The cast of The Good Wife has Shakespeare on the brain. Granted, the playwright may not seem like an obvious influence on the hit CBS drama, which deals with such thoroughly modern issues as the destructive power of media and the Internet. But as the show charges through its sophomore season, it's exhibiting many of his hallmarks, complete with star-crossed lovers and a purloined letter. (Or make that voice mail.)
"It's a tragic situation. It's Romeo and Juliet!" says a delighted Josh Charles, whose Will Gardner has spent the early part of Season 2 reeling from having his declaration of devotion to Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) — old law school pal, current employee and married object of his desire — rebuffed...or so he thinks. "Like with Romeo and Juliet, our audience knows there was miscommunication between Alicia and Will after a third party stepped in," says Margulies, referencing that game-changing moment when Eli Gold, Peter Florrick's campaign manager, played with lip-smacking shamelessness by Alan Cumming, deleted the message. "But our characters don't."
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That's exactly what's making the series so doggone juicy. The fallout from the apparent rejection is affecting all involved — and it was on full display during the October 26 episode when Will, Alicia and her still contrite husband, Peter (Chris Noth), awkwardly shared a table at a fund-raising gala. You could practically feel Alicia flinching every time she spied Will interacting with his date, fetching sportswriter Tammy, played by new addition Elizabeth Reaser. "She sort of turns the love triangle into a rectangle," says executive producer Robert King. "Alicia is jealous and possessive, even though she knows she has no claims on Will. She had made him finally think about commitment and a serious relationship, but she's not getting the result — Tammy is."
Alicia has good reason to worry about Will moving on. "He really put his feelings on the line for Alicia, and since he got no response, he's left to assume that she doesn't feel the same way, and he retreats," says Charles. Plus, his rebound gal shares his dry sense of humor and passion for athletics. "Alicia likes Tammy," says Margulies. "In a weird way, that could lessen the burden of her feelings for Will. But it could go the opposite way and make it worse, if the relationship keeps going."
Make that when the relationship keeps going — Reaser is slated to appear in at least four episodes. "Tammy is a complex, interesting choice for Will," says Charles. "She's not a pawn to make Alicia jealous. That's too simple for this show." (As for Tammy's complaint that Will is no fun because he's in love with someone else, i.e., Alicia? We'll see how long that lasts.)
With Will and Tammy's section of the rectangle getting steamier, Alicia will be forced into action as well. "Because she feels slighted by Will," says Margulies, "she is trying to make it work with her husband. They work really well together." Whenever the pair partner up — whether to perfect a speech or defeat a political opponent — it functions as a kind of foreplay for the strained couple. "There's an exciting new angle to their marriage, but she's going to be cautious for a long while," says Margulies. "He loves her and will do anything to get back in her good graces. She's not in love with him now."
While it's clear that they are creeping slowly closer, Noth's take is a bit different. "Peter's still in the maid's room," he says. "He loves her, but it's entwined with his need for her to be there for him as he tries to resurrect his political life. I'd say the stitches are out, but the wound is still healing."
For more with the cast of The Good Wife, pick up this week's issue of TV Guide Magazine, on newsstands Thursday, October 28!