One of the things that made The Good Wife great was the amazing array of guest stars, many gathered from Broadway stages. The writers never shied away from eccentric characters and these brilliant actors obviously enjoyed the challenge, chewing up scenery for an hour. In fact, many were so memorable they often became reoccurring characters.
Here’s a look at my Top 10 favorite guest stars. It was a tough list to compile because I could have made it 30 names long easily. And exactly what is the different between a guest star, a reoccurring character and a regular character? Some I put in the latter category (like you, Jason), making then ineligible for this list.
10. Matthew Perry as Mike Krestena: Who knew that we could hate Chandler Bing so much? When Mike ran against Peter for State Attorney, he obviously had no boundaries when it came to ethics. He would lie without blinking an eye. If he’d had a mustache, he could have twisted it with maniacal laugh.
9. Gary Cole as Kurt McVeigh: How could we fall in love with a gun toting Republican? But we did, right along with Diane. Kurt turned out to be so endearing and yes, a little on the sexy side.
8. Mamie Gummer as Nancy Crozier: Another character we loved to hate. She played innocent but was, in fact, as innocent as a viper.
7. Denis O’Hara as Judge Charles Abernathy: My opinion may be clouded because I adored O’Hara on True Blood, but he always brought humor and devotion to the law to the courtroom.
6. Nathan Lane as Clarke Hayden: This character, brought in first as an accountant then (after getting his law degree) joined the firm as a lawyer, always kept me guessing. Was he a good guy or bad? The jury is still out on that one.
5. Michael J. Fox as Louis Canning: Fox’s last name also describes this wily character, who adores Alicia, but adores besting her even more. Alicia respects him but hates how he uses people and his disability to win cases.
4. Martha Plimpton as Patti Nyholm: The one thing this show could have done to be better was to bring this character back more. Alas, Plimpton is busy actress. But I couldn’t love to hate a character more than Patti, the ruthless lawyer who used her kids to get her way (I’m starting to see a trend here).
3. The Mothers: Stockard Channing as Veronica Loy or Mary Beth Peil as Jackie Florrick: OK I’m cheating a little here by putting on two names and I really don’t know if these actresses could be called a guest star, but didn’t you just love it when they had a scene together. The last one they had, at Jackie’s engagement party where Veronica spilled the beans about Peter and Alicia’s impending divorce, was brilliant.
2. Dylan Baker as Colin Sweeney: He gave me the creeps — but in a good way. I loved that he kept returning with new wrinkles to his “legal” problems. No wonder he won an Emmy.
1. Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni: This character showed that people who are wildly different, so much so that she probably appeared crazy to most people, can be brilliant. The writers put together as unique a character as I’ve ever seen on TV and Preston, who won an Emmy for the role, brought to life perfectly.
And can I add one more name to the list? Linda Lavin as Cary’s probation supervisor Joy Grubik. Has a there ever been a better picture of a government employee who cares about people but has been worn down by the system? It was a great performance for which she was nominated for a Critic’s Choice Award.