardly but also has a different side. But I also love that there are those moments where he just turns on her and says, "You have to be better," you know? "You're not representing me well enough!" And she just turns and says, "Oh great! You need another lawyer? I can send a dozen."
TV Guide Magazine: Alicia is definitely much more in "I'm not having any of your crap" mode this season, especially now that she's an equity partner. Does that change their dynamic?
Baker: I think it does. She's certainly less easy to shock. She has seen so much, and experienced so much from Sweeney, and from everything else she's been through. She is definitely much more sophisticated in terms of what you can try and throw at her. But I love the way she's opening up, and I love the fact that her marriage is still there and still a part of her life. It's a fascinating show.
The Good Wife airs Sundays, 9/8c, on CBS.