The Good Wife is known for throwing curve balls at viewers. Case in point: While the writing seemed to be on the wall that Alicia’s husband would eventually be held accountable for his questionable actions over the years, few, if any, could have guessed who would be leading the charge.After six seasons of playing squeaky-clean small-town teacher Will Schuester on Glee, Matthew Morrison has traded the choir room for the courtroom as assistant U.S. attorney Connor Fox on the CBS legal drama in an arc beginning Sunday. The role, which comes as the series prepares to wrap this spring, marks a major departure to the dark side for Morrison, who’s fresh off a starring role in Broadway’s Finding Neverland.“I like playing a bad guy. It’s something that I think I do well, because I’m the anti-bad guy. People don’t usually see me as that,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Bad guys are more fun, just like blondes.”Ahead of his Good Wife debut, Morrison also spoke with THR about the surprising way his role came about, the real-life inspiration for ADA Fox and his own feelings about Peter’s guilt as a devoted series fan.
How did you first get approached about appearing on the show?
I had a sit-down meeting with [Robert and Michelle King], who created the show. And they were really pitching me for their show BrainDead, which is their new series that they’re coming out with. I loved the idea of it, but I couldn’t stop talking to them about The Good Wife, because I told them it’s like my favorite show. I love it so much. They were like, “Oh that’s great, but this other show…” And I was like, “Oh, that’s great, but Good Wife – what’s going to happen?!” The problem was…I was doing a Broadway show at the time. They have a lot of Broadway actors in their show, but they don’t like having too many because it’s just hard to schedule around everyone’s schedule. But I invited them to see my show; I was doing Finding Neverland at the time, and they loved it. When it got announced that I was ending the show in January, I got a call as soon as the announcement came out saying they want me to do this part on The Good Wife, and I said yes! I can’t even believe it because it’s the final season and I get to be a part of one of my favorite shows of all time, so it’s wonderful.
Glee was such an intense production. Were there any hesitations about diving into TV so soon after that and doing an arc on another hour-long series?
Not at all. I was kind of game for it, because right after that I went to do Broadway for the past year. I was really excited to come back into the TV world, and honestly, this is nothing like Glee. It would take eight hours to film a single number sometimes, whereas here, sometimes I go to work at 6 a.m. and I’m done by 9:30. (Laughs) It’s such a well-oiled machine. It’s such an amazing cast, an amazing crew. Everyone is so on top of their stuff and very professional. It’s wonderful.
When you’re coming off a role that is so well known and that you’re closely associated with, how consciously were you looking for something different from that role?
That is something I do kind of look at with every part I do. And this role is totally different. It’s a courtroom drama, so there is no hint of Will Schuester in there at all. I’m kind of playing the villain in this. I don’t consider him a villain because I think he’s a guy who really is passionate about the law and stands up for his beliefs, and he just wants to see the people who do bad things [punished], and we all know that Peter Florrick – he has had his hands in a lot of cookie jars that he probably shouldn’t have. (Laughs) So he’s doing the right thing by his own standards. But I don’t know if Good Wife fans are definitely going to agree with that.
Going after one of the leads of the show – what kind kind of fan reaction are you anticipating?
I don’t know. Me personally, as a Good Wife fan, I’m looking forward to Peter Florrick going down. He’s been a bad boy for a long time, so I think orange is going to look really good on Peter Florrick, if that’s where it ends up going.
This FBI investigation feels like the culmination of seven years of Peter’s various wrongdoings. As a fan of the show, it must add another layer to it for you.
Absolutely. I mean as a fan, the hardest thing going into work every day is remembering people’s real names. I just want to call her “Alicia” or call him “Eli”…. But I think that’s also the good thing about going into this show as a fan. I know all the interworkings of all their relationships, and I know everyone’s character so well that I know how the reactions are going to go, at least I think I do. Sometimes they surprise me. (Laughs)
Being a Broadway vet, did you know anyone on the cast already?
I’d met most of them. I’m friendly with Alan [Cumming]. I was telling – see, I want to call her Diane – Christine Baranski; I had scene with her the other day and I was reminding her of a movie that we did together a long, long time ago called Marci X. It was kind of an embarrassing movie, and she just started laughing. She was like, “Oh my God!” I definitely know Julianna [Margulies] through seeing her at parties and stuff like that, but everyone’s so welcoming. Even if I didn’t know them, they were so welcoming, with open arms. It’s a great group of people.
Let’s talk about your character. Obviously he’s going after Peter, so what are his first interactions with Peter, Eli and Alicia?
I think Eli is the big mediator between Connor and the Florricks. They went out and hired a lawyer, Mike Tascioni, so most of my scenes are with those people, but like I said, I don’t think he has any ill will against the Florricks, especially Alicia. I think he probably respects her. But he’s a tough, smart guy who won’t take a bribe, and he just wants to see the law upheld. He’s a man who’s just doing what’s right.
For any lawyer, this would be a huge case. You’re basically trying to bring down the governor. What kind of pressure is Connor under?
As a huge fan of The Good Wife, Matthew Morrison had been waiting for his chance to get in on the legal action. And as the show heads toward the end of its final season, he’s not only getting his chance, but he could end up being the man to put Peter Florrick (back) behind bars.
In Sunday’s episode, Morrison will begin his recurring role as Connor Fox, an assitant U.S. attorney known for putting a number of Illinois governors behind bars. “I think he’s going to be viewed as, especially by theGood Wife fans, as the bad guy, but I don’t think he’s a bad guy at all,” Morrison tells EW. “I think he’s a tough guy. [He’s] very smart. He won’t take a bribe. He’s passionate about the law and I think we all know Peter Florrick has his hands in a lot of different cookie jars and I think he’s going to pick up on one of them and exploit it and in his perfect world, take him down.”
Whether he’ll be successful in destroying Peter is something even Morrison doesn’t know yet, but as far as Morrison’s concerned, Connor is “going after Peter Florrick for the right reasons.” But what does that mean for Alicia?
“I think he respects her,” Morrison says of Connor’s relationship to Alicia. “I don’t think he has any ill will toward her at all, but I think she’s probably going to make things a little hard for him. He likes her at this point, but we’ll see what happens.”
Basing his character off of real-life attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, Morrison quickly felt comfortable in the courtroom setting thanks to its stage-like feel. “I like the grandness of being in a courtroom,” he says. “I feel a little in my element in the courtroom just because I’m comfortable on stage and it feels very presentational.”
And although you will see Connor outside the courtroom, his main goal is within those four walls. “He’s upholding the law and Peter Florrick has been a bad boy, so in his mind, he’s doing the right thing,” Morrison says, adding that he’d love for his Good Wife legacy to be taking down Peter. “I think orange looks good on Peter Florrick so I can’t wait to see him in it again,” he says with a laugh.
Catch Morrison as Connor Fox — or “Foxy Connor” as Julianna Margulies has taken to calling him — on The Good Wife Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.
As the grand jury against Peter Florrick is assembled, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Connor Fox (Matthew Morrison) leading the proceedings, Alicia, Eli and Peter’s lawyer, Mike Tascioni (Will Patton), attempt to discover what charges are being leveled against him. (CBS/Sunday at 10)
Matthew Morrison guest stars as Assistant U.S. Attorney Connor Fox. David M. Russel/CBS
Matthew Morrison knows firsthand the perils of joining the Good Wife cast after seven seasons as a self-described “superfan.”
“My biggest problem was trying to remember everyone’s real name,” he explains, with a chuckle. “Every time I went to talk to Julianna [Margulies], I wanted to say ‘Alicia.’”
The actor’s work as Assistant U.S. Attorney Connor Fox, however, is no laughing matter — not as he convenes a grand jury to pursue charges against Chris Noth’s Gov. Peter Florrick starting with this Sunday’s episode (9/8c on CBS).
“I think he’s a good guy. He’s a tough guy. He doesn’t take a bribe,” says Morrison, when asked to describe his character. “He’s passionate about the law, and he’s taken down a few governors in the past. Peter’s been a bad boy in the past — we all know that — and now there are some repercussions.”
Morrison promises that Sunday’s installment will definitely spell out the nature of Peter’s transgressions — but just because Connor is on the right side of the law doesn’t mean he’s expecting longtime Good Wife fans to side with the prosecutor.
“These characters are so beloved — and I’m definitely stirring the pot. I’m sure there’ll be a backlash, but that’s OK,” he says. “It’s a fun part to play. I don’t usually get to play what I guess you would call the villain — even though he does believe he’s doing good.”
To Morrison’s surprise, showrunners Robert and Michelle King told him there were no political motivations to Connor’s character — which is one of the reasons Morrison fashioned him after a real-life U.S. Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, who brought down Illinois Governors Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan.
That said, Morrison’s initial episodes will mainly feature him going toe-to-toe with Alan Cumming’s Eli Gold (aka Peter’s campaign guru); he’s only begun filming with Noth this week. “Connor doesn’t really go along with Eli’s bullishness and his craziness. I just laugh it off a little,” the actor teases.
Asked about a promo photo released by CBS — and whether we’re to assume Eli and Alicia are eavesdropping on Connor through a courtroom bathroom vent — Morrison responds with a hearty chuckle. “If you think that, you should go buy a lottery ticket now,” he says. “You have good intuition!”
That scene in particular underscores how “other people will try to out-maneuever Connor,” Morrison says, adding that in the scripts he’s seen, there haven’t been any core characters or ghosts of Good Wife past who’ve turned against the Governor. “None of the main tribe joins Connor’s corner,” he says, laughing. “But there are some extras on the show that I’m really friendly with!”
And while Morrison adds that he hasn’t seen any sign of his “pretty badass” character having an Achilles’ heel, there’s still time for him to stumble. While hisGood Wife gig was initially slated to last four episodes, “it looks like I’m going to be around through the very end,” Morrison shares. “They asked about [availability] for [shooting] the final episode.”
Matthew Morrison is here to (potentially) ruin everything for the Florricks. The Gleestar joins The Good Wife on Sunday, March 6 in the new role of Assistant US Attorney Connor Fox and he’s got his sights set on taking down Peter Florrick (Chris Noth). AUSA Connor Fox is leading the grand jury proceedings against the governor, so he’s sure going to make things difficult for Peter, Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Eli (Alan Cumming).
Morrison makes his debut in “Hearing.” Check out the exclusive first photo above. “I’m ecstatic to be playing a role on my favorite show on TV,” he tweeted after his role was announced in January.
In the episode, Alicia, Eli and Peter’s lawyer Mike Tascioni (Will Patton), the ex-husband of Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston), attempt to discover what charges are being leveled against Peter. Viewers know it has something to do with one of his donors, possibly, but likely not his vote rigging for Alicia. Meanwhile, Alicia attempt to have a quiet weekend with Jason (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), but her mom and brother make things very difficult. Stockard Channing returns as Veronica andDallas Roberts as Owen. Margo Martindale returns as Ruth Eastman and John Magaro is back as FBI agent Roland Hlavin.