Mike Colter returns this Sunday to The Good Wife, reprising his role on "Waiting For the Knock" as the mysterious and charming drug lord Lemond Bishop.
I spoke to the actor about what makes Bishop different from other TV bad guys and whether his return will have consequences for Lockhart/Gardner, along with what it was like to feel like an escapee...
It's great to see Lemond Bishop headed back to The Good Wife once again. What is it about the character that attracted you to the role?
You know when I first read the breakdown for the role it wasn't suppose to be a recurring character. It was just a guest star. When I read it, it was one of those things where it wasn't just a bad guy or a drug dealer or someone who's breaking the law. They're always portrayed in a certain kind of light and sometimes that can be cliched or rather typical but this was an interesting take and I really thought it was a really good character. I'm always attracted to the character elements when it comes to the work. So it was a good character and I figured it fit like a glove. I felt like I could really do something with this so they gave me a shot. Then they started asking me to come back. I felt like after that first episode, watching it that he kind of fit in that world and I thought he could do more. I thought there was more to be done with the character, at least that's what I said to myself.
It looks like this time around we'll be seeing more of the Bishop's home life.
Yeah. they're going to show a little more of the human side of him. He's always been, I think he's always been the kind of person where people could understand where he's coming from. He's always had this obviously sinister edge to him, where if something goes wrong, he takes it to the fullest extent which is to murder. At least thats what we're alluding to the audience at this point. I think the writers now want to see what's this guy like in his home life because he is for all intents and purposes, a normal guy. He seems to have a normal business. He's portrayed himself as a tax paying citizen. He has a family, or at least he had a family. His son is basically the center of his life now.
So you want to see him in his home life because that kind of shows you who he is as a person. Obviously they're not just going to his house for the sake of going there. They're going to go there because there's some problem. He calls the law firm because he's being investigated again. So there's a threat of him being in prison. He's actually called them for a purpose. It just so happens that it's going to be at his home where the FBI is going to center their investigation.
Lemond Bishop's attire always stands out for me. He's a little extravagant, always elegant, businessman/drug lord. Is there a lot of planning into the look for this character?
I think the costumer, he takes a lot of care into what Lemond is going to wear and the suits. We have about six or seven suits now that he has to use in his ensemble. In this episode there's not going to be any suits. It's going to be at home so it's nice. It will be casual and it will be fun to see him out of the suit because the suit is part of the persona. It's a part of the image that he wants to portray. I'm an official businessman. He wears suspenders and the cuff links and the nice shoes and the tailor made suits. But now seeing him at home, he's portraying a very clean cut sense of the all American image. I think that's part of who he thinks he is and I think that's who he wants to be. It just so happens that most of his business is an illegal drug business. You can't escape that. That's part of who he is. He tries to distance himself from it as much as possible and I don't think anyone would think he's that kind of person if you met him. That's part of the mystique of Lemond Bishop. That he gets away with it.
Do you know if we can look forward to seeing Lemond again this season?
Yeah, at least for another episode. I think it's episode 14. I'm not sure right now. We haven't started filming yet but right now that's what it looks like.
I was sorry to see Ringer cancelled last year. Did you have a favorite moment or memory from that show?
I guess my favorite memory of the show was when I finally got to join the rest of the cast in their own world. For the first few episodes I was kind of on the run and trying to find my way into the main plot line. I think the episode where I finally get there was pretty memorable because we end up shooting it outside, like in the desert. It was one of those things where you literally feel like you're escaping from someplace because you're just so far away from civilization. You feel like you're actually trying to make it somewhere. It was kind of symbolic because I was trying to get somewhere. I was trying to get to the story line because Malcolm was so far away because he was being tortured and trying to find out who was after him. It was just so confusing as an actor and as the character. I couldn't figure out exactly where it was going. No one could.
But my most memorable time was actually arriving where the rest of the characters were in the main story line. It was kind of symbolic for me I think, breaking loose and getting back into civilization.
If you could star on one current TV show and not The Good Wife, what would be your dream job?
Oh wow. The dream job. That's tough. I guess it's a toss up between Breaking Bad and Homeland. I've watched both series from start to finish or start to current. It's just the writing and the characters and the liberty. Cable gives you a liberty that network television doesn't allow you. There's not a set standard. I think they're just free and they're willing to try anything. The Killing. I was watching that and I felt like they had resolved themselves that they were only going to do two seasons based on the way they wrote the first one. They were fine with just having two seasons that everybody liked and people watched and that was it. And they didn't care what happened next. I feel like Homeland's taking a risk now too with their season. They're sticking with this character and it's exciting and exhilarating.
The writing, you don't know where it's going but you feel like sometimes they're limiting themselves but then they find a fresh take on every story now. It's just so well written. I think it's between those two, Homeland or Breaking Bad would be my dream job. And Game of Thrones is in there somewhere too now that I think about it.
I hear you're going to be in Kathryn Bigelow's upcoming film Zero Dark Thirty. Can you tell us anything about your role in that?
Just yesterday I did some ADR work for it and I got a little peek at it. I mean it's kind of like the Titanic. Everyone knows what this movie's about (the hunt for Osama Bin Laden). They know what happened, now they just want to know how it happened. That's what great about it. There's no surprise in what happened, it's just how. People want to know the details. Everyone knew the ship went down (in Titanic) but we didn't know anything else about it. What was the cruise like? What were they doing before it went down? All of the stuff leading up to the big event is what I think people are interested in.
I got a little peek at it. I haven't seen the whole finished product yet. We'll have a screening. But it was a great experience to say the least. It was very unique. I mean, we were in the Middle East for about seven or eight weeks. My part in the movie is minimal in that I'm on SEAL team six and that's the climax of the movie. That's the part at the end where you're getting to see what everybody's waiting to see but there's so much before that. It's just great to be a part of something that's unique, important and historical to American civilization. I think it's going to be something that everybody is going to like. There's a lot of good buzz around it. Kathryn seems to be happy with it. I think it's going to be something really special.
Any thing else you'd like to share with us up this episode of The Good Wife?
Obviously, he's in trouble. I think Lemond from my point of view, is a likable character. I think he means well but I think at some point they're going to have to come to a crossroads. And I think that's always been the problem for the law firm defending Lemond Bishop. It's always the ethics. What lines are they crossing? What are they doing? How far will they go for the sake of the dollar? And I feel that at some point they're going to have to make a decision. That's what this is all leading up to. I think that at some point Lemond is going to have to face the music and we're going to see whether the good guy or the bad guy gets to walk into the sunset.
Does the guy get to continue on with his life or is there some consequences for all that he's done. Again, they're his lawyers so do we want to see Lockhart/Gardner lose? I don't think anyone wants to see them lose. We want to see them win the case. We want to see them victorious, whether that's defending drug lord Lemond Bishop or anyone. That's the question. Who wins in the end? How does this play out? Hopefully for my sake, they never catch me.