[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Sunday's season premiere of The Good Wife. Read at your own risk.]
The Good Wife hit the ground running in its Season 6 premiere Sunday. Coming off of a stellar fifth season, the acclaimed CBS drama upped the ante once again when, moments into the episode, Cary (Matt Czuchry) was arrested and thrown in jail for allegedly aiding in the transportation of $1.3 million of heroin. Despite the best efforts of Kalinda (Archie Panjabi), Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and even recent opponent Diane (Christine Baranski), Cary remained behind bars and was even cut by a friend of VIP Florrick/Agos client, and drug kingpin, Lemond Bishop to test his loyalty. It was a stunning change of fortune for the Harvard graduate best known for his Brioni suits.
"Matt Czuchry has been an untapped talent on our show so we wanted to feature him more," co-creator and executive producer Robert King tells TVGuide.com. "It's always fun with Matt, who looks like an entitled, suburbanite upper middle class kid, to be put in situations that he's not expected to be involved in. The other thing is the show, this year, is intended to be more serialized and we wanted to see a case that wouldn't begin and end in one episode."
So what's next for Cary? And how will his life change after being in the slammer? TVGuide.com spoke with Czuchry to find out all that and more:
When did you first find out about this story line and what was your initial reaction?
Matt Czuchry: The first time I found out about the story line was when I walked into a wardrobe fitting and there was a prison uniform hanging on the rack. I said to our costume designer, "That doesn't look like a suit." ... Of course, I initially didn't know what to expect, and then I read the script and I thought, I have to get work right away to try and figure out how to make this world, this new reality believable and interesting. After I read it, I was extremely excited.
What kind of work did you do to prepare for this?
Czuchry: I didn't have much time. I watched a TV show called Lockup which documents real prisons and real prisoners. I also found a blog by a former prisoner and gathered that research. I did some things before shooting and during work and at home: I didn't eat quite as much as I normally did to feel my brain [get] a little foggy. I removed myself from talking to people as much on set and didn't call my family and friends as much as I normally do. What I was reading about often was this loneliness and this isolation... and having your dignity stripped from you. So, I tried to find ways to capture that, leaving the handcuffs on longer than I needed to feel that restriction. So, I did a lot of work to try and access Cary's head space.
This episode may be the most vulnerable we've ever seen Cary, particularly the look on his face when Kalinda comes to visit him in jail. What's going through his mind as he's having the clothes taken off his back and realizes he's not going to get out right away?
Czuchry: His dignity is stripped from him immediately, and it's an incredibly traumatic event that comes out of nowhere. He's no longer free in that instance. In that scene specifically, he doesn't know who's going to be there and he sees his great friend there showing her love and support. In times of need and trauma in all of our lives, that either brings people closer together or further apart. It's an interesting moment where Kalinda and Cary get closer.
Another big scene is when a friend of Bishop's slices Cary's hand. What was it like filming that scene?
Czuchry: I loved that scene as well. The special effects team that created that, to my knowledge, none of that is post-production. It's all done with what we did there on the day. The special effects team spent hours and hours creating a mold of my hand. For me, it was about two hours of extra work over the course of three days to pull the reality of that actual cut off. Robert did an amazing job directing that particular scene because I think in the way that Hampton [Fluker] slices me is incredibly quick, incredibly violent and the simplicity of it adds to the drama of the scene and the violence of the scene.
Going into this story line, did you feel any pressure because of the intensity of it?
Czuchry: If that had been Season 4, I would have felt that pressure but I didn't feel any pressure whatsoever. ... I just felt focused and concentrated. The Kings were putting a lot of belief in me and my performance to have this story line at the beginning of the season which made me want to deliver for them.
The episode ends with Cary still behind bars. How long is this going to go on?
Czuchry: One of the things about the first episode is how that story line affects all the characters. It's like a ripple effect for all the story lines and all the characters in Episode 1 and that's going to continue throughout the beginning of this season. He's no longer free and once you've been thought of as guilty, it's tough to go back to making people believe your innocence. This is not a story line that is going to be dropped quickly. It is going to continue to evolve over the course of the season.
How will this experience affect and change Cary, as a lawyer and as a person?
Czuchry: He's at a big firm in Chicago, so word travels fast. I think that, again, in moments of traumatic events, some people will want to get closer to you because they care about you and other people will want to get away from you because potentially of what their association could mean. That has personal and professional implications. Are clients going to want to come to Florrick/Agos because of this arrest? ... I think that in his personal life, Kalinda and Cary get closer together. That friendship grows because she's there for him. She's fighting for him.
Will Alicia stand by him going forward?
Czuchry: I love the scene in this episode with Alicia and Diane when they come to Cary. Even though all three of them are going to continue to have their disagreements at work, Alicia and Diane are both fighting for Cary.
It's very interesting that, of all people, it's Diane who is representing Cary, especially considering how Season 5 ended. Do their differences bleed into Diane's defense of Cary?
Czuchry: Diane and Cary are not getting along at work. ... It's going to continue and going to get more evolved. That juxtaposition between these two characters is going to be a really cool story line that will continue.
In the premiere, Lemond Bishop refers to Cary as "the kid." Is it safe to say that people's perceptions of him are going to change once this ordeal is over?
Czuchry: Absolutely. Once you're arrested, it's tough to go back to innocence and what other people thought of you. I think Bishop has a renewed respect for Cary because he didn't snitch. ... Cary shows his strength in that moment, so Bishop's perception of him changes from him being just a kid to, "OK, I can count on this guy as a lawyer personally and professionally." Cary's still going to be challenged in terms of what he should legally to defend himself, but at the same time not to rat out other people who may be involved in this particular case. The perception of Cary's going to change and that's one of the exciting parts about this particular story line. He's going to grow and he's going to change and the perceptions of him are going to grow and change.
The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9/8c on CBS. What did you think of the big twist?
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Watch an exclusive extended sneak peek at next week's episode: