Take no PRISONERS
Alan Cumming is a man of many talents. The Scottish actor, 46, has lent his hand to everything from film and TV to cabaret, writing, directing, stints on Broadway and has even penned a novel.
Over the past two years, the openly gay actor has endeared himself to audiences as Eli Gold in The Good Wife.
Based on Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel ( President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff), Eli is a tough-talking politico who takes no prisoners.
“He’s obsessed with his work and his career and political ambitions and he’d be horrible to work for,” Cumming says.
But for all his flaws, Cumming was drawn to the character “because he was so different to me and just so alien”.
“Before I know it two years have gone by and I’m still playing him,” he says. “It’s been interesting seeing his softer side this season.”
Season three of The Good Wife, starring Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick, a wife and mother who resumed her career as a defence attorney after her husband’s ( Chris Noth) sex and political corruption scandal landed him in jail, starts this week on Ten.
In a juicy double episode return, Alicia is separated from Peter and may, or may not be, having an affair with old flame and colleague Will (Josh Charles). Meanwhile, Cumming’s Eli is at his sneaky, merciless, fast-taking best.
Cumming says the reason the show works is because of the writing. It’s realistic and raw.
“None of the characters are black or white, everyone’s very grey and I think that’s very unusual (in TV),” he says.
“You know none of them are completely good and even the bad ones that you’re not supposed to like, suddenly you feel such sympathy for them.
“That’s what makes it more life-like. It dares to play with your feelings.”
In between shooting The Good Wife in New York, Cumming finds time to write and perform his cabaret works, shoot movies, do voice-overs and just about anything else he can squeeze in.
When he’s not working, he is a passionate gay, activist who campaigns for equality.
“In the past decade the representation of gay and lesbian characters on TV has increased significantly, another step in the right direction,” Cumming says.
“Even in the Good Wife there was a scene where Alicia’s brother was making out with a guy in the living room and I just think when it’s just something that’s part of the story and not highlighted as a gay story-line or a special story-line that’s a positive step.”