The Good Wife’s Alan Cumming on Eli’s Eventful Year

Jeff Neumann/CBS
Jeff Neumann/CBS

One of the biggest breakups ever to happen during the seven seasons of The Good Wife happened this year when Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) fired his campaign manager Eli Gold (Alan Cumming) in favor of political strategist Ruth Eastman (Margo Martindale). Eli hasn’t taken his firing laying down and has spent the subsequent weeks scheming to get his revenge and bring down Peter, all the while working as Alicia’s (Julianna Margulies) Chief of Staff.

Yes, in many ways this season has been a highlight reel week in and week out for Cumming’s Eli and the actor recently joined reporters on a conference call to speak about his busy season and his plans for the future. Here are some of the highlights.

He almost didn’t come back this year … but is certainly glad he did!

“Actually, I said to everybody that I thought I was going to leave after last season, got a little bored just doing the same thing again and again with Eli,” Cumming explained. But the writers at The Good Wife responded, as he recalled that “they really stepped up to the plate and gave me lots of interesting things to do. I’m really glad I stayed.” Cumming also hinted that Eli may just be getting started as he previewed that “there’s a huge, big revelation coming up that kind of changes the story for everyone. It’s really juicy.”

Regardless, Cumming is definitely a fan of the character he’s spent six seasons playing. “I’m very, very fond of him. He’s a hot mess, but I like him. He’s got a good heart,” Cumming said before joking that “he’s not so bad. He could do with a bit of meditation and some yoga, but he’s actually not a bad person.”

Eli’s strange relationship with The Florricks

When asked how he’d describe Eli’s relationship with the Florricks, Cumming joked that it’s “dysfunctional and unhealthy.” However, he then noted that “the thing that I’ve really liked about this season is that everyone admits that they’re using each other.” “I quite like that it’s getting darker, but everyone’s being more honest,” said Cumming.

Michael Parmelee/CBS
Michael Parmelee/CBS

Eli’s relationship with Vanessa Williams

Vanessa Williams will soon be joining the cast as Courtney Boalt, a millionaire CEO who is backing Peter’s campaign and will serve as a love interest for Eli. It’s one that could be a bit troublesome for him in that it’s “definitely a conflict. Eli is being kind of hypocritical in this storyline because he’s doing something that he’d be very upset if the candidate or the candidate’s wife did. But he can’t help himself, he kind of falls for her,” revealed Cumming. Being that it is a relationship for Eli, don’t expect things to be traditional. Cumming said that “he talks quite a lot about the fact that she’s so rich. She’s definitely the more dominant person in terms of the way Eli thinks of a relationship. She’s the big mogul so it’s kind of interesting for him to be in that situation of not being the one who’s completely in control.”

Has Eli met his match?

“It’s more that he’s met someone outside of his normal sphere and she’s a much more together and powerful person,” explained Cumming when asked about Courtney. This relationship is a side of Eli that Cumming very much looks forward to playing since he admitted to finding it “quite weird to play someone who has so little intimacy in his life.” Being in a relationship may also change Eli in some other ways as Cumming said Eli does “soften a little bit this year.”

Expect more duels with Ruth

“I love Margo, she’s just hilarious,” said Cumming and having her around to argue with has been one of the highlights for the actor and viewers alike. “It’s such fun to have someone to spar with, someone like that on a regular basis,” he said. He credits a lot of that fun to Martindale, saying that she’s “really so brilliant and such a kind, fun person. We laugh a lot.” Cumming definitely conceded that in this arena Eli has “sort of met his match and I love the way they are always dueling with each other.”

He’s against an Eli-centric spinoff

When asked whether or not an Eli Gold spinoff would work, Cumming admitted to not being a fan of the idea. “I think the reason he [Eli] works well is because he’s in that structure where he’s always battling against people in a certain structure,” said Cumming. “There’s a thing with television where people always want more, more, more. I don’t think it would actually work if Eli had his own show,” he said.

Michael Parmelee/CBS
Michael Parmelee/CBS

He’s out after this year

The future of The Good Wife, and whether or not this will be its last year, is still up in the air, according to Cumming who said “I think we’re at one of these points where we’re not quite sure what’s going to happen, if it’s the last one.” Regardless of the show’s future, Cumming is pretty certain about his own. “I plan to leave at the end of the season, so whether that’s the end of the show or whether it carries on without me, I really don’t know,” he said. “I really, really, really enjoyed it and I’m really glad this season has been so exciting for me and for Eli,” he enthused.

How Eli Gold has changed his career path

“When I first started doing this everyone was like ‘What? Why is Alan Cumming playing that part?’” the actor recalled. “I’ve never played people like him, I never played that many humans. I’ve played these crazy creatures,” Cumming said. But now “in a funny way I’ve kind of grown up a bit,” he said which means that “people will take me seriously as a businessman in a suit.”

Are you enjoying Eli this season on The Good Wife? Will you be sad to see Cumming leave the show if it does come back for Season 8? Sound off in the comments below!

The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS and Global.

One Comment